Joanna Streetly - Writer & Editor

Joanna Streetly

Freelance Writer & Editor

Joanna Streetly’s work is published in "Best Canadian Essays 2017" and in anthologies, magazines and literary journals. Her most recent book, "Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast", is a BC Bestseller published by Caitlin Press. Other titles include "Paddling Through Time," (Raincoast Books) "Silent Inlet" (Oolichan) as well as "This Dark" (poetry, Postelsia).She has been short-listed for the FBCW Literary Writes Poetry Contest, The Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul award for outstanding travel writing and the Canada Writes Creative Non-fiction Prize. Joanna grew up in Trinidad and moved to Canada when she was 17. She has lived in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht people since 1990 and was the 2018-2020 Tofino Poet Laureate. For nearly thirty years she has lived in a floating house she built herself.

About Joanna Streetly

About Joanna

I’m a freelance writer and editor, the published author of four books with a fifth currently in process. I grew up in Trinidad and left home at seventeen to pursue outdoor education in Canada. Since 1990 I’ve lived on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht, most of that time in the hand-built float house my partner and I still live in today. In the late ‘90s, I was the editor of The Sound Magazine and editing has remained a strong interest, particularly substantive editing. My 2018 memoir "Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast" was a BC Bestseller published by Caitlin Press.Other titles include:

  • "Paddling Through Time," published by Raincoast Books in 2000.

  • "Silent Inlet," a novel, published by Oolichan Books in 2005. (Rights reclaimed in 2021.)

  • "Salt In Our Blood," a collection of stories by west coast writers, 2007. (This was a local heritage project that I edited and published.)

  • "This Dark," a chapbook of poetry, published by Postelsia Press in 2014.

My work can also be found in in "Best Canadian Essays 2017," literary journals such as Prairie Fire and the Malahat Review, as well as many anthologies. I have been short-listed for the FBCW Literary Writes Poetry Contest, the Canada Writes Creative Non-fiction Prize and The Spectator’s Shiva Naipaul Award for outstanding travel writing. I'm a member of The Writers Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, the BC Federation of Writers (west coast representative,) and the Clayoquot Writers Group. I’m deeply connected to my community and relished my 2018-2020 role as the inaugural Tofino Poet Laureate.

Memoir: Wild Fierce Life

Caitlin Press 2018

Wild Fierce Life is a heart-stopping collection of true stories from the Pacific Coast that build a vivid portrait of life on the continental edge and one woman’s evolving place within it.Author Joanna Streetly arrived on the west coast of Vancouver Island when she was nineteen, and soon adapted to the challenges of working on boats of all sorts, guiding multi-day wilderness kayak trips along the BC coast, and living in remote situations often without electricity or running water.From a near-death experience while swimming at night to an enigmatic encounter with a cougar, these stories capture the joys and dangers of living in a wild environment. Streetly’s vivid storytelling evokes a sincere respect for nature, both its fragility and its power.Full of unflinching self-examination and fidelity to the landscape of Vancouver Island’s outer coast, these stories reveal the interplay between inner and outer landscapes—the evolution of a woman uncovering the pleasures and dangers of the wild life.

Joanna Streetly - Wild Fierce Life


My 2018 memoir Wild Fierce Life debuted on the BC Bestseller List. It was previously listed on 49th Shelf’s Spring 2018 Most Anticipated list and has subsequently been noted in these terrific reviews:“With its gorgeous prose and adept storytelling, Wild Fierce Life captures life on the outer coast in a way that few recent titles have managed — and celebrates how this life can test the limits of who we are and how we understand the world around us.
A must-read for all the adventurers among us, armchair and otherwise.”
—Tara Henley, The Vancouver Sun
Wild Fierce Life, probes the intensity of B.C.’s coastal life

Read more of this feature on female adventurers in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star:
One of the essays was also reviewed in the Toronto Star here:
It was wonderful to be grouped in the female adventurer category with these talented writers:
The Ormsby Review says this:
Recommended fall reading in The Province:
And this is the CBC books page:
This starred review from Foreword Reviews in the US.
"…good stories of breathtaking adventures, both beautifully crafted and enchanting.”
—Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews
This one by Nexus:
“With well-placed illustrations throughout, this collection is strong and compelling, but it’s also honest and fragile. Streetly walks a delicate line with such excellence that I was sad when it came time to put the book down; there is not enough literature like this collection out there today. In Wild Fierce Life, Streetly is fearless in telling us her perceived shortcomings with nature, although those shortcomings more than make up for themselves in her elegant, transcendent, and captivating words.”The Tofino Booklaunch was a spellbinding evening of off-the-cuff storytelling by locals.“There are moments that define you. Dangerous moments when a split-second decision can mean life or death. When, as Wild Fierce Life’s author Joanna Streetly explains, it is almost like you are two beings: a body committed to action and a mind racing back and forth across existential questions. “Death’s beautiful secret lay before me, tantalizingly unexplored,” she read to a rapt crowd at her recent book launch. “But my father had always taught me to fight.”—Erin McMullan, The Westerly News

iisaak in the Garden

"Iisaak in the Garden" is the story of guardianship and activism in Tofino, told in partnership with Gisele Martin of the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation; Ian Gill, a CBC environmental reporter at the time of the Clayoquot Sound uprising; and Joanna Streetly, author of "Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast."Support traditional stewardship of Clayoquot Sound and donate to Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Allies, by purchasing print copies of this book. Email Mermaid Tales Bookstore, Tofino BC.

iisaak in the Garden

This Dark

Postelsia Press 2014

"This Dark" is a poetry chapbook published by Postelsia Press. The poems are paired with original linocuts by artist Marion Syme and are deeply reflective of Vancouver Island's outer coast.Illustrated by Marion Syme

This Dark

Silent Inlet

Oolichan Books 2005

Silent Inlet traces the lives of four very different characters in Hansen Sound, a fictional small-town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Amidst storms, mist and rain, they find themselves thrown together, struggling to trust one another. When a violent accident injures a handicapped boy, the tentative relationships that they have established begin to fall apart. Chaos ensues and lives begin to unravel. Harry Farre is a feisty woman in her sixties, who lives primitively on an island in the middle of Hansen Sound. Her daughter, Hannah, is returning to the Sound in the aftermath of a failed relationship. Big Mack Stanley is a First Nations man in his late thirties, beset by the troubles of his upbringing. His orphaned nephew, Lonny, is ten years old, desperate for love and a place to belong. Each of these characters sees life without "seeing" each other, and the story is told in their interweaving voices and points of view.Hesquiaht hereditary chief, Simon Lucas, once said: "You only see us with one eye." This novel brings the west coast to life through a spectrum of perspectives within which the reader experiences the raw physicality of people and place: people who are caught in the sea of turbulence, hardship and brilliance that characterizes the west coast, shaped by its history, First Nations culture, and the forces of Nature.

Silent Inlet

Paddling Through Time

A Kayaking Journey Through Clayoquot Sound

Raincoast Books 2000

Part of the Raincoast Journeys Series, this book uses a seven-day journey by kayak as a means to examine the natural and cultural history of Clayoquot Sound. Join writer Joanna Streetly and photographer Adrian Dorst as they travel through this stunning landscape and delve into its secrets.“Streetly invests such forthright passion in her writing that the book single-handedly announces itself, and its publisher as a real expert on the subject of local history and ecology. The best compliment to be made for Paddling Through Time is that it's an important piece of work that doesn't feel like work to read.”
--CD Syndicated Radio
“You have the benefit of all Joanna’s knowledge of kayaking, natural history, first nations culture and white settlers’ beginnings. Somehow she weaves it all together in a smorgasbord of rich description and information, knowledge and wisdom.”
--Gulf Island Gazette

Paddling Through Time

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