I've been a fan of Lonely Planet books since using them to backpack through Asia in the 1980s, but it seems to me they are in the middle of an identity crisis. Case in point is the British Columbia book, which I've added to my collection of guides to my home province. It retains the "Backpacker" feel but includes multiple listings of upmarket hotels and restaurants with scant regard to actually desrcibing individual places, which is why I buy a guide book in the first place. The result is a watered down version of what was once a great series, with the great descriptive and personalized writing replaced by page after page of listings that any reader could find in a phone book. For example, in the Vancouver chapter, instead of critical apprasial of the places to stay that appeal to budget travelers, literally dozens of places in all price ranges are listed, with little more than an address and price given for each. There's a privately run hostel in Vancouver that is nothing short of digusting and has been closed down and reopened under new names on two occassions. And yet the author lists this place along with the excellent choices that do exist as if all are of the same quality. I doubt whether the author has ever visited any of these places, but even if she has, some kind of description is what is missing. In a similar vein, out near the Vancouver airport, an RV park lies right under the flight path. Again there's no mention of this very basic information, just a phone number, address, and price. Finally, prices are almost always wrong. Prices haven't risen that dramatically over the last two years and as this is the first edition of the book my guess is that they've transfered information straight from the Lonely Planet book that covers all of Canada.
Further afield, in recent travels, I noted the same lack of perception in the writing about other areas of the province. It's obviously useful for young budget travelers to know which bars have cheap drinks, but I still expect more, such as some good solid descriptions of what there is to see in each town and coverage of all the great outdoors opportunities. These things
are sorely lacking.
On the plus side, the introduction chapter is very strong, with detailed coverage of history, geology, and wildlife. History might not be that exciting, but the author has obviously done her homework in this department. The maps are also much improved from the old days and even the smallest town has a map.
In conclusion, the fact that the author is not from Canada does not worry me, but she needn't have even visited to put this book together. Even if you're a young backpacker from overseas desperate to fit in by traveling with a Lonely Planet guide, I'd skip this book and buy the Lonely Planet Canada book.