Renowned author and Vancouver historian Chuck Davis has spent the last five years putting together what he calls the capstone of his career – but he won't be able to finish it on his own.

On Tuesday, Davis learned the cancer that has spread to his left lung is inoperable. Doctors told him he has only months left to live.

But his last book, The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, is missing 16 chapters. Davis was forced to start searching for someone to complete his magnum opus.

"There's not much time left and I need to get this book done," he said. "I put out a public plea for a writer. We now have one."

The co-author, who has not been named, has big shoes to fill. Davis' publishing career began almost thirty years ago with a guide to Vancouver, followed by his popular urban almanac, The Vancouver Book.

"The staff at the Vancouver Public Library told me it was the second most frequently stolen book in the system," Davis said. "I was absolutely overjoyed!"

More than a dozen books followed. Though topics ranged from CKNW Radio to the City of Port Coquitlam, Davis' true love has always been Vancouver.

"It's hard to put into words," he said. "You just feel at home here. At least I do."

He promises his final work will be a love letter to the city, full of her proud and sometimes checkered history – such as the story of Vancouver getting Canada's first mechanized ambulance in 1909.

"They were quite proud of it, took it for a test drive and ran over and killed an American tourist."

Davis admitted that knowing he won't be the one to finish his 16th and final book has been difficult for him. "It's a wrench," he said.

For now, he's focused on gathering donations to help pay his co-writer. To learn more visit

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson