Parks history chronicled by B.C. author

James Anderson uses his knowledge of B.C.’s parks system to detail the struggles, conflicts and victories in preserving the network of parks

James Anderson uses his extensive knowledge of B.C.’s parks system to detail the struggles, conflicts and victories in preserving the most extensive network of parks in the country.

Anderson, a career park administrator, was part of a team of patient, dedicated visionaries who built the B.C. Parks Branch amid a backdrop of vacillating public and political support. He presents his book British Columbia’s Magnificent Parks: The First 100 Years at the Harbourfront library Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

In 1910, a mismatched group of politicians, poets, social butterflies and an overweight cook, led by a Shakespeare-quoting bushrat named Hughie Horatio Nelson Baron Bacon, set out from Campbell River to explore the wilds of Vancouver Island.

Their goal was to assess the adequacy of the region to become a wilderness park – the first in the province’s history.

Strathcona Park was created in March of 1911. But the fate of B.C.’s first designated park was also the worst, riddled with mines, logging and hydro projects – its defenders against further industrial incursion, however, gave birth to an environmental protection movement considered one of B.C.’s contributions to the modern world.

The book outlines the history behind the parks, while explaining the importance of protecting sensitive ecological sites.

Anderson, born in Yellowknife and holding a degree in education from the University of Alberta, spent 30 years in government, involved in every aspect of parks management and creation. He lives in Victoria, B.C.