At Millican, we are forever curious and sensitive to a changing world. When Jeffrey Bowman returned from his trip to British Columbia, he felt there was more to know about the region's history, one hidden in the woods. A reflection from Millican's Creative Director.
“From the beach you can see as far as height and horizon will allow, but turn inland and you will find yourself blinking in a darkened room, pupils dilating to fill the claustrophobic void. The trail of a person, or the thread of a story, is easily lost in such a place. Even the trees, swaddled in moss and draped in fern appear disguised.” – John Vaillant – The Golden Spruce
Words and Photography by Jeffrey Bowman | @mrbowlegs
My trip was one of two halves. I arrived in Canada with a limited knowledge beyond watching Due South (the mountie and his urban sidekick fighting crime in the small mountain towns of Canada) and the more commonly (and accurately) shared knowledge from travellers past of the natural beauty; where the sea meets the endless forests and where bears roam free.
My trip took me from the modern streets of Vancouver to the more authentic lifestyle of dirtbags and climbing bums in Squamish. The trip wasn’t anything unexpected, in fact, it was everything I expected; a landscape not so unfamiliar to home (the Lake District) but on a massive scale.
It was a passing comment from Harry – a Vancouver resident, friend and tour guide for the trip – toward the end of my stay that shifted my perspective of the landscape: “these trees are second generation”. I asked Harry what he meant by this, he explained that the trees are not as old as it seems. He told me I should read The Golden Spruce, that would give me a better understanding of the Canadian landscape.
The great forests on the west coast of Canada were systematically logged, to the point where it was unrecognisable. In such a short space of time the landscape was changed beyond recognition. It was incredible to learn that Vancouver itself is only 150 years old and that a lot of the trees being felled were double, if not quadruple the age of the city.
Disguised amongst the second growth is a story of natural devastation – one that continues around the globe today, yet somehow it didn’t feel like a landscape that bore the scars of war it would always lose. Throughout The Golden Spruce I found myself reflecting on what it means to be a responsible human, a responsible traveller, a responsible consumer and our relationship with nature. I’m still working out exactly what this means to me, what lessons I have come away with, other than I now view the world with a slightly less glazed eyes and a lot more curiosity about the places I visit and my personal impact moving forward.
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