Born and educated in England, Michael Layland trained as an officer and mapmaker in the Royal Engineers. During his civilian career, he continued with mapping-related projects in South and Central America, Arabia, North and West Africa, and Antarctica. He experienced first-hand the problems, difficulties, and hazards of working in undeveloped regions, and so holds great admiration for the early explorers of Vancouver Island. He has researched extensively the exploration and cartographic history of the region, which he has made his home for the past 28 years.
During his extensive travels he has maintained a life-long interest in the natural world. In his third book, he is able to combine the two avocations: those of exploration history and natural history.
He has served as president of the Friends of the BC Archives and the Victoria Historical Society. He is a member of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada, the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors’ Society, and reviews books for British Columbia History magazine and the Ormsby Review. His articles on explorers and exploration history have appeared in international encyclopedias, including eight entries in the two-volume Oxford Companion to World Exploration.
Acknowledged as one of Vancouver Island’s foremost map historians, he has also collected and researched old maps of the region, and published reproduction maps and panoramas of historical note.