Big Lonely Doug

Big Lonely Doug

The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees

Written by: Rustad, Harley

In the tradition of John Vaillant’s modern classic The Golden Spruce comes a story of the unlikely survival of one of the largest and oldest trees in Canada.

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. He came across a massive Douglas fir the height of a twenty-storey building. Instead of allowing the tree to be felled, he tied a ribbon around the trunk, bearing the words “Leave Tree.” The forest was cut but the tree was saved. The solitary Douglas fir, soon known as Big Lonely Doug, controversially became the symbol of environmental activists and their fight to protect the region’s dwindling old-growth forests.

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.

In the tradition of John Vaillant’s modern classic The Golden Spruce comes a story of the unlikely survival of one of the largest and oldest trees in Canada.

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. He came across a massive Douglas fir the height of a twenty-storey building. Instead of allowing the tree to be felled, he tied a ribbon around the trunk, bearing the words “Leave Tree.” The forest was cut but the tree was saved. The solitary Douglas fir, soon known as Big Lonely Doug, controversially became the symbol of environmental activists and their fight to protect the region’s dwindling old-growth forests.

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.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Sep 4, 2018
Specifications 328 pages | 5.5 in x 8.5 in
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PRAISE FOR HARLEY RUSTAD AND BIG LONELY DOUG

Finalist, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

Finalist, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes

Finalist, Banff Mountain Book Competition

A Globe and Mail Book of the Year

“[Rustad’s] microscale descriptions of the landscape and how commercial forestry has changed it bring you into the depths of Vancouver Island.”? Outside Magazine

“Rustad, a Salt Spring Island native, digs into the B.C. psyche with his discussions of old growth forests, big trees, the logging industry, ecotourism, and First Nations rights and issues.” ? Vancouver Sun

“[Harley Rustad] is a gifted researcher and writer and a valuable enabler whose book is a must-read for anyone interested in ecology.” ? Winnipeg Free Press

“[A] very timely narrative.” — Toronto Star

“The story of Big Lonely Doug unfolds in marvellous detail, with liberal doses of humour, pathos, and conflict.” — Foreword Reviews

“Among the joys of good writing and deep research are the ways in which it can reinvigorate a place you thought you knew, inviting you to see it, and feel it, afresh. This is just one of the gifts of Big Lonely Doug, an avatar of the west coast rainforest that, through Harley Rustad’s insightful and nuanced telling, embodies this vital ecosystem in all its beauty and complexity. Reading this book made me want to drop everything and meet Doug in person.” ? John Vaillant, author of The Golden Spruce

“Blending thoughtful historical research with vivid reportage, Harley Rustad begins with the story of a single tree but masterfully widens his scope to encompass so much more: all the other grand old trees that have been felled on Vancouver Island, all those that have been saved, and most importantly, why it all matters. A complex and at times alarming tale, but also, in the end, a deeply hopeful one.” — Robert Moor, author of On Trails

“Having spent time, personally, with Big Lonely Doug, and wandering through the last of our ancient forests in British Columbia, it's never been more clear to me how imperative it is for us as humans to recognize the magnificence of these ancient trees and forests and do everything that we can to preserve them. With less than 1 percent of the original old-growth Douglas-fir stands left on B.C.’s coast, it’s time for Canadians to embrace Big Lonely Doug and his fellow survivors, and keep them standing tall. Harley Rustad’s story brings both the majesty and adversity of Big Lonely Doug a little closer to home.” — Edward Burtynsky 

“You can see the forest for the trees, at least when the trees in question are singular giants like Big Lonely Doug, and the writer deftly directing your gaze is Harley Rustad. This sweeping yet meticulous narrative reveals the complex human longings tangled up in B.C.’s vanishing old-growth forests — cathedrals or commodities, depending on who you ask, and the future hinges on our answer.” — Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders

“An affecting story of one magnificent survivor tree set against a much larger narrative — the old conflict between logging and the environmental movement, global economics, and the fight to preserve the planet’s most endangered ecosystems. If you love trees and forests, this book is for you.” — Charlotte Gill, author of Eating Dirt

“[Harley Rustad] weaves the ecology of the rainforests of Vancouver Island, the legends around them, the business of logging pitted against the environmentalist movements, the contentious issue of ecotourism, and the rights of First Nations into a compelling, fascinating read.” — Desi News



PRAISE FOR HARLEY RUSTAD

National Magazine Award (Silver) for The Walrus article “Big Lonely Doug”

National Magazine Award (Honourable Mention) for “Where the Streets Have No Names,” a feature on digital mapping in the Belcher Islands, Nunavut.

National Newspaper Award (Collective Nomination) for “Cashing In,” an investigation into a failed immigration program in Prince Edward Island.

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