House of Anansi Press

Spirit Bear

Encounters with the White Bear of the Western Rainforest

Written by Charles Russell

Published May 20, 2017 | ISBN 9781487002091
NATURE / Animals / Bears

Cover of Spirit Bear

Regular price $24.95 CAD

152 pages | 10 in × 8 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

Spirit Bear

Encounters with the White Bear of the Western Rainforest

Charles Russell

Written with vivid detail and passion, Spirit Bear is the story of acclaimed naturalist Charles Russell’s journey to study and learn from the extraordinary spirit bears on the remote Princess Royal Island.

From early experiences observing black bears in the Rocky Mountains with his father, the well-known writer and broadcaster Andy Russell, to nerve-racking encounters with grizzlies in British Columbia’s Khutzeymateen Valley, Charles Russell has spent a lifetime studying bears in their natural habitat. In 1991, Russell visited Princess Royal Island, an uninhabited island off the coast of British Columbia. There, amidst the rivers and trees of the western rainforest, he encountered the elusive spirit bear.

Known to scientists as the Kermode bear and to the public as the white, ghost, or spirit bear, these extraordinary animals have never been exposed to civilization. In Spirit Bear, Russell recounts his experiences on Princess Royal Island — trekking over rocks and through streams; waiting hours for the evasive ghost bear to appear; and finally coming face-to-face with a spirit bear only inches from his nose. Illustrated with over 100 stunning colour photographs, Spirit Bear provides beautiful and astonishing insight into the habits and nature of the Kermode bear, and is part of an ongoing effort by conservationists to save Princess Royal Island as a sanctuary for these remarkable animals.

The reissue of Spirit Bear, a classic work of Canadian nature and wildlife, includes an updated design and a new Afterword by the author.


I could scarcely believe what I was experiencing. Here was a wild bear, of fearsome lore, examining me and my trappings as though I were a novelty, a cousin from the big city come to visit — an object of curiosity, but definitely not something to fear, or to eat for that matter.

About the Author

Charles Russell

CHARLES RUSSELL was born and raised in southwest Alberta near what is now Waterton Lakes National Park, in bear country. He is an accomplished Canadian wilderness guide, naturalist, photographer, rancher, and pilot. Russell has authored several other books on bears, including Grizzly Heart: Living Without Fear Among the Brown Bears of Kamchatka, Grizzly Seasons, and Learning to Be Wild: Raising Orphan Grizzlies. His photographs have appeared in magazines such as Canadian Geographic, Nature Canada, and Outdoor Life. He lives in Alberta.