This book is the story of the legendary Golden Spruce and its tragic fate. To set the tree in context, it is also the story of the Queen Charlotte Islands in North Western Canada, the indigenous native population – the Haida, the logging industry, and Grant Hadwin. He was a timber scout, who turned into an active environmentalist following ‘an awakening’ in the forest. He cut down the tree as a bizarre form of protest against the excesses of the lumber business and then vanished into the forest never to be seen again.
The Golden Spruce was a marvel. A Sitka spruce which had three genetic mutations, which taken together should have finished it off. One of these caused the luminous gold foliage and another it’s beautiful, perfect shape. (A type of tree we call a Noddy tree in this house!) It was 16 storeys high and 300 years old, an object of scientific interest, a tourist attraction and a Sacred Tree.
This book really opened my eyes to the logging industry and the total carnage it has wrought to hundreds of square miles of ancient forest, also to the attitude of the central government towards the Haida and other tribes (they only got the vote in 1960) It is well worth a read, and will have you wondering exactly where the wood pulp for your copy came from.
From the ground, its startling colour stopped people dead in their tracks: from the air it stood out like a beacon and was visible from miles away. Like much of the surrounding landscape, the tree was incorporated into the Haida’s vast repertoire of stories, but as far as anyone knows, it was the only tree, in what was then an infinity of trees , ever to be given a name by the Haida people. They called it K’iid K’iyaas: Elder Spruce Tree.
The Golden Spruce John Vallaint