Three Against the Wilderness

What the visitors to this site have to say

12 November 2017:
I am halfway through the book, having read it as part of a Canadian Literature course at the University of Victoria in 1971-2. My copy is falling apart – the binding has been drying out for years – but I’m persisting because the story is ageless and profound. I will try to visit the homestead when next in the area. D. A. Pepper

8 October 2016:
I first read the book in 1976 when I was working on the beam trawler Sara Maria out of Porth Penrhyn, Bangor, North Wales. It is still one of my favourite books. As I reach the autumn of my years, one of the few things left in my bucket list is to visit Eric’s house. His book has inspired me through the many setbacks of my life, though nothing to compare with the hardships he overcame.
Dave Lucas, Runcorn, UK

15 May 2015:
Thank you so much for allowing me to see a little of my dad (Veasy) and to hear his voice again. He was an amazing man, so very principled and proud. I miss him and my mom, but they are together, where they were always the happiest.
Tara Collier Valpy 

11 April 2014:
I again was reading the Eric Collier when I scanned the internet and found your interview with Veasy.  I noticed also in another posting that Veasy had died last fall.  Given the photos of Veasy in the book, it made me feel old to see that note and then remember that mother read the Readers Digest condensation to me and to two boys from up the road when I was nine years old.  She said that we each sat spellbound as she read.   As I have read the account again this week I have again recognized that Three Against the Wilderness is a good book, that presents Collier’s views on the beaver together with some very human and personal family accounts.
James V. Delk

Submitted on 2013/03/03:
I have also read both books Three Against The Wilderness and Crusoe of Lonesome Lake, they are both amazing true stories of life in the Canadian wilds. Books of this nature are getting harder to find; I myself have several, they are like my children, I will never get rid of them. Also check out A.L.Karras he has three books that are well worth reading.
Travis C.

Submitted on 2013/03/01:
It’s curious that apparently the Royal Canadian Engineers rebuilt the original cabin and yet there is no specific reference to where it is on Google or any other map? This is a truly epic Canadian story that is amazingly well written when one considers that this is a once off effort. I’m thinking of revisiting some of Farley Mowat’s books that I read as a boy.
Richard Moore

Submitted on 2013/02/07:
Like Eric, I left England, and in ’73, came to Canada to work for the Hudson’ Bay Company. I stayed with them for a year, until I got a job at a paper mill for the next thirty years. I’ve been running the same trapline for thirty five years and still enjoying it. Around 1986, I read the book “Three Against the Wilderness”. On our way to Expo ’87 in Vancouver, we stopped in at Williams Lake to see if I could find the Colliers. To my delight, I found Lilian in a retirement home. I have a picture of her and myself. She directed me to Veasy’s house and my wife and I got to meet him. I remember that he showed me his dad’s rifle which was hanging on the wall at the time. It was a great delight to meet the people that you read about. I highly recommend the book!
A Malcomson

Submitted on 2012/11/27:
In line with this book is the series about the Chilcotin area of BC by Richard Hodson – Grass Beyond the Mountains and The Cowboy Takes a Bride. These books describe the early efforts at homesteading just west of where the Colliers staked their claim and the pioneer cattle ranches, some of which are still in existence to this day. Edwards of Lonesome Lake was also another chronicle of one man’s efforts to pioneer in that area as well. What gripped me in these books was the ability of these men and women to improvise in the face of over whelming odds against the forces of nature and the wild.
A Malcomson

Submitted on 2012/10/28:
Wonderful book – would love to converse with Veasy and know where and how he is now. We live on the Oregon coast so we could at times, while reading the book, feel that we were with his family.
Willard Railsback, PO box 1861, Bandon Oregon 97411 1-541-404-1461

Submitted on 2012/09/26:
It’s a book I’ve read several times and I’m still amazed by the idea of going it alone with a family in such a remote area. It is interesting to use today’s technology and to access Google earth and view the area. I hope to make a trip with an adventure bike to the area. I had also viewed the You Tube video interviewing Veasy Collier and found it brought a lot of perspective to the story. It would be nice to meet and talk to him.
James Condie

Submitted on 2012/08/14:
This book has been a favorite of mine since I first read it more than fifty years ago. Eric and Lillian’s spirit has been a source of inspiration for me all of my life. I still go back and read sections of the book and just a few months ago my wife and I visited their site at Meldrum Creek. This has been on my list of things to do for a long, long time and this time I had to come all the way from Santa Cruz Bolivia to do it. PS: I should add that I have really enjoyed Veasy’s comments about the book and his parents.
Jack Derksen

Submitted on 2012/07/31:
Three Against the Wilderness is one of our favorite books and has been read many times.

Submitted on 2012/07/02:
Wonderful book and it helped me make friends with a good fellow from Elmira, New York who loved the book too. We became friends through the internet after searching for more information there. He flew there all the way from New York in his light plane to see the old homestead and met with Veasy and other people who know the area. A remarkable and inspiring book. Thanks for this great website!
Mark G.

Submitted on 2012/05/27:
I got copy of book in 1997 when I was eleven. I read it numerous times and Colliers became my friends.
I really love this book.
Dmitry Prokopyev, Usinsk, Russia

Submitted on 2012/05/09:
I live in Christchuch New Zealand (of earthquake fame) I have just read Three against the Wilderness for the first time and really loved it. I got it from our local library and will be recommending it to others. What stoic individuals they were, so self sufficient and brave. I think it would be a great compulsory read for high schools such thought provoking material with just a bit of how three people could change their world for the better.
Lynne Reyn

Submitted on 2012/05/04:
I just finished rereading this book for the third time. I think my first introduction to the Collier family was 45 years ago, long before the Internet. When I closed the book today, I wondered if I would find any mention of Veasy if I did a computer search, and to my delight, look what I found! Apparently, the story of his family has endured and the lessons learned continue to this day. I am so happy that people keep discovering Eric Collier’s timeless tale of wilderness life.
Ann Penny

Submitted on 2012/04/19:
I have almost completed Three Against the Wilderness and it is one of the best books I have ever read. I can’t wait to see what happens next and am absolutely amazed at this young family’s inner strength and perseverance. I have my Bachelor of Education and this book should be taught as a novel study in High School English. It also should be made into a movie. I have several people waiting to borrow my book once I have completed it.
Jayne Mann

Submitted on 2012/03/31:
Hello! I am from Russia and I really like the book and the story about Collier family. In Russian region where I come from there was an interesting story like Colliers business. It was business about saving beavers and it was in 1920. Group of scientists established a laboratory where they increased population of beavers and saved them from disappearance. This laboratory still works now. I have question to builders of this site. Do you have interviews of Veasy Collier in text format? I am not very good in listening English speech and do not understand some of Veasy Collier sentences but it is so interesting information. I have read this book several times. Thanks a lot for your job. This site is really interesting. There are many people in Russia who loved story of Collier family. And it is an interesting moment that in approximately same time (1920-1930) the same thought to save beavers came to persons in so far situated countries like Canada and Russia. The Colliers made a great deal for all people.

Submitted on 2011/12/12:
I am reading the book now and enjoying it very much. Eric Collier lived the dream that I had when I was young. I was inspired then by the stories of Jack London, and other wilderness tales. I had romantic ideas about getting away from the artificial life of a typical urban dweller and getting as close as possible to the basics of life, the struggle for existence against a tough natural world that could snuff you out if you didn’t learn its rules and learn them quickly, but which could in its gentler moments show you the most beautiful things. There isn’t room for everyone to live that way these days, even if they wanted too, but those that had the vision and determination to see it through can still inspire the rest of us. Long live nature.
Dennis Edwards

Submitted on 2011/07/21:
If you stay at the Chilcotin Lodge in Riske Creek it’s not far from there to get to the cabins. Visit
Tegan Heard

Submitted on 2011/06/18:
I thought it was a great book, beautifully written, every chapter an arduous or exciting adventure written with sensitivity and love of the environment in which he and Lilly lived. It was also a love story, a partnership between two people who were both passionately involved, in the B.C. wilderness. Their successful struggle together is an inspiration.
As an aside, I have recently discovered that Lilly was a first cousin once removed from her ancestral family in Cape Breton Island, N.S. as am I. From sea to sea.
Bev Guy

Submitted on 2011/05/07:
Hello! During 1960 & 1961 I lived in Williams Lake and at that time worked for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. I also purchased “Three Against the Wilderness”. I had this book for a number of years,but, a friend (?) didn’t return it so I wanted to read it again and bought it once more recently. Still a great story!! I did not remember that the Beavers came from Bowron Lake Park. Since my first trip to “Bowron” in 1963 I have gone around that circuit 13 times, the last being in 2008. Another interesting note is that when I left Williams Lake with a buddy we went to Eastern Canada and Europe for almost a year. I had a 1957 Monarch Richelieu which I traded for a 1960 V-W reported to be owned by “Veasy Collier”. That car traveled right to Halifax and back. I traded it in for a new car purchased in Chilliwack. Maybe it’s still zipping around the Fraser Valley, although I painted it a bright yellow. Maybe on thinking back a little too bright for the time! I am next month approaching year number 73 so we are of almost the same vintage. I enjoyed the web sites.
Keith Gilmour

Submitted on 2011/04/12:
I just finished “Three Against the Wilderness” – a book that I should have read many years ago. It was a wonderful reading experience, and I now wish that I had used this as when I was teaching novel study in High School English.
Tony Guy

Submitted on 2011/04/06:
Some of us cannot live without wilderness. Embellished or not, Collier’s stories as told in his book are an inspiration and a much-needed hope for some of us. I am absolutely horrified by what oil and uranium corporations are doing to the last large pristine wilderness areas in Canada. Collier’s book should never be forgotten.
A great site. Many thanks to James Stewart.
Kaz Dziamka

Submitted on 2011/03/27:
My wife and I are planning a trip from Australia to Canada. My sister loaned me Eric’s book. She’s had it for years and has read it many times.
What a great ‘yarn’! I liked Eric’s turn of phrase, so often! The interviews with Veasy are fascinating.
We have wondered if we could plan to visit Meldrum Creek – but it seems that it would be a 7+ hour trip from Vancouver – and then what? At the very least, I hope we can see real beaver dams somewhere in BC when we visit!

Submitted on 2011/03/11:
I remember my mother reading the Readers Digest condensation of “Three Against the Wilderness” in 1959 to me when I was nine and to two boys who lived up the road. I’ve read the book numerous times and continue to enjoy it – and have in recent years given or loaned a copy to several out doorsmen, friends of mine. Please know that they too have enjoyed it. Please cherish the knowledge that the story is still respected and appreciated.
James V. Delk, Whitwell, TN 37397

Submitted on 2011/02/14:
My husband and I have enjoyed camping and fishing at Raven Lake near Riske Creek and this is the reason I recently purchased this book from Walmart in Victoria. Liked hearing Veasy’s honest accounts that he remembers from this time in his life. Also nice to know what happened to him. Really enjoyed the book it’s a great story.
Lissa Hunter

Submitted on 2011/01/16:
What an amazing family! I’ve read Three Against The Wilderness twice.It’s a keeper!! Makes me wish I had been there! Another wonderful book is Crusoe of Lonesome Lake by Leland Stowe, a true story of Ralph Edwards and his family, very much the same as Eric Collier and his family.
Tracy McClure-Jacober

Submitted on 2010/09/27:
I was bequeathed a batch of old books and yours was one of them , which I have read with the most enjoyment. I live in Northern Ireland with a family of five daughters and one son all gone now to have their own lives, I am still working as a librarian, (not boring very active in fact I am just about to finish my Masters in Library management and hope to graduate next May in Egyptology). This book has made such an impact on my life. The fact that people can live in isolation and live life to the full is just so amazing. I just loved the whole story of Eric, Lilian and Veasy and my grandsons are looking forward to reading your lives.
Mary E Regan

Submitted on 2010/08/01:
My wife and I have been reading Three Against the Willderness for the past 40 odd years and never tire of reliving the achievement of these people.To be able to view your interview with Veasy has just added another dimension to this saga. Thank you for making this for all who are interested in the achievements of humanity.
Graeme Pearse

Submitted on 2010/05/17:
Gordon Smilie is our neighbour, good to know we could view the traps at his place. We just returned from the Collier homestead, what a place! We saw a beautiful black bear both coming and going on our ATV’s. Our book club will discuss the book tomorrow night, very interesting to listen to your interview with Veasy. Thank-you.
Val Biffert

Submitted on 2010/04/24:

Last year I managed to get up to the head waters of Meldrum creek to one of the dams that they had rebuilt (the boulders incorporated into the dam were too big for a beaver to have moved there) but couldn’t get any further in our car. I only found ancient trace of beaver activity and none new. Do you by any chance know if the beaver in the area are being hunted again. Perhaps for castor of for their furs for China.
William Hughes-Games

9 Responses

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  1. Maurice Poirot said, on March 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    J’avais 15 ans quand j’ai achete ce livre en France. Il est toujours la dans ma bibliotheque. La famille Collier est un modele qu’il ne faut pas oublier. Pouvez-vous traduire l’entrevue de Veasy en Francais svp. Bravo et merci. Je n’ai pas eu la chance de faire des etudes et je comprends tres mal l’anglais.

  2. Henry said, on March 25, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Just finished reading the book which my husband read as a child exploring the mountains and wilderness around Squamish BC. It inspired him then, it inspires us both now as we live our own adventures but on the ocean in a little boat. I had to know what happened to Veasy and would have loved a sequel. I am not doubting Veasy’s recall but most parents know that their children don’t see life through the same lense, they are after all, children. So I can believe the story of the wolves and believe that a young Veasy may have been totally unaware of the danger. Eric’s exaggeration may have been in the distance of the wolves but from experience wolves are a swift and agile animal.
    Thank you for the website, it has been so interesting!

  3. Dustin Porter said, on September 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Hello. My name is Dustin Porter and I live in Williams Lake BC. I have read and loved the book Three Against the Wilderness. I have visited the site many times and if anyone is traveling from far away to see the Collier site but do not know how to find it I can take you there. Give me a call 250-267-9550

  4. Richard Moore (@southbroom50) said, on March 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    It’s curious that apparently the Royal Canadian Engineers rebuilt the original cabin and yet there is no specific reference to where it is on Google or any other map? This is a truly epic Canadian story that is amazingly well written when one considers that this is a once off effort. I’m thinking of revisiting some of Farley Mowat’s books that I read as a boy

  5. Tara Collier Valpy said, on May 15, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much, James, for allowing me to see a little of my dad and to hear his voice again. He was an amazing man, so very principled and proud. I miss him and my mom, but they are together, where they were always the happiest.

  6. Artis Aboltins said, on January 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    One of the books that really helped to form my worldview in childhood and prompted my love for hiking and wilderness. Back then Latvia was part of Soviet Union and we had a very limited number of books about North America’s wilder areas, but this one (titled “Three in Chilcotine forests”) was among those. I really hope to be able to visit the actual site.

  7. Martha Siemens said, on May 13, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    A new video of a young man who went there recently. I am lucky enough to live close enough that I want to try to get in there next time I pass through that country. If I can ever pin point it’s exact location.

  8. Tom Johnson said, on July 7, 2019 at 12:29 am

    Inspirational book. I first read Three Against the Wilderness in 1965 in northwest Iowa where I had trapped muskrat and mink for several years while attending junior high and high school. I wrote a letter to Mr. Collier inquiring about the possibility of successfully trapping for a living in Canada and he wrote back that I should give it a try and see what I thought. I wish I had saved that letter, but it, along with my dream, disappeared when I went into the military in 1966. A few years ago my son gave me the original hardcover Three Against the Wilderness. It brought back fond memories and images of what could have been…

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