Natural history & science

1145 Great Bear diversity & antiquity

Heart of the Coast: Biodiversity and Resilience on the Pacific Edge by Tyee Bridge, with a foreword by Nancy Knowlton Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing, 2020 $37.99 / 9781773271156 Reviewed by John Gellard * Tyee Bridge’s Heart of the Coast, Biodiversity and Resilience on the Pacific Edge is a magnificent book — robust hard cover, excellent…
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1128 Stanley Park reflections

ESSAY: Stanley Park: The Mirror and the Mask by Jordan Johnston * Stanley Park is a mirror that reflects the desires of those who look in it. On a map, this bright green peninsula stands apart from the city centre, as if held at arm’s length. Vancouver, like any other city, has poverty, and crime,…
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1127 The Chesnut-Farrant exchange

One Good Thing: A Living Memoir by M.A.C. Farrant Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2021 $19.95 / 9781772012842 Reviewed by Mary Leah de Zwart * M.A.C. [Marion Alice Coburn] Farrant is an accomplished author, playwright, and humourist, living on the Saanich Peninsula near Sidney, BC. She has seventeen publications to her name, ranging from a novel and short…
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1099 A measure of change

Earth 2020: An Insider’s Guide to a Rapidly Changing Planet by Philippe D. Tortell (editor) Cambridge, UK: Open Books Publishers, 2020 £23.95 (U.K.)  /  9781783748457 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * I have felt for some time that the universities are getting dangerously like the early church — James Lovelock.[1] As the well-known photography of Edward…
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1098 ABC to birds of BC

Birds of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest: A Complete Guide, Second Edition by Richard Cannings, Tom Aversa, and Hal Opperman Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 (first published 2018) $29.95 / 9781772033274 Reviewed by Trevor Carolan * April is upon us and spring birding season is in full readiness position. The next two months promise a…
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1080 Across the universe with Hubble

Not Yet Imagined: A Study of Hubble Space Telescope Operations by Christopher Gainor Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Communications, NASA History Division, 2020 9781626830615 free eBook (PDF) available here Reviewed by John Hutchings * This is a scholarly but very readable tome that describes — in some 450 pages — the…
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1076 Reflections on an Arctic voyage

Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear by Lynne Quarmby Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2020 $24.95 / 9780228003595 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * Books about climate change are prolific—and for all the alarming reasons that most of us accept. Watermelon Snow, by Lynne Quarmby, is essentially a book about climate change,…
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1071 Remnants of Sumas Mountain

ESSAY: Remnants of Sumas Mountain by Natalie Lang For those who came before and those not yet arrived. * And forever before me gleams, The shining city of song, In the beautiful land of dreams. But when I would enter the gate Of that golden atmosphere, It is gone, and I wonder and wait For…
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1027 Tribute to the Fraser River

The Fraser: River of Life and Legend by Carol Blacklaws and Rick Blacklaws White Rock: Image West Productions, 2020 $39.95 / 9780994817518 Reviewed by Peter Grant * Of those who raft (and swim) the Mighty Fraser In this album, appealingly balanced between text and pictures, Rick Blacklaws’ photos capture the Fraser River’s fabulous landscapes, especially…
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1021 Canadian science on Easter Island

Stanley’s Dream: The Medical Expedition to Easter Island by Jacalyn Duffin Montréal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019 $39.95 / 9780773557109 Reviewed by Colin Levings * Stanley’s Dream, Jacalyn Duffin’s book on the 1964-65 Medical Expedition to Easter Island (METEI) is an intriguing detailed compendium, retrospective analysis, and overall fascinating story of one of Canada’s…
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1012 Behold the Broughton Archipelago

Converging Waters: The Beauty and Challenges of the Broughton Archipelago by Daniel Hillert (photos) and Gwen Curry (text) Victoria: Rocky Mountain Books, 2020 $40.00 / 9781771601658 Reviewed by Alex Zimmerman * There’s something attractive about archipelagos. They are, by definition, surrounded by water and therefore have no hard boundaries. Nonetheless, islands grouped into an archipelago…
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#977 Tips for the Anthropocene

A Book of Ecological Virtues: Living Well in the Anthropocene by Heesoon Bai, David Chang, and Charles Scott (editors) Regina: University of Regina Press, 2020 $39.95 / 9780889777569 Reviewed by Rose Morrison * Seldom has this reviewer encountered an essay collection that is so topical and as important as A Book of Ecological Virtues: Living…
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#972 Sea wolf of Discovery Island

Takaya: Lone Wolf by Cheryl Alexander, with a foreword by Carl Safina Victoria: Rocky Mountain Books, 2020 $30.00 / 9781771603737 Reviewed by Luanne Armstrong * When I was a child, I lived far more intensely with animals than I did with people. As the somewhat feral daughter of homesteading farmers, I found animals were far…
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#965 A call to arms for the planet

A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency by Seth Klein Toronto: ECW Press, 2020 $24.95 / 9781770415454 Reviewed by Howard Stewart *  Editor’s note: The West Coast Book Prize Society announced on April 8, 2021, that A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, by Seth Klein, has been shortlisted for the Hubert…
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#953 Gentle paths through the Rockies

Family Walks and Hikes in the Canadian Rockies, Volume 1: Bragg Creek, Kananaskis, Bow Valley, Banff National Park by Andrew Nugara Victoria: Rocky Mountain Books, 2019 $20.00 / 9781771602242 * Family Walks and Hikes in the Canadian Rockies, Volume 2: Bragg Creek, Kananaskis, Moraine Lake, Yoho, Icefields Parkway, Jasper by Andrew Nugara Victoria: Rocky Mountain…
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#933 Stanley Park trees

Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver’s Stanley Park by Nina Shoroplova Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 $29.95 / 9781772033038 Reviewed by David Tracey * Consider the following thought experiment: the first alien space crew has just landed on Earth (mark your 2020 bingo card). They must quickly discover what our planet is all about. So…
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#895 Eulogy for vanished creatures

Endlings: A Collection of Poems about Extinct Animals by Joanna Lilley Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2020 $18.00 / 9780888016898 Reviewed by Heidi Greco * Mary Anning is a name we should recognize, though I’m sure most people don’t. She was the first person (often not credited) to discover ichthyosaur fossils, and did so when she was…
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#894 Varner’s wild foods & cures

Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 $22.95 / 9781772033236 Reviewed by Rose Morrison * A book authored by British Columbia horticulturist Collin Varner is always worthwhile. Varner’s latest publication, Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and…
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#880 In celebration of the orca

Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History by Martha Black, Lorne Hammond, and Gavin Hanke (editors), with Nikki Sanchez Victoria: Royal BC Museum, 2020 $29.95 / 9780772677686 Reviewed by Daniel Francis * During the summer of 2018 an orca named Tahlequah, a member of J pod of the southern resident orcas which…
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