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BIG LONELY DOUG

Harley Rustad

  • Original Title: BIG LONELY DOUG
  • Publication date: September 2018
  • Publisher: HOUSE OF ANANSI
  • Country: CA
  • 328 print pages
  • Factual/True story

Information

  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: Canada
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Life choice, Looking back on one's life, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Capitalism, Ecology, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Commitment

Pitch

Taller than a twenty-storey building, taller even than Niagara Falls, Big Lonely Doug is one of the largest trees in Canada. Saved by an unlikely hero, Doug is now the poster child for Canada's old-growth forest preservation movement.

Comments

Finalist, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes
Finalist, Banff Mountain Book Competition
Finalist, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
A Globe & Mail Top 100 Book

Pitches as in the tradition of John Vaillant’s modern classic THE GOLDEN SPRUCE.

Harley Rustad is a Canadian journalist, author, and editor at The Walrus magazine. He is a faculty editor of the Banff Centre's mountain and wilderness writing residency, and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Summary

On a cool morning in the winter of 2011, a logger named Dennis Cronin was walking through a stand of old-growth forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. His job was to survey the land and flag the boundaries for clear-cutting. As he made his way through the forest, Cronin came across a massive Douglas fir the height of a twenty-storey building. It was one of the largest trees in Canada that if felled and milled could easily fetch more than fifty thousand dollars. Instead of moving on, he reached into his vest pocket for a flagging he rarely used, tore off a strip, and wrapped it around the base of the trunk. Along the length of the ribbon were the words “Leave Tree.”

When the fallers arrived, every wiry cedar, every droopy-topped hemlock, every great fir was cut down and hauled away - all except one. The solitary tree stood quietly in the clear cut until activist and photographer T. J. Watt stumbled upon the Douglas fir while searching for big trees for the Ancient Forest Alliance, an environmental organization fighting to protect British Columbia's dwindling old-growth forests. The single Douglas fir exemplified their cause: the grandeur of these trees juxtaposed with their plight. They gave it a name: Big Lonely Doug. The tree would also eventually, and controversially, be turned into the poster child of the Tall Tree Capital of Canada, attracting thousands of tourists every year and garnering the attention of artists, businesses, and organizations who saw new values encased within its bark.

Originally featured as a long-form article in The Walrus that garnered a National Magazine Award (Silver), BIG LONELY DOUG weaves the ecology of old-growth forests, the legend of the West Coast’s big trees, the turbulence of the logging industry, the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, First Nations land and resource rights, and the fraught future of these ancient forests around the story of a logger who saved one of Canada's last great trees.

go further

  • Author’s biography

    Harley Rustad is a Canadian journalist, author, and editor at The Walrus magazine whose work has appeared in The Walrus, Outside, the Globe and Mail, Geographical, the Guardian, CNN, and elsewhere. His books include BIG LONELY DOUG: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees, which was named a best book of 2018 by the Globe and Mail and one of the best Canadian nonfiction books of the year by the CBC. He is a faculty editor of the Banff Centre's mountain and wilderness writing residency, and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.