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Great Bear Travels Well
Can't find a gift for someone in Toronto? Then I recommend The Great Bear Rainforest. The text is interspersed with the diary entries of Ian and Karen McAllister, who have for the past seven years explored British Columbia's coast from Port Hardy to the Alaska border. Long after readers have gone through the text, they will still be studying the exquisite photos, which capture the diversity of our coastal rivers and inlets.

Karen, a UVic graduate in biology and environmental studies, has a special interest in the flora of the coast. Ian, a nature photographer, writer and environmental campaigner, has a love for remote wilderness. They have, with the help of Cameron Young, an awarding winning author of environmental journalism, put together a book that captures the beauty of the rainforest, while explaining the fear that this ecosystem could be irreversibly destroyed.

The text talks about not only the various species of bears but their habitat, their threat by man and their co-dependence with other animals in the area. The theme is a journey which will be enjoyed by any armchair traveller. I do not envy the McAllisters, their nomadic life, nor the wilderness camping, but their enthusiasm is contagious. They have a rare love for the rainforest.

In the forward, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says "I hope this book will help awaken people to the importance of this last magnificent stand of the great North American rainforest. If it is destroyed, history will not judge us harshly, because few will know the magnificence that has been lost."

Reading the book is like taking the journey with the McAllisters, for each turn of the page reveals another view of the coast, just as when a boat moves into a new channel, a new vista opens to the traveler. While it discusses environmental issues, the authors have given a straightforward account of their research, emphasizing the coastal bear population and discussing other animals in a matter-of-fact manner. Ian writes in his journal, "It rained so hard last night, even the bears are depressed." Karen tries to gather the diet of the grizzly, so that she can prepare a similar dinner. After a long day of gathering, she only has a half a bucket; knowing how skillfully a bear can forage she comments, "Hats off to the grizzly."
-Judy Hagen, Comox Valley Echo