Raymond Maher’s book, The Deadly Five, is a historical fiction novel which was released in September, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Raymond Maher’s book, The Deadly Five, is a historical fiction novel which was released in September, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack author blends history with fiction in Fraser River Gold Rush novel

Book signing coming up for Raymond Maher’s historical fiction novel ‘The Deadly Five’

A Chilliwack author has blended both history and fiction in his first novel exploring the events of the Fraser River Gold Rush in 1859.

Raymond Maher’s new historical fiction novel, The Deadly Five, was released in September and in it he weaves together the true history of the gold rush with five fictional characters.

“Most people don’t like history unless it’s dressed up,” Maher said, who’s now gearing up for a book signing later this month.

Having lived in Chilliwack for only five years, Maher didn’t know much about local history when he first moved here.

So after researching both the Fraser River Gold Rush and the Cariboo Gold Rush, he took those historical facts and mixed them with his five flawed, “honest-to-goodness, real-life” characters: Mean Mike, Nothing Brown, Jacque, Seth, and Old Man Magee.

“I was faithful to present the gold rush as the actual birth of British Columbia. It’s kind of what brought us to where we are today.”

He made The Deadly Five characters personable so as to make the history more exciting for the reader.

In the book, the five strike it rich when many others don’t. They find that their success is overshadowed by accusations that they are ‘The Deadly Five,’ guilty of murder, among other things.

It’s an “one for all and all for one” story, Maher said.

“They are closer than brothers and much more than friends. They’re really diverse but they work together.”

The Deadly Five is a historical fiction novel written by Raymond Maher of Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

The Deadly Five is a historical fiction novel written by Raymond Maher of Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Mean Mike, Nothing Brown, Jacque, Seth, and Old Man Magee travel the gold rush route along the Fraser River rubbing elbows with authentic figures like Hanging Judge Matthew Begbie.

“I think I have done a really good job of presenting [Begbie] in a positive light,” he added.

Maher said he’s hoping people who read the book will have a sense of the excitement of history and the daringness of the people on the gold rush.

“I’m hoping that people will take away the sense of brotherhood, friendship, caring and sharing. I’m hoping it will make people both laugh and cry.”

There are a few things he wished to accomplish with the book. He wanted to highlight the actual places and events of the Fraser River Gold Rush, wanted the characters to catch the spirit of people coming into B.C. from around the world to hunt for gold, and he wanted to have fun with the characters.

His wife Marilyn, who is not a history buff, said he did all of that.

She read The Deadly Five and not only loved it, but learned a lot about local history, too.

“It’s kind of a cliff-hanger. The first thing I said to him after I read it is ‘have you started the second one?’”

There will be a physically distanced book launch and signing for The Deadly Five on Friday, Nov. 13 (2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and Saturday, Nov. 14 (10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) at the Royal Hotel (45886 Wellington Ave.).

Books are $14.99 (paperback) and $25.49 (hardcover). Cash only. Masks are required at the book signing.

The books are also available at The Book Man, the Chilliwack Museum gift shop, and the pro shop at the Chilliwack Curling Club. It can also be purchased in ebook form via accordingtoed.com or books.friesenpress.com/store.


It is 1858 and thousands of gold seekers are descending on the west coast of British Columbia to seek their fortunes in the gold rush. The new British colony becomes a hive of activity where Americans, Canadians, and the Indigenous people of the land collide, often with deadly repercussions. An unlikely team of adventurers forge an alliance as they make their way along the treacherous Fraser River, hoping to strike it rich. With dangers at every turn from man, nature, and beast, the men learn to rely on one another to survive. Though they all seek enough gold to change their lots in life, friendship and camaraderie may be the greatest treasure to be found on their journey.

The Deadly Five is based on the enthralling and fascinating Fraser River Gold Rush. Brimming with adventure and intrigue, readers will be whisked back to the early 1800s where life was merciless, and it took courage and determination to find that elusive pot of gold.

About the author

Raymond Maher has a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry. He’s a retired teacher and Lutheran pastor, and he currently writes a column ‘Neighbourly Advice According to Ed’ which has been published in various newspapers across Saskatchewan since 2009.

ALSO READ: Tale of stolen Sto:lo boys a lost story no more

ALSO READ: 1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Raymond Maher’s book, The Deadly Five, is a historical fiction novel which was released in September, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Raymond Maher’s book, The Deadly Five, is a historical fiction novel which was released in September, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
New outbreak at Chilliwack care home, while Agassiz care home outbreak over

‘Critically important’ for residents to get tested immediately if symptoms develop, says Fraser Health

The Abbotsford Pilots and all other junior teams in B.C. have been paused from competition after new restrictions put in place to battle the spread of COVID-19.
Chilliwack Jets, PJHL grounded after new restrictions

Games in the junior B league won’t played until after Dec. 7 at the earliest

Kelli Paddon, on screen in centre, is sworn in as the Chilliwack-Kent MLA by Premier John Horgan on Nov. 24, 2020. (Screenshot)
Coulter and Paddon sworn in as newly minted MLAs for Chilliwack, Chilliwack-Kent

NDP Premier John Horgan swears in 57 new MLAs, a majority of which are women

The seats in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre’s theatre will be empty for the time being with provincial health orders in effect. (chilliwackculturalcentre.ca)
Chilliwack Cultural Centre shuts doors to observe provincial health orders

While the 2021 schedule is unaffected so far, refunds are being offered for 2020 events

Volunteers (from left) Leanne Herrick, Chris Gadsden, and Ross Aikenhead clean up trash by the Vedder Canal underneath Highway 1 on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The group is calling for cameras to be installed in the area to help catch people who dump trash. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Volunteers tackled trash pile dumped by the Vedder Canal in Chilliwack

‘Hotspot’ effort saw 260 kilograms of carelessly tossed garbage removed from riparian zone

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Police lights
Vancouver elementary school locked down after unknown man walks into classroom

Police arrested the man and sent him for a psych evaluation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Most Read