Charles van Sandwyk at his desk

By sarah j. clark - conductor of comings and goings

Charles van Sandwyk is one of the pillars of the Salish Sea Market. He’s been with us since the beginning of the store, and everyday is part of the magic that is the Market.

His beautiful, whimsical and cherished work greets our visitors at the door and they are immediately drawn in to take a closer look.

We are delighted to celebrate Charles’ success and his 25 years of sharing incredible art, books, cards, and a CD with the world. Charles … the world needs more of what you offer, a place to experience the magic, wonder and sheer delight of imagination.

To add to our delight ... we will be hosting a reading with Charles this summer, right here on Vancouver Island! The date is still to be determined, but if you are interested in meeting this full-hearted man and hear him tell some stories, please drop us a line, or give us a call and we will add you to the list to be contacted once we have the date confirmed. Email us here:

We recently received a surprise visit from Charles and his dear friend Karlyn Kinney on a lovely Thursday afternoon. Charles and Karlyn have worked closely for over thirty five years and their connection is enchanting. The moment they entered, we are pretty sure time stopped, and magic appeared everywhere. Bear hugs, sweet introductions, joy, laughter, and a true sense of occasion rang forth. After 4 years of talking about him, meeting Charles was truly magical. But, I am told this is the norm with him … it’s just who he is. It made me realize how truly and deeply rooted he is in every word he’s written and every image he has created.

After sitting down recently and reading each of Charles’ books again, I feel inspired and energized to pursue some of my dreams in a way I did not previously imagine. Thank you for the gifts you continue to give Charles, we look forward to another 25 years of celebrating your work, and sharing it with the world.

Before the Salish Sea Market existed, our wonderful bookkeeper extraordinaire Simone, had a bookbinding connection with Charles. I asked her to tell me a little about it, and this is what she said:

I first met Charles van Sandwyk in 2004 when he hired me to bind a deluxe edition of Affairs of the Heart; I eventually took over binding the trade version as well. Working for Charles was, and remains, an experience like no other: every time we met was an occasion to celebrate, to be inspired by, and to remember. I would deliver a batch of books and leave hours later with a full belly, a warm heart, and laughter ringing in my ears.

One afternoon in late autumn I arrived at Brandywine Cottage to help him bind a few dozen trade editions in preparation for a reading the next day on Vancouver Island. A fire was blazing in the hearth, a ready bottle of wine and glasses sparkled on the dining table, and Eva Cassidy’s soulful voice filled the small house. We pushed aside some furniture, arranged the tipped-on sheets on the Oriental rug in front of the fire place and after some Twister-style manoeuvrings around each other soon had all the books collated and ready for sewing. We settled down cross-legged on the floor and steadily sewed the pages into finished books. All afternoon I felt like I was in Sarah Crewe’s magically transformed attic room: that part of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel has always been my favourite. There was such joy and beauty all around me, the comfort of things well-loved and well-lived, and Charles’ generous and loving spirit like fairy dust in every nook and cranny. With Charles, work is a celebration, a collaboration of fun and discipline. We laughed and told stories and loudly kept track of who was sewing fastest.

In 2007 I changed address and occupation, but I continue to work for Charles, although it’s his bookkeeping I deliver now, instead of his bookbinding. We don’t see each other as much, but when we do, there is always laughter, a feast, a glass of wine, and his bear hug. There is no one like Charles van Sandwyk: he is, as are his books, a gift of love.

When you are in need of an infusion of magic in your life, please visit Charles presence on our website:

June 05, 2018 — Sarah Clark