Friday, June 24, 2005


As a young boy I spent many hours paddling my father around in a canoe while he fly fished the lakes in Northwest Bay logging division. Sometimes we camped overnight or brought friends and relatives for picnics, swimming, or skating. This father’s day week-end the roads to Boomerang, Okay, Round, Cottel, Off, and Kidney Lake were closed to the public due to industrial logging on this privately owned land.

One of the largest business deals in BC has gone almost unannounced. Driving down the highway just south of Parksville you may notice that the green Weyerhaeuser sign has been replaced by a blue sign that states “Island Timberlands” Only those in the know would notice that the odd symbol on the left is the corporate logo for Brascan who announced:

“Toronto, CANADA, May 30, 2005 – Brascan Corporation (NYSE/TSX: BNN) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Weyerhaeuser's British Columbia coastal business for approximately C$1.2 billion plus working capital, a transaction which included: 635,000 acres of high quality, freehold timberlands; and five saw mills, two remanufacturing facilities and 3.6 million m3 of associated annual Crown harvest rights. “

Locally, Brascan has just bought land that is under serious contention in Cathedral Grove, Hamilton Marsh, on the Floodplain of the Little Qualicum River, on the slopes of Mt Arrowsmith including the Judge’s Route. Local communities and the public have expressed serious concerns about protecting these sensitive ecosystems.

Will Brascan protect these relatively small areas of privately owned land or will this corporation log these highly sensitive forests for the sake of profits? It is posted at “At Brascan, we pride ourselves on contributing positively to the communities in which we operate. From an environmental perspective, that means we are continually striving to minimize our impact on the environment...”

Will Brascan continue to use helicopters to dump thousands of tons of chemical fertilizer into the Englishman RIver Watershed in the same way that Weyerhaeuser and TimberWest did last year? If you would like to get in touch with Brascan to find out their plans regarding local wilderness managed by Island Timberlands, please contact Reid Carter, Managing Partner at (604) 661-9142 or e-mail:

Worthy of note is that, while the corporate change means upper management has been replaced, the middle management positions are still filled by most of the same people who worked for M&B, Weyerhaeuser, and now Brascan. Logs are still being exported while more local workers have been laid off in the past month.

“Brascan Corporation is a global asset manager focused on property, power and infrastructure assets. With $40 billion of assets owned and under management, the company owns 70 premier office properties and 130 power generating plants. The company is inter-listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.“

The corporate message is often hard to understand such as; “With a focus on strategic investments in fee simple timberlands in Canada, the United States and Brazil, our Fund investments may also include monetization or securitization of crown timberlands in Canada.” My simple translation is: We will cut down trees on private land as well as on publicly owned land to make lots of money.

Brascan goes on to state: “Approximately 13,000 hectares of lands are viewed to have greater value in non-timber use, located on Vancouver Island and the Mainland. It is expected that the constantly growing rural-urban interface will result in ongoing land sale opportunities.”

Weyerhaeuser sold off a lot of ‘timberland’ as real estate, logged many millions of cubic meters of old growth forest on public land, dumped tons of chemicals into the watersheds of this province, and donated millions of dollars to the BC Liberals. Weyerhaeuser also helped to establish new presidents in the Supreme Court of Canada with regards to First Nations’ land claims and helped to galvanize the environmental community. It remains to be seen how Brascan will act in BC.

Friday, June 10, 2005


A single English Oak tree stands in front of the ‘old’ Errington Elementary School on Grafton Avenue. Other trees and scrubs grow without the presence of the children they were meant to keep company. I attended all the grades at that school and remember gathering leaves from those trees for art collages. I played around those trees and climbed them after school was out. I even remember the planting of several of those trees because they are significant to many in the community as a reminder of those who have passed on. Thousands of children have similar memories of those trees.

Now that the Navy Cadets of Canada have bought the ‘old’ school property, there is some hope that the trees planted by the community will be allowed to grow and prospers. After all one of these trees is of great historical significance to Canada as well as the community of Errington.

The English Oak tree is of particular historical significance since it was given to the Province of British Columbia by the King of England George VI, upon his coronation in 1936 along with one tree for each of the other 10 provinces in Canada. That Oak tree was planted in Errington by a 12 year old Earl Ware in the spring of 1937.

The very nature of trees is that they can outlive the people that planted them. In fact there are trees growing on Vancouver Island that pre-date even our own calendar. Trees have been used for centuries to mark special occasions, people, and historic events. However, trees remain silent and over time the memories they were meant to preserve fade into the past.

People living in Errington when the school was first built may have thought that the publicly owned land would remain a center piece of the community. A plaque should be established by the tree to remind people why it was planted.

Henry VIII cut down the Oak forests of England to build the man-of-war fleet that expanded the British Empire to all corners of the globe. Today a single oak tree, seeded from the remains of that decimated forest, stands tall before what will become headquarters for navel cadets in this community.

Today the Errington Cedar Mill dominates the center of the community of Errington. The surrounding drinking wells have been poisoned and water runs black in the ditches. The noise of the saws, chippers, debarker, loaders, and trucks can be heard everywhere in Errington from 6 am until late into the night and often on week-ends. Many of the Yellow Cedar logs being cut in Errington today are coming from the Upper Walbran Valley, Crown Land designated as a Special Management Zone.

This spring I hiked through the Alpine forest just outside the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park and looked at those same Yellow Cedar trees. The specific type of ancient rainforest that they live in is a red-listed plant community on Vancouver Island. Extremely steep slopes rise up to a long alpine ridge complete with small lakes and ponds. Some of those trees were over 1000 years old and seeded before the first crusade. Standing beside the stump and log of an ancient yellow cedar tree with growth rings so tight that they can only be distinguished by polishing the wood and using a magnifying glass to count them, we estimate that a 3 foot wide stump is all that remains of an 800 year old Chamaecyparis nootkatensis.

I have been hiking and filming in the ancient rainforests of Vancouver Island for many years and invite you to join me at the Errington Community Hall for a ‘back by popular demand’ screening of my half hour film “THE ART OF RAINFORESTS” Friday June 17 and Saturday June 18 at 8 pm.