Nature is a vitamin.
I was raised as a child in the Ardmore part of North Saanich in the 1940s. Ardmore was mostly forested and where the trees had been cleared sheep grazed. Sidney was a tiny single street village where a bus left several times a day for Victoria. We had no television and computers had not been invented. For us there were no visual or virtual distractions like cell phones and cruising the internet. We enjoyed what we had. That was the beauty and bounty of nature around us.
Today too many people suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder. The term was coined in 2005 by author Richard Louv in his bestseller Last Child in the Woods. In 2018, more gadgets and virtual distractions isolate children and many adults from nature. Louv’s follow up book – Vitamin N:the Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life promotes vitamin ‘N’ as the cure for ‘NDD’ that does not come from a bottle, is free and very close by in our ‘places’. ‘Just you look and see’ the ‘white cliffs of Dover and our own the natural habitats in creeks, mountains, forests, rivers, islands and seas! Count, identify and enjoy the creatures and habitats that need protecting. In my youth, I got plenty of vitamin ‘N’ naturally.
At Coles Bay my brother and I built a shack with drift wood. We also constructed a raft that we called ‘salvager’. We rigged it with a pole and square sail so that we could follow the coast of the Saanich Inlet towards Brentwood Bay. We were always outdoors, at least whenever our parents allowed that, which was any time after school, if we were not needed for chores. Even the chores were outside. The family had cows, chickens, a crop of hay, and a golf course that played through the farm – the Ardmore Golf Course.
All of that prepared me for my life. I wanted to experience more of nature and I did that via hiking, skiing, fishing and boating by sail, riverboat and canoe.
After doing much of that with my brother I decided to share that love. My brother and I opened a company called ‘Sub-Arctic Navigation Ltd.’ We bought and built river boats and operated them on the rivers Ft Nelson, Liard, South Nahanni and McKenzie. We booked tourists for ‘wilderness’ fishing and photographic trips. Our commercial tour service was the first to operate on the Nahanni long before it became a national park.
Later we were hired by Brentwood College to lead a month long canoe trip from Ft Nelson to Ft Providence via the Ft Nelson, Liard and McKenzie with a side trip up and down the South Nahanni. We purchased two 25 ft Hudson Bay Chestnut Voyager Canoes for the purpose. Each canoe was powered by seven grade eleven boys and my brother and I as steersmen.
My experiences in outdoor life made me place pen to paper. I the following compositions my emotions about the importance and fragility of nature are expressed.