Natural history & science

#933 Affinity for Stanley Park trees

Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver’s Stanley Park by Nina Shoroplova Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 $29.95 / 9781772033038 Reviewed by David Tracey * Consider the following thought experiment: the first alien space crew has just landed on Earth (mark your 2020 bingo card). They must quickly discover what our planet is all about. So…
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#895 Eulogy for vanished creatures

Endlings: A Collection of Poems about Extinct Animals by Joanna Lilley Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2020 $18.00 / 9780888016898 Reviewed by Heidi Greco * Mary Anning is a name we should recognize, though I’m sure most people don’t. She was the first person (often not credited) to discover ichthyosaur fossils, and did so when she was…
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#894 Varner’s wild foods & cures

Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner Victoria: Heritage House, 2020 $22.95 / 9781772033236 Reviewed by Rose Morrison * A book authored by British Columbia horticulturist Collin Varner is always worthwhile. Varner’s latest publication, Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and…
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#880 In celebration of the orca

Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History by Martha Black, Lorne Hammond, and Gavin Hanke (editors), with Nikki Sanchez Victoria: Royal BC Museum, 2020 $29.95 / 9780772677686 Reviewed by Daniel Francis * During the summer of 2018 an orca named Tahlequah, a member of J pod of the southern resident orcas which…
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#870 A clear-eyed analysis of fear

Nerve: A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear by Eva Holland Toronto: Penguin Random House (Allen Lane), 2020 $32.95 / 9780735237339 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * Who doesn’t enjoy reading about extraordinary people or extraordinary events? The appeal of reading about the famous or infamous, about divas or dictators is obvious. Equally obvious is…
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#857 Oceans as sustainable commons

Vanishing Fish: Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries by Daniel Pauly, with a foreword by Jennifer Jacquet Vancouver: Greystone, 2019 $34.95 / 9781771643986 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * …fish are in dire peril, and, if they are, then so are we. — Daniel Pauly (p. 24) In a remarkable collection of essays drawn…
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#819 Pandemics past and present

Epidemics and the Modern World by Mitchell L. Hammond Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020 $54.95 / 9781487593735 Reviewed by Jody Decker * This textbook by a history professor at the University of Victoria, Mitchell Hammond, focuses on epidemics of infectious diseases which, he argues, have left the greatest impact on the modern world, even…
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#816 Walking through the pandemic

Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests by Ariel Gordon Hamilton, ON: Wolsak & Wynn, 2019 $20.00 / 9781928088752 Reviewed by Jaime Yard * It took me an inordinately long time to read Ariel Gordon’s Treed. This does not mean that it isn’t a good book. In truth, I think the pace may have been set…
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#790 Enter Douglas, Garry & Menzies

In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island by Michael Layland Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2019 $40.00 / 9781771513067 * On March 2, 2020, it was announced that Michael Layland’s book, In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island (Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2019) had won the 2020 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding scholarly book on British…
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#757 Carry on, Sasquatch

The Making of Hominology: A Science Whose Time has Come by Dmitri Bayanov in association with Christopher Murphy, with a foreword by David Hancock and Jeff Meldrum Surrey: Hancock House Publishing, 2019 $19.95 / 9780888390110 Reviewed by John Gellard * Have you ever seen a Sasquatch? Have you heard one, or smelled one? Have you ever seen…
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#747 The mammoth in the room

Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray, with a foreword by George Church Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2019 $32.95 / 9781771644723 Review by Tom Koppel * Welcome to the brave new world of 21st century genetics and the quest by a few clusters of audacious scientists to bring back…
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#744 Bob McDonald leaves the planet

An Earthling’s Guide to Outer Space: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Holes, Dwarf Planets, Aliens, and More by Bob McDonald Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2019 $29.99 / 9781982106850 Reviewed by John Hutchings * Victoria-based Bob McDonald is a Canadian icon of science reporting and a catalyst of informed popular discussion. In…
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#728 West coast natural history tally

The Flora and Fauna of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner Victoria: Heritage House Publishing, 2018 $39.95 / 9781772030914 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * As many professional biologists involved in communicating the urgency of our environmental crisis are in the habit of pointing out, possibly the best thing that one can…
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#714 A naturalist on the North Pacific

John Scouler (c. 1804-1871) Scottish Naturalist: A Life, with Two Voyages by E. Charles Nelson Glasgow: Glasgow Natural History Society, 2014 £11.00 (U.K.) / 9780956529510 Reviewed by Robert M. Galois * Naturalists’ Networks and the Northwest Coast in the Early Nineteenth Century On 25 July, 1824, John Scouler, a young Scottish naturalist, boarded the Hudson’s…
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