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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Hot Spots, the Nuclear World and Cougar Annie

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The Botanical Garden Field Station just outside of Tofino

Tofino is a hot spot right now, slated for the nuclear fallout after the devastating earthquake/tsunami in Japan.

Coby and I visited that area a few years ago. At the Pacific Rim National Park the sign posted on Long Beach (and what gorgeous beaches, 16 km or 10 miles) said: There is nothing between you and Japan except Ocean. What an amazing thought!

With all the flotsam washing up on Tofino’s shores from last March’s event it really brings home the reality that the world is one place, not the 196 separate countries the World Atlas wants us to believe.

The Hot Springs from my sketch book 6 x 9"

Everything about the place seemed magical: we stayed in a hostel within the Botanical Garden Field Station, with “twelve acres of gardens, rain forest and shoreline that explore the relationship between culture and nature”.

Sea Lions from my sketch book 6 x 9"

A network of paths and boardwalks with a historical homestead, a driftwood storytelling hut made by Jan Janzen and sculptures by Michael Dennis as well as an original Haida dugout cedar canoe re-enforce that relationship.

The quantity of driftwood on the beaches was staggering. I began to understand how this abundance influenced the face of local architecture.

A wonderful book, Builders of the Pacific Coast by Lloyd Kahn, shows the breadth of their imagination in reclaiming found materials with an understanding of both the specifics of the site as well as the building’s place within the larger environment.

Boat Tour to Broken Island

We never did make it to Cougar Annie’s Garden, which is a shame, I don’t envision another opportunity.

Cougar Annie

‘She could sure handle a gun.’ The tales told about Ada Annie Rae-Arthur are legendary. She raised eight children, outlasted four husbands and reportedly shot more than eighty cougars during her seventy years living in the wilds of Clayoquot Sound. Now her pioneer homestead and garden – a renowned heritage site once lost in the misty rainforests of Vancouver Island – have come back to life for visitors to enjoy.

It is closed to visitors now. In 2010, the 117 acres including five acres of Annie’s gardens went up for sale – a  pity as it took twenty years for Peter Buckland to restore them.

cormorants on their island

porpoises off Long Beach

Everything about this place seemed magical: running along the beach to try and keep pace with a brace of porpoises, watching them rise up and dance on the waves. The hanging gardens dripped with moss and ferns growing out of  bark. We walked  miles of boardwalk through forest and bog; the bog trees looking like a forest of giant broccoli. The most amazing of all was miles and miles of clean, pristine sand dunes and beaches.

Terrace Beach

Everything about this place seemed magical: the colonies of seabirds and seals and sea lions knee deep on rocky outposts, whales passing through, the burial caves from ancient cultures. It’s a revelation to me. What is interesting about this is it is only visible if you are on water and not land.

The Hanging Garden

Burial Caves

Did you know we were originally an aquatic species, or at least had the potential? Yes, elephants, dolphins and us could be brothers and sisters.

This aquatic theory of human evolution was first suggested by the marine biologist Professor Sir Alister Hardy in an article in The New Scientist in 1960. (1

(1 from page 22 in Elaine Morgan’s book The Descent of Woman, published in 1972, she makes a compelling case in favour of this theory  and has spent the rest of her life’s endeavour championing that view.

A Cave of Trees