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For most Canadians the word “north” is both powerful and evocative. At the most basic level, as we are often tunefully reminded, we are the “True north strong and free.” Even beyond the anthem, the “north” has powerful associations. The rest of the world, like the anthem, may consider us to live in the “North,” but we know better. Most Canadians live within a few kilometres of the US–Canada border, and they will indicate with a broad sweep of the hand that the real north is . . . up there. Wherever you are, there is always more north . . . and yet more. In many places unpeopled and at many times a mite chilly, the north is also associated with the wilderness—and, in turn, with purity, power and large, peckish animals. Might we expect all of these associations to apply to the “secret beaches” of the “northern” Salish Sea? In addition, might we expect that, given the choice between the beaches of the southern islands (in volume four of this series) and the northern islands, only the hardiest and most adventurous of beachgoers would want to venture far from the much-touted “Mediterranean” warmth of the southern islands? Let’s admit it: many are sure that turning from the dry, baking heat of Salt Spring or the Pender Islands, for example, toward Quadra and Cortes Islands is a cue for putting away the bathing suits and digging out the windbreakers...