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Published by libraryptsbcrew02, 2022-07-10 05:17:35

MacClean's Magazine

MacClean's Magazine

OLD MONEY vs. NEW MONEY: Louise Arbour takes on the A NEW BRUNSWICK LOVE



The Big Burn

How British Columbia is learning to live with relentless wildfires



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August 2022 · Volume 135 · Number 7


There were 1,642
wildfires in British

Columbia last
season. Welcome
to the new normal.

Former Supreme Court Justice Paulina Alexis is Reservation
Louise Arbour is combatting Scorched Dogs’ breakout star
sexual misconduct in the military
The age of the 16
10 wildfire has arrived THE BUILDING
THE BIG IDEA on the West Coast
Montreal’s new and improved
A tax on million-dollar BY JASON MCBRIDE Biodôme brings visitors
homes would create a seed into real wildlife habitats

fund for new housing 18
THE MOVE Former sprinter and
Commonwealth Games chef
A family of long-time de mission Sam Effah splurges
Vancouverites dive into the on one-of-a-kind experiences
Calgary real estate market
The cover image, by Doug Drouin, was taken in 2020 in Kaleden, B.C.

August 2022

46 54

A century-old Joshua Whitehead
Maritime love story is giving CanLit
a makeover
The Fight for Muskoka A CANLIT RECKONING

A group of old-school cottagers is resisting a new Oji-Cree writer Joshua
mega-mansion on an island in Lake Joseph Whitehead is bringing
Indigenous languages into
the canon

A newly unearthed treasure trove of photos is bringing Why the art world is going
a century-old queer love story to light nutty for NFTs

4 AUGUST 2022
A gambling addict reflects
on the recent surge of sports

betting ads


The new world
of NFT art


A teacher escapes cartel
violence in Mexico and finds

sanctuary in Vancouver

Want to give yourself EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Sarah Fulford
the gift of a royal escape? EXECUTIVE EDITOR Emily Landau
INSPIRATIONAL FASHION & BEAUTY Charlie Gillis (National), Dafna Izenberg (Special Projects)
SENIOR EDITOR Mary Dwyer (University Rankings)
And more in every issue DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION AND TECHNOLOGY Jacob Sheen
SUBSCRIBE NOW! CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Liza Agrba, Christina Frangou, Brian D. Johnson,
Adnan R. Khan, Michael Lista, Stephen Maher, Jason McBride, Lauren
SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER. McKeon, Omar Mouallem, Chris Nuttall-Smith, Andrea Yu
CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Rodolphe Beaulieu, Selman Hoşgör, Wade Hudson,
Order online Evaan Kheraj, Vishal Marapon, Grady Mitchell, Ebti Nabag, Melissa Renwick, Pete Ryan, Anna Lisa Sang, Allison Seto


DESIGNER Lauren Cattermole (on leave)
CONTRIBUTING ART DIRECTORS Anna Minzhulina, Colleen Nicholson










Jason Maghanoy




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LouiseArbour, former Supreme Court justice and human rights
champion, is fighting to reform the Canadian military


LOUISE ARBOUR, a former Supreme Court
justice and United Nations high commis-
sioner for human rights, has spent her ca-
reer taking on the world’s most notorious
human rights violators. And yet one of
her most formidable challenges is domes-
tic. In May, Arbour released the results of
her year-long inquiry into the Canadian
Armed Forces, sparked by a string of sexual
misconduct allegations—some involving
the organization’s top brass. The report
was unequivocally damning: the military’s
culture is deficient; its colleges outdated.
“I was told that almost every female cadet
has experienced an incident or more of
sexual misconduct ‘or worse,’ ” she wrote.
Now, the federal government is tasked with
implementing Arbour’s 48 recommenda-
tions, which include handing over sexual
misconduct cases to civilian courts. Progress
is slow, and Arbour is patient—to a point.

Yours is the second inquiry into the mili- When she’s not taking on egregious human rights offences, Arbour likes
tary’s handling of sexual misconduct cases to relax at her cottage with her dog, Snoro
in seven years. How is this report different?
Justice Marie Deschamps’s report was pretty conviction rates in these cases are famously environment where nothing will happen,
earth-shattering in exposing how ingrained aside from a slap on the wrist? There are
sexual misconduct was in military culture. low. What reasonable expectation of jus- also informal reprisals, like being ostracized
But looking at the remediation that would by colleagues. A lot of corrective measures
come from a criminal justice response was tice can victims have even if that change have been put in place over the years in
outside of her mandate. When I came along, the civilian system, including establishing
there was a lot of concern that change had is made? specialized courts for sexual offences and
not been implemented, even coming from I’m not suggesting for a minute that the attempts to displace myths and stereotypes.
the auditor general. My report looks at two civilian system is perfect, but the military In the civilian arena, people report crimes
issues: the continued prevalence of sexual system has features that are even more because the system will react positively. In
misconduct, and allegations against very problematic. The main one is the duty to the military, the opposite happens.
senior members of the Armed Forces. I was report. It’s hard enough for any victim of
trying to see how people with these character criminal sexual assault to come forward, but
flaws manage to progress through the ranks. to have to tell your chain of command in an

Your most talked-about recommendation
is that the military hand over sexual mis-
conduct complaints to civilian courts, where

8 AUGUST 2022

“If you just recruit white boys who like guns but don’t
like women or anybody who doesn’t look like them,

you’re going to perpetuate that culture”

You said that one impediment to progress Western-driven concept, and a tone-deaf I don’t know if that’s how I can be most
is the assumption that misogyny is the root one. The Western position—that our values efficient. I could look good by banging
cause for the problems in the military. But were good—fell apart when we were asked my fist on the table, but what’s that going
isn’t misogyny the key issue? to do something that was hard for us, like to achieve?
Oh, there’s no question. Women always deal with the rights of migrants. I realized
served in military support positions, like that what I thought would be constant, I just don’t think that any person with a
nursing, but they were only fully integrated linear progress on these great ideas was, heart can look at the kinds of horrors that
into combat when the courts ordered it. It’s in fact, cyclical. I think we’re in a low part go on and not want to be more forceful to
not enough to think that, over time, this of the cycle now. make things better.
culture will start to dissipate. The military I am sure, because of that, they’d want
has to accept that it can’t fix everything by You said the Canadian military favours to be very strategic and think: well, okay,
itself. It has uniformity in its DNA. So if they the appearance of implementation over a er I bang my fist, how can I outsmart
keep thinking they can change things with substance. You could argue the federal these people? How can I make them do
PowerPoints and internal anti-misconduct government has similar limitations. something I know they don’t want to do?
initiatives, it’s not going to happen. That’s true. I don’t think there’s anything
in my report that is ideologically unac- I’m sure polite diplomacy can only go so
How do you rehabilitate an organization ceptable to the government, but it’s not far with despots. Eventually, you have to
whose members inflict and enable abuses a priority. There’s no price to pay for not show your teeth.
within its own ranks? It’s a snake eating doing anything—until seven years later, It depends on what tools you have. I didn’t
its own tail. when you appoint another judge. always have the capacity to do something
The military could use external partners like concrete. Issuing an indictment is a nice
the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Well, the price for inaction isn’t being paid way to do it, especially a er you’ve been dis-
It could also bring in experts from the civ- by the military or the government. It’s being missed as just “this little woman.” You wait
il corporate sector or send cadets to civil- paid by the victims. and wait, and when you’re ready: boom.
ian universities, where diversity is years Exactly, and they’ve been very courageous
ahead of what we’ll ever see in military to come forward. But until there’s wide- What makes you immune to the paralysis
colleges. If you just recruit white boys who spread public and political mobilization, that can come from witnessing so much
like guns but don’t like women or anybody it’s hard to expect quick implementation. tragedy?
who doesn’t look like them, you’ll perpet- I always hated the expression “being the Well, what’s the alternative? Give up alto-
uate that culture. voice of the victims.” They have voices; gether. I’m going to Africa now because I’m
what they need is a megaphone. on the board of the Mastercard Foundation.
You’ve spent a lot of time on conflicts On the way back, I stop in Geneva, where
that the international community initially Mary Fisk, one of your former principal I’m a member of the Global Commission
showed little urgency in dealing with, like advisors, said that people in your inner on Drug Policy. I don’t weep at the fate
Darfur and Rwanda. How do you deal with circle were occasionally frustrated that of the world when I’m packing my bags.
human rights abuses being met with poli- you weren’t more outspoken about certain I’m o en moved, but I’m always looking
ticking and platitudes? issues. for fixes. I think, with any luck, the phone
When I indicted Slobodan Milošević for Mary’s a good friend; I’m sure she was won’t ring, and I’ll just sit on my dock with
war crimes, I thought, This is the begin- struggling to say something negative. my 110-pound dog, Snoro. Then something
ning of a new era. When I was the high (I’m kidding.) Others were frustrated else comes up, and there I go again. Q
commissioner for human rights, there because I’m very results-oriented. The
was a lot of momentum, too. But I started naming-and-shaming culture that’s very This interview has been edited for length
to understand that “momentum” was a prevalent in NGOs—that’s their weapon. and clarity.




Tax million-dollar-home owners

Tackling the scourge of housing unaffordability isn’t impossible.
Older, wealthier homeowners just need to chip in. By Paul Kershaw

I’M 47 YEARS OLD NOW, but I started the down for 18 years. That said, since buying, poster boy for the good-timing lottery,
“think and change tank” Generation I’ve made more than a million dollars in especially when it comes to entering the
Squeeze when I was 36. Its mandate was equity. My partner and I have been able housing game. There are so many young
to tackle generational unfairness, and to do quite a few renos—and even some people out there who are just as smart as
one of the first areas I looked at was, un- additional investing—in large part because me—and just as hard-working as me—who
surprisingly, housing. I got into the Metro of the financial gains we’ve made from the can no longer buy in. Some of Generation
Vancouver property market in 2004— home. At one point, our place had tons of Squeeze’s recent research revealed that it
well before many millennials. I bought a leaks and a shaky foundation, but now it’s could take millennials decades longer than
single-family detached home for $540,000, pretty charming. it took the Boomers to afford homes in
and my mortgage still sits at well over Canada’s biggest cities. Why on earth are
$400,000 even though I’ve been paying it Baby boomers got their start in a more we tolerating this?
propitious time than me, but I’m still a


One of the best ways to challenge this epi- the Co-Operative Housing Federation of people didn’t work hard; we’re just saying
demic of unaffordability is by targeting Canada already have plans for how to scale hard work doesn’t pay off now as much as
the country’s tax policy. People talk about up housing that is geared to a person’s earn- it did when they were young. We’re asking
housing inflation like it’s a bad thing for ings. The city of Vancouver has a housing that more affluent members of the oldest
everyone, but it’s making a lot of owners plan for different income brackets, too. demographics invest in affordable shelter
rich—and many of those gains aren’t sub- These groups possess a lot of expertise; what for their kids and grandkids.
ject to taxation. In fact, our tax system has they’re lacking is resources. Our proposal
sheltered much of the $3.2 trillion in added would develop these resources for them, I’m a policy scholar by training, but, to
housing wealth that homeowners have generating revenue that could subsidize me, housing is no longer solely a policy
pocketed since 1977. At the same time, developers who work with non-profit issue in Canada—even if our idea zeroes
younger demographics are contending housing providers so that more proper- in on that. What we really have is a high
with home prices that rapidly outpace ties are sold at reasonable prices. We esti- tolerance for generational inequities. The
their earnings, and competing for scarce mate that our $5-billion idea could fund surtax solution requires the Canadian
rentals with rising rents. 150,000 new homes in the course of one government to double down on intergener-
election cycle and build on that amount ational solidarity, and make housing, taxa-
Our suggestion is to put a price on every year therea er. tion and other regulatory measures work
housing inequality—specifically, a modest for everyone—no matter what their age.
annual surtax on homes valued above one One of the biggest stumbling blocks
million dollars. This isn’t a totally scary to progress is Canadian real estate cul- Our polling data shows that two-thirds
idea; most of us already pay property taxes. ture, which entices many of us to bank on of Canadians support the surtax, but you’d
What’s different about our idea is progres- rising home prices to bolster our savings. be shocked to hear how much resistance
sivity. For the 12 per cent of Canadians Our existing tax structure only encourages I’ve received during the course of my
whose principal residences are valued at this mentality. The average Canadian is career. I’ve even created an email folder
over one million dollars, we’re proposing more heavily taxed on their employment exclusively for angry notes. What keeps
a small tax—a gentle squeeze—starting at income than million-dollar-home owners me motivated are the stories I’ve heard
0.2 per cent and peaking at 1 per cent for are on the sizable gains they make while from young people whose futures have
been jeopardized because the current
“Our addiction to rising real estate prices housing market is stacked against them.
distracts from the generational tension at I’ve spoken to women in their 20s who
want to have babies, but real estate prices
play in our housing system” are interfering with their ability to start a
family. I hear from children of immigrants
homes valued at $2 million and above. watching TV. (Even the United States, who say, “My parents sacrificed so much
Owners would pay no tax on the first our closest neighbour, doesn’t shelter to come to Canada, and I’m not living up
million. If you own a $1.1-million home, homeownership gains from taxation to to the dream they had for me.” All I can
frankly, it’s negligible: you’d pay $200 a the extent that Canada does.) This incen- tell them is that the game is rigged.
year. It could even be deferred, with a bit tivizes many Canadians to want housing
of added interest, until the home is sold prices to increase substantially faster than We can’t maintain a housing market
or inherited. We realize that some people earnings, which erodes affordability for that locks out younger people, while others
are house-rich but cash-poor, and we want the generations that follow. gain wealth as they sleep in homes they
to avoid putting any additional financial bought decades ago. Our surtax can help
pressure on those owners. In reality, this Our collective addiction to rising to stall this runaway train. We need all
surtax wouldn’t touch most Canadians. real estate prices also distracts from the Canadians to decide that housing should
generational tension at play in our hous- be about finding a place to call home—
According to our calculations, this tax ing system. Take the myth of the lazy more than we want it to be a way to get
would raise about $5 billion per year across millennial. If only they worked harder! rich. Building financial security by paying
Canada—primarily in Ontario and British If only they had fewer cell phones and off your mortgage over time is a perfectly
Columbia, where home prices have been lattes and less expensive breakfasts! Now fine savings strategy. But we shouldn’t
most inflated and, by extension, generated contrast that with the myth of the vulner- accept what our current housing system is
the most wealth for owners. And what able senior. That fragility might be real enabling: one-year windfalls that far sur-
should government do with the surtax in a biological sense, but according to re- pass what a hard-working, decently paid
money? We want it to be funnelled into cent data from Statistics Canada, today’s young person can save in a decade. That
purpose-built rentals and co-operative hous- retirees are some of the wealthiest we have model only works for one generation. Q
ing—or “non-profit housing.” Groups like ever seen—and a great deal of their wealth
the BC Non-Profit Housing Association or came from housing. No one is saying older Paul Kershaw is a policy professor at the
UBC School of Population and Public Health.
He is the founder of Generation Squeeze, a think
tank that promotes well-being and fairness for
Canadians of all ages.





Full House

Priced out of Vancouver, Martin and Nicole Chiu became first-time
homeowners only after a long-distance move—to Calgary

The buyers: Martin Chiu, a as Martin’s office. (“Nicole

39-year-old operations support joked, ‘You can do laundry

officer; Nicole Chiu, a 39-year- while you’re working!’ ” Martin

old stay-at-home mom; and their says.) Luckily for him, they

kids: Jacob, who’s nine, Chloe, found a new development on

who’s four, Nate, who’s two, and the northeast side of the city

Clarke, who’s seven months. that they both liked better.

The three-storey townhouse

The budget: $300,000 was listed at $295,000 and was a

20-minute drive from downtown

The backstory: In 2011, the Chiu Calgary. The main entrance

family moved into an East Van- opened up to a ground-floor

couver home owned by Martin’s den, while the kitchen, living

parents. In many ways, it was room and a powder room were

the ideal arrangement. The on the second floor. The third

couple had the lower unit— floor had three bedrooms and

a two-bedroom, one-bathroom “When we walked in, we two full bathrooms. It was a cor-
suite—all to themselves. Plus, ner unit, so plenty of sunlight

they could still enjoy weekly had the immediate feeling flooded in. “When we walked in,
family dinners, babysitting perks we had the immediate feeling

(as needed), visits to Kitsilano that it was our home” that it was our home,” Nicole
Beach and community events says. And there was a playground

hosted by their local church. just a one-minute walk away.

But when Martin and Nicole’s The couple submitted an offer

third child, Nate, came along in 2019, the home. Neither of them initially considered of $275,000 on the same day as their

couple took over the home’s more spacious an out-of-province move, but Vancouver’s viewing. After a brief back-and-forth,

three-bedroom upper unit. Before they astronomical prices shi ed their focus as the owner—who had purchased a new

moved in with Martin’s parents, they had far east as Calgary. “At first, I was like, property and was eager to sell—accepted

eyed a place in South Surrey, but Martin ‘What’s in Calgary?’ ” Nicole says. “But it a bid of $287,500. “We were in our hotel

balked at the lengthy commute time. grew on me as we started looking at prop- room, shouting, ‘Yes, we’re homeowners!’”

In January of 2021, a three-bedroom prop- erties online.” The one-hour flight—or Martin says.

erty across the street was listed for roughly 12-hour drive—to Vancouver was worth Last June, the Chiu family packed their

$1.3 million. It was an older model with no it for regular visits with the grandparents. belongings into a U-Haul and drove east

garage, but the open house still drew a crowd. with their three kids, stopping overnight in

Martin and Nicole realized how much the The hunt: Martin and Nicole booked flights Revelstoke. The kids were excited; Nicole,

neighbourhood had changed—and how to scope out Calgary with the kids during who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time,

unattainable homeownership would be if March Break, interspersing viewings with was hot. They settled in easily: the Chiu

they stayed put. “All the cars that pulled trips to Lake Louise and the Calgary Zoo. children quickly made friends with other

up were Audis, BMWs and Land Rovers,” Their real estate advisor, Tom Kelly, showed kids in their complex, and a church in

Nicole says. “We realized that even living the family eight townhouses. “I grew up southeast Calgary even threw Nicole a

down the street was totally out of reach.” in a townhouse, so I’m used to living in a baby shower. This summer, the family is

On top of that, Nicole learned soon a er- community with a bunch of other families planning trips to Banff, Drumheller and,

wards that she was pregnant with Clarke. close by,” Nicole says. once again, the zoo. (It’s a crowd-pleaser.)

They needed more room. The Chius initially eyed a unit in north- They still miss their family in Vancouver,

The couple figured they could afford to west Calgary with three bedrooms and a Martin says. The gridlock? Not so much.

spend up to $300,000 on a three-bedroom large downstairs area that could double —Andrea Yu




The Rez Rebel

Paulina Alexis, breakout
star of the FX series
Reservation Dogs, is

upending Hollywood tradition
while upholding her own

IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG for Reservation Dogs to
secure Hollywood’s stamp of approval. In
the year since its debut, the FX dramedy—
which is co-created by Oscar-winner Taika
Waititi—has clinched a Peabody, a Golden
Globe nomination and an Independent
Spirit Award for best ensemble cast. The
team itself is an entertainment industry
anomaly, though: every single one of the
show’s writers and actors is Indigenous—
including fan favourite Paulina Alexis.

The 20-year-old actress, who plays the
tough-talking, tear-jerking character Willie
Jack, hails from the Alexis Nakota Sioux
Nation in Alberta. Her childhood was full
of on-screen opportunities: Alexis’s father,
Robb, owned a small production company.
“I would play around with my brothers and
make my own little skits,” Alexis recalls. But
it wasn’t until she turned 18 that she went

POP QUIZ pro. Alexis’s first big gig was a minor role in
Ghostbusters: A erlife, which she snagged
On-set comforts: “Sage for a er sending director Jason Reitman into
protection, sweetgrass for healing stitches during her Calgary audition.
and hockey equipment”
Character crossovers: “Everything. Alexis soon landed a role in Beans, an
My dad always says, ‘Paulina is acclaimed 2020 drama from Mohawk film-
Willie Jack. They just had to turn the maker Tracey Deer. Six months later, she
cameras on.’ ” caught wind of an upcoming series about
Favourite films: A Bronx four teens on an Oklahoma reserve. Alexis
Tale, Napoleon Dynamite and initially auditioned for Elora Danan, the
Son of Rambow show’s female lead, but the showrunners
Important meeting: “Will Smith, thought she was better suited to play the
Jada Pinkett Smith, Melissa McCarthy wily Willie Jack—a role originally written
and Sarah Paulson on the red carpet.” for a male actor. In true Canadian form,
Viral moment: “Facebook has the she found out she got the part while watch-
best Reservation Dogs memes. I share ing a hockey game. “I started freaking out
them on my private account whenever in the stands,” she says.
I see them.”
Now, it’s her fans who are freaking
PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL SWANSON out. The show kicks off its second season
on August 3 on Hulu, and the internet is
already chockablock with memes of the
eminently quotable Willie Jack, known
for her wisecracks and backwards Urban
Native Era hats. In real life, Alexis strikes
a balance between her newfound fame
and life back home, where she still plays
centre on her hockey team when she’s
not filming.

Occasionally, worlds collide: at last year’s
Emmys, Alexis wore a beaded eagle affixed
to her braid and a long skirt to hide the leg
bruises she incurred while racing horses in
an Indian relay four days before. “I’ve got
a ton of followers on Instagram, and I go
to L.A. a lot for free, but not that much
has changed,” says Alexis, whose next role
is on CBC’s Bones of Crows. “I put on new
shoes here and there, but I’m still wearing
the same slides I wore on the rez.”

—Kelly Boutsalis



Wild at Heart

The animals that inhabit Montreal’s
beloved Biodôme are at the centre of its

recent architectural overhaul

JULIE JODOIN IS FINE WITH most descriptions of Montreal’s THE LIVING SKIN The skin’s seemingly endless surface is multi- Exterior: Claude Lafond; lobby: Marc Cramer
Biodôme—just not zoo. “At a zoo, you observe animals,” functional: it muffles sound and acts as a demarcation between the
says Jodoin, acting director of Space for Life, the city-owned museum’s entrance and its ecosystems. The material is resilient enough
organization that operates the popular museum. “Here, to handle outdoor exposure—necessary, given that it adjoins five
you’re immersed in their world.” Since its opening in 1992, dramatically different climate zones.
the Biodôme has housed 200-plus species in five reproduced
ecosystems beneath the soaring concrete vault of the city’s
Olympic velodrome. Live lynxes prowl the perimeter of its
Laurentian Maple Forest, while the Tropical Rainforest area
comes complete with outfit-soaking mists.

By 2014, however, Space for Life’s leadership felt that the
Biodôme wasn’t immersive enough. That year, the museum
launched an international design competition, with the goal
of adjusting the building’s rote, linear traffic flow and expand-
ing visitors’ exposure to the animals. The winner was Kanva,
a small Montreal architecture outfit whose proposal was
designed in collaboration with Montreal’s Neuf Architectes
and the engineering firms Bouthillette Parizeau and NCK.
Kanva’s co-founder, Rami Bebawi, had a flash of self-doubt
a er his victory. “I knew how to design for people,” he says.
“Not penguins.”

A er a two-year renovation—and plenty of collaboration
with local biologists—the Biodôme reopened in August of
2020, greeting museumgoers with an eye-popping new fea-
ture: its grand entrance hall is now enveloped in a “living
skin” made of four-storey swathes of polyester coated with
PVC. At the back of the hall, the skin narrows to a slender
passageway whose floor slopes almost imperceptibly upward,
slowing visitors to prepare them for the wilderness within.

The ecosystems got a makeover, too: Kanva chose finishes
like glass and local ash wood, materials that are more resist-
ant to decay. The team also designed the museum’s new
matrix of ramps to properly shade the Biodôme’s many plant
species and shi ed its existing rock formations to facilitate
more aerodynamic penguin belly flops. Elsewhere, a basin
full of fish, previously obscured by rocks, has been raised,
allowing visitors to get closer to the Biodôme’s cast of crea-
tures than ever before. “The whole idea of the redesign is
that these animals are not exhibits,” Bebawi says. “This is
where they live, and we are their guests.”

—Matthew Halliday

16 AUGUST 2022

Kanva’s renovation is also
a restoration of an Olympic

landmark. Designed by
French architect Roger
Taillibert, the facility’s
original architecture—and,

in particular, its vast,
vaulted ceiling—was largely
obscured in the Biodôme’s

previous incarnation.

Mezzanine: James Brittain; ice tunnel: Melanie Dusseault; portrait: Jimmy Hamelin THE MEZZANINE This area offers an aerial perspective of the THE ICE TUNNEL The entrance to RAMI BEBAWI
Tropical Rainforest, Laurentian Maple Forest and Gulf of St. Lawrence the Sub-Antarctic Islands ecosystem
ecosystems. It also contains the Bio-Machine, an interactive exhibition is a downward-sloping passage Bebawi is a co-founder
where visitors assume the role of ecosystem “operator,” toggling the encrusted with ice. Its frosty walls of Kanva, a Montreal-
environmental factors that keep the various biomes in balance. are 20 centimetres thick. based multidisciplinary

architecture firm.
Recently, he was the
lead architect on Traces,
a multimedia public-
art installation at the
Canada Pavilion site at
Expo 2020 in Dubai.




Sam Effah

Co-chef de mission,
Commonwealth Games

Sam Effah’s Olympic sprinting
days may be in the past, but he’s
still a man on the go. In late July,
Effah will represent Team Canada
as one of two chefs de mission
for the 2022 Commonwealth
Games in Birmingham, England.
This week, he split his spending
between work and play.

Monday Jays play the Minnesota Twins ($40). To be Saturday
honest, I’m not a baseball fan, but I love
Last night, I flew to Ottawa to light the the atmosphere of the stadium. Last summer, I trained with four-time
Canada Games torch at the Centennial Olympic coach Joey Scott and started using
Flame monument on Parliament Hill. It Thursday his line of supplements, JML Levitate Nutri-
was such an honour. Pascale St-Onge, the tion. His team let me work out with them
minister of sport, was there. I started my The bachelor party continued in Niagara during lockdown. Today, I re-upped on my
day with a three-egg omelette and coffee Falls. We went go-karting at the Niagara favourite JML protein powder ($115). I do
($24) from room service. I don’t normally Speedway ($130), which was fun, even everything I can to support good people.
drink coffee, but I needed to stay alert. though kids were driving circles around me.
We headed to Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse Sunday
Tuesday for an all-you-can-eat meat dinner ($111).
There was so much steak and chicken; I went to the Farm Boy in my building
My mom is coming to visit at the end of I don’t want to look at meat ever again. to buy avocado, bread, vegan cheese
the month, so my wife, Sofia, and I bought and vegan mayo ($42) to make my wife
us all tickets to a Greek-themed beach Friday a grilled cheese before she headed to
picnic ($450) on the Toronto lakeshore Miami for a friend’s bachelorette week-
as a 60th-birthday surprise. One of her I drove back to Toronto in my rented silver end. She’s vegan, and I participate out
best friends, Gloria, my sister, Erica, and Ford Escape ($196). I had to stop for gas, of support. But when she’s out of town, I
Gloria’s son, Ian, will be joining us, too— which cost me $75 and didn’t even fill the have my steak (see Thursday for proof).
and my mom has no idea! tank. It hurt my heart!
—As told to Lora Grady

We kicked off celebrations for my friend
Chris’s bachelor party today. I know Chris
from my track days. The seven of us grabbed
some food and drinks ($74) at the Loose
Moose in downtown Toronto and then we
went to the Rogers Centre to watch the Blue







20 AUGUST 2022

DEAD WOOD The trees around the
community of Logan Lake were scorched

in last summer’s wildfires. Thanks to
careful preparation and a shift in the wind,

the town itself was spared.


ABOUT 40 YEARS AGO, THE STORY GOES, SEVERALTIBETAN BUDDHIST MONKS couple of hours later, they noticed a plume
of smoke above the trees to the south of their
declared that they had discovered the centre of the universe property. The smoke was pale grey, the plume
in the mountains north of Kamloops, British Columbia. The still small. They raced over to a neighbour’s
monks, who visited several times, were reportedly able to place a few kilometres away and saw a grass
identify the spot—a grassy knoll near Deadman River—by fire spreading. It was so hot, and the wind
its distinctive volcanic topography and through a series of so fierce, that the fire was already moving
numinous tests, one of which was the ability to start a fire very quickly. “We just heard a roar, and then
in the area without an ignition source. the flames started coming toward us,” Potts
said. Back home, Beharrell called 911, who
In 2016, Marshall Potts bought 160 undeniably remote—Kamloops was a two- transferred her to the BC Wildfire Service,
acres of land about an hour’s drive from hour round-trip drive along a narrow, the province’s wildfire-fighting corps. “We
the centre of the universe. Like the monks, sometimes treacherous, gravel road—but thought the fire was significant,” Potts said,
Potts—a 54-year-old country-rock musician that was part of the attraction. “You learn “but we figured they’d be able to put it out.”
and self-described “spiritual guy” who’d to drink your coffee black,” Beharrell told
previously lived in the Lower Mainland— me, “because there’s no corner store to They didn’t. Or at least not right away.
found the landscape magical. There were run to when you’re out of cream.” They An hour passed, then another. From their
soul-stirring groves of Douglas fir, verdant christened the place Seven Sparks Ranch, home, Potts and Beharrell watched with
grasslands, and unspoiled lakes and creeks. named in part for a nearby body of water, mounting anxiety as the plume became a
Mule deer, black bears and bighorn sheep Sparks Lake. column and its smoke got blacker, indicat-
roamed the woods and cliffsides. Potts and ing that it was burning more vegetation.
his partner, Jo-Anne Beharrell, an account- It can get hot on the ranch in summer, but A er four or five hours, BC Wildfire flew
ant who moonlights as Potts’s manager, the summer of 2021 in the south-central part planes overhead, observing the fire. By the
wanted to turn the property into an off- of B.C.’s Interior was mind-bendingly hot. next morning, as firefighters arrived by heli-
grid hobby farm and live self-sufficiently. On June 28, the temperature in Kamloops copter and began to strategize, the blaze
They cut and milled trees to build a house, hit a high of 44 degrees Celsius, almost 20 had already spread. Potts and Beharrell
grew their own vegetables, and acquired degrees above average. Potts and Beharrell had lost power by then, and started moving
chickens and a small herd of cattle. They went down to Criss Creek, a half-hour’s farm equipment onto the grass away from
set about installing solar panels. It was drive from their house, to cool off and have trees. The fire crews told the couple that by
a picnic lunch. When they returned home a the time the fire hit a nearby ridge, they’d
have to evacuate. It hit the ridge later that
day. “It was a monster,” Potts said. They

22 AUGUST 2022

Beharrell and Marshall Potts loved

the woodland landscape where
they built their house. Today, half

the trees are gone.

ON THE GROUND grabbed what they could: a couple of Potts’s
favourite guitars and an amp, a laptop and
DOUG WILSON a hard drive, some photos, their two dogs
(one of whom was pregnant). They took a
FIRE CHIEF, Logan Lake forest service road out of the back of their
property and drove to Kamloops.
“I cut my teeth as a volunteer firefighter in Langley, starting in 1989. In 2015, when
Even in town they couldn’t get away
we moved up here, the chief saw my fire hat. After six months, he said, ‘You start from fire. They ended up in a motel near
the neighbourhood of Juniper Ridge.
Wednesday.’ I moved up the ranks pretty quickly, and when the chief retired, council Before the night was over, a different,
smaller wildfire broke out just behind the
put me in. I didn’t have much experience motel. A er about a week, they went to
stay at Potts’s brother’s place at Pinantan
with wildfires other than when Langley Lake, 20 kilometres away. Soon a er they
arrived, another fire was menacing that
“WE WATCHED THE FIRE sent me to Salmon Arm in 1998 to help community, and it was eventually put on
out and then in Kelowna in 2003. Last year, evacuation alert, too.

APPROACH FOR 10 DAYS. when the Tremont Creek fire threatened The Sparks Lake fire was the largest of
THE MOMENT IT WENT OVER Logan Lake, it was a whole different situ- the season, a conflagration that raged for
ation. My son is here; my family is here. more than two months, devouring 95,980
hectares of land and trees and destroying
TUNKWA LAKE, WE KNEW WE My neighbours and co-workers are here. or damaging more than 35 buildings. Hun-
WERE IN TROUBLE.” We watched the fire approach for 10 days, dreds of people were forced to evacuate;
and the moment it went over Tunkwa countless animals and birds were killed
or displaced. The fire cut a broad swath
Lake, we knew we were in trouble. We through the region, from the Deadman
River valley, across the territory of the
had the mayor sign an evacuation order Skeetchestn Indian Band, and up north
into Bonaparte Provincial Park.
and set up sprinklers and bladder bags.
There were few places anybody could
You could see the dark cloud coming and feel the wind pushing. I wasn’t scared, but I go in B.C. that summer. In terms of area
burned, 2021 was the third-worst fire sea-
was uncertain as to when to pull my crews away. The fire came within 30 feet of one son on record in the province’s history.
In terms of its broad impact, however, the
house and I said, ‘Look, we’re going to lose it.’ The crew was having no part of it. We 2021 fire season was the most devastating
B.C. had ever experienced. Between April 1,
requested air support in the morning but were told it wasn’t available—there were so 2021, and March 28, 2022, there were 1,642
wildfires, 67 of which were bad enough to
many other fires. All of a sudden, at noon, we hear the chirping of the bird dog—the be classified as “wildfires of note” by BC
Wildfire. Then there was the disorienting
lead plane—which means get out of the way because he’s dropping retardant. And then, drought and blistering heat waves of late
June and early July that made the fires so
at the 11th hour, the wind shifted. Mother Nature definitely helped us out with that.” much worse—the “heat dome” that settled
over the Pacific Northwest and immediately
transformed a normally temperate climate
into one better approximating Death Valley.

On June 29, Lytton broke the record
for the all-time highest temperature in
Canada—49.5 degrees Celsius—and the
next day, the entire village was wiped out
by yet another wildfire. Two people died
in the Lytton fire, and the heat would kill
more than 600 across the province. Just a
few months later, with the charred terrain
stripped of water-absorbing vegetation,
extreme rainfall in mid-November flooded

24 AUGUST 2022

homes, swept away highways and forced the IN EARLY MAY, I travelled from Abbotsford disaster zone. The first dead trees I saw were
evacuations of thousands more across the up through the Kamloops Fire Centre to near the Coldwater Indian Band Reserve,
southern part of the province. Like so many see the ravages of last year’s fires, what south of Merritt. Suddenly, the landscape
people, Marshall Potts and Jo-Anne Beharrell the recovery looked like and how people was drained of colour. All I could see were
were cut off from their family in the Lower were coping. grim groves of black pines and firs, stripped
Mainland. They were able to get back into of needle and cone. Over the next few days,
their house by Christmas—firefighters had I spent a fair bit of time in the region as I’d encounter many other such stands, and
ultimately prevented its destruction—but a kid, learning to tack and ride horses. It is each time was a fresh shock, like discovering
they spent the holiday alone. achingly beautiful, physically imposing. In new tumours in a body that was supposed
the space of an hour, you can travel through to be cancer-free.
There had been disastrous fire seasons snow-capped mountains and desert mesas,
before. Potts and Beharrell had previously coniferous trees giving way to sagebrush. Then there was the other destruction,
been evacuated, during 2017’s Elephant There are long stretches of empty highway, still also visible, of human settlement—
Hill fire, another monster that destroyed interrupted by somewhat drab, ramshackle of family homes, of small businesses, of
a good chunk of the area’s forest. Experts villages and hamlets, as if the architects of carefully tended gardens and trusty vehi-
argued that such megafires were a har- these developments saw no point in com- cles. Lytton, whose cleanup and recovery has
binger of climate change, and a sign of peting with the natural beauty surrounding been plagued by inexplicable bureaucratic
environmental catastrophe to come. But them. The people who live here are, gener- delay, was still, almost a year later, closed
the cascade of natural disasters in 2021 ally speaking, people who make their living to the public. An opaque barrier had been
made it clearer than ever that a climate placed up on the highway to deter gawkers,
emergency is irrevocably upon us. Mike “You think things but a narrow gap below that barrier still per-
Flannigan, the British Columbia research are crazy now,” one mitted a glimpse of the devastation: block
chair in predictive services, emergency fire expert said, “but a er block of levelled structures, dunes of
management and fire science at Thompson it’s only going to get ash, hollowed-out lives.
Rivers University in Kamloops—he calls
himself a “fire guy” on Twitter—told me crazier” All over the world, the recipe for wild-
that he hadn’t expected climate events fire is the same, requiring just three basic
like those in B.C. last summer to occur from the land—farmers, miners, ranchers, ingredients: vegetation (what forestry and
for another 15 or 20 years, and yet there loggers—and who also spend most of their fire people call fuel), ignition and conducive
they were. Last year, it seemed, was a ter- free time out in it, fishing and hunting, weather—hot, dry, windy. In B.C., particu-
rible tipping point. “You think things are swimming and skiing. For someone like larly in the last five years, all of these ele-
crazy now,” Flannigan said, “but it’s only me, who now spends about 99 per cent of ments have taken on extreme dimensions.
going to get crazier.” his life in cities, the membrane between the The first ingredient is the most easily—but
human and natural world in this country also the most contentiously—addressed.
And if Flannigan wasn’t prepared for feels unusually thin. Long before settlers arrived in the province,
what had already happened, how will the Indigenous peoples kept wildfire in check
rest of us fare? Residents of B.C., at least As I drove into the mountains on the through prescribed and cultural burns;
outside densely populated Vancouver and Coquihalla Highway, I passed dozens of that is, intentionally setting highly con-
its expanding suburbs, have always proudly work crews cleaning up debris from last trolled fires at low-risk times of year. The
accepted the risks that come with living in year’s mudslides—immense tangles of rock, practice was designed to thin out forests,
or near the bush. That was part of the deal— branches and other vegetation—and repairing render the bark of old-growth trees more
like living with the chance of hurricanes in chunks of road that had been melted by the fire-resistant, remove dead grass and encour-
Florida or earthquakes (and wildfires, for heat or ripped apart by floodwater. Each site age the growth of beneficial plants. These
that matter) in California. Now things are was marked by long strings of orange safety burns would occur every five to 25 years
different. What was once incomprehen- flags that fluttered overhead, lending an and essentially rebalance the ecosystem.
sible today feels inevitable. It’s one thing almost festive air to what still seemed like a
to understand risk as an occasional and Such maintenance was more or less out-
distant possibility. Now your brain has to lawed in the late 19th century by colonial
accept that life, going forward, will be even governments, which viewed any kind of fire
more frequently marred by displacement, as destructive to valuable timber. Several
loss and death. You have to completely decades of commercial logging made the
recalibrate your ideas of safety and vul- landscape even more vulnerable to fire, with
nerability. Enormous changes are going diverse woodlands largely replaced by tree
to come at the last minute. And simple, farms consisting almost entirely of conifers.
age-old questions about the weather—“Hot The region’s pine, notoriously, has been
enough for you?” “Which way is the wind ravaged by the mountain pine beetle, with
blowing?”—are going to be freighted with dead and weakened trees becoming highly
existential dread. flammable fuel on the forest floor. Other
sloppy and short-sighted practices—not


removing scrap wood le behind by log- more than 65,000 people were evacuated flames. Someone’s burn pile? A pulp mill?
gers, as well as a policy of reflexively, blindly province-wide, and 1.2 million hectares It was nothing threatening, ultimately, but
stamping out all wildfire—turned the prov- burned. In 2018, there were over 2,000 fires it gave me just the smallest hint of the fear
ince’s forests, over time, into tinderboxes. and 1.35 million hectares burned. “Growth that many locals live with.
“We’re up against a major issue, which is a into the wildland-urban interface increases
hundred years of fuel loading,” says Kira every year,” Ian Meier, executive director I was in a particularly fretful frame
Hoffman, a Smithers-based fire ecologist of the BC Wildfire Service, told me. “So the of mind that day. I had just been visit-
who is in training to be a burn boss (some- challenge increases every year.” There are ing with Kody and Ashlynn Kruesel, a
one who plans and implements prescribed about 1.1 million high-risk hectares in B.C. couple in their early 30s. Last August,
burns). “We’ve become really, really good the Kruesels’ tiny village of Monte Lake,
at putting out fires.” While prescribed fires In 2017, the worst fire season to date, the a half-hour drive east of Kamloops, was
are again a part of fire management, both province spent $649 million fighting fires; engulfed by the White Rock Lake fire, one
by Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, it spent another $565 million last year. The of those few really large fires that Flannigan
the province needs to clean up all the fuel insurance payouts from just two of 2021’s mentioned. In a matter of eight hours, its
from forest floors at a much larger scale megafires—Lytton Creek and White Rock flames travelled 18 kilometres and con-
before those burns can be effective. Lake—came to $179 million. If wildfires sumed at least 28 homes and one busi-
have been made worse by climate change, ness. The Kruesels were able to evacuate
Human-caused wildfires—ignited by climate change has also been made worse in time, but just barely. A er driving for
stray cigarette butts, downed power lines or by wildfires: Elephant Hill, for example, 45 minutes, glowing embers from the fire
arson—account for about half of all fires, on spewed 38 million tons of greenhouse gases were still floating down onto their truck.
average, across the entire country. Thanks into the atmosphere. And while it’s impos- When they returned home the next day,
to fire prevention education and vigilance, sible to pinpoint exactly how much harm they discovered that every one of their
the number of human-caused fires has the smoke from last summer’s wildfires outbuildings—including a garage, a garden
actually been declining. In B.C.’s 2021 fire caused, a report in the Lancet published in shed, a workshop and an old sauna—had
season, just 35 per cent of fires were attrib- September of 2021 estimated that short- been destroyed. The A-frame house they’d
uted to people. At the same time, thanks to term exposure to wildfire smoke causes bought two years earlier had been spared.
a warming planet, lightning strikes, which 440 deaths in Canada every year. Their neighbours’ homes on either side,
account for the other half of Canada’s fires, however, were completely gutted. Almost
have increased exponentially. During last On an average summer’s day, most fire a year later, the fire’s unbearable caprice
summer’s heat wave, more than 710,000 management agencies can put out wild- was still evident—I saw a scorched hand
lightning strikes were recorded in B.C. and fires without too much trouble or damage. cart lying in the mud, one rubber wheel
western Alberta, up from a five-year average That can completely change when the heat intact and the other, just inches away,
of 8,300 during the same time of year. The is extreme—days, even weeks, of extreme completely melted.
wildfires themselves, now so notoriously weather are now, of course, increasingly
aggressive and unpredictable, can create common. The heat dome, once considered While the Kruesels fled the fire at first,
their own firestorms and yet more light- a thousand-year event, is now expected to they returned to help fight it. For several
ning—a terrifying feedback loop. recur as frequently as every 25 years. By days a er the fire blew through Monte Lake,
2050, average temperatures are expected to they told me, the BC Wildfire Service was
Since the early 1970s, the amount of be higher, with daytime highs in Vancouver nowhere to be seen. Kody, a former CN
forest that burns every year in Canada as much as 3.7 degrees Celsius warmer heavy equipment operator whose father had
has doubled to about 2.5 million hec- than they are now. Under such conditions, been a volunteer fireman, quickly joined
tares—about half the size of Nova Scotia. another diabolical cycle is set in motion— forces with some neighbours, taking up
In the 1980s, as more people moved into a warming atmosphere sucks more mois- hoses, pumps and buckets. The fire front
or near wilderness, and built homes and ture from vegetation, essentially baking that had come and gone, but there were still
businesses there, so-called interface fires fuel, resulting in overwhelmingly intense numerous spot fires that needed to be put
became more common. (“Wildland-urban fires that are difficult, if not impossible, out. A change in the wind could have been
interface” is the firefighting term used to to extinguish. Those fires are the biggest lethal, but there were homes to salvage, ani-
describe the transition zone where hu- threat. “It’s just a few really large fires that mals to save. Days later, Solicitor General
man development brushes up against the are responsible for most of our problems,” Mike Farnworth publicly excoriated Monte
natural world.) In B.C., in 2003, the Oka- Mike Flannigan told me. “Three per cent Lake residents who defied the evacuation
nagan suffered the largest interface wild- of the fires burn 97 per cent of the area order, saying they were putting themselves
fire event in the province’s history. More burned. And these o en happen on a few and firefighters at risk. “We didn’t want to
than 25,000 hectares burned, 238 homes critical days—the extremes of the extremes.” be here,” Kody said. “It wasn’t fun. But
were destroyed or damaged, and more than this is my home—I’m not going anywhere
33,000 people evacuated from Kelowna and AS I MADE MY WAY across the fire centre, I if nobody else is taking care of it.” When
the community of Naramata. Then came occasionally smelled smoke. I saw it, too, firefighters showed up in Monte Lake, the
the horrific fire seasons of 2017 and 2018. from time to time, and once, on a ridge Kruesels said they were apologetic. “ ‘We’re
Over the course of the summer of 2017, just outside of Kamloops, the flicker of super embarrassed we weren’t allowed up

26 AUGUST 2022

ON EDGE Kody and Ashlynn
Kruesel fled a big fire in their tiny

village of Monte Lake with little
time to spare. They returned soon

after to help fight it.

ON THE GROUND here,’ ” Kody remembered BC Wildfire
firefighters telling him. “ ‘This is our job.
MARK& LISASCHUITEMA We should have been up here.’ ”

FARMERS, Merritt I talked with the Kruesels on their front
porch, as their ducks gurgled nearby and
LISA: “We’ve been here for seven years. When you live here and you start to see their black cat, Robin, nuzzled my leg. All
around us, the devastation of last summer
the smoke—and all you see is smoke—it makes you feel a little panicky and anxious. was still on full display. Houses reduced to
cinder-block foundations, pooling with
There were some years where it wasn’t very smoky, we didn’t have fires nearby and brackish water. Mounds of scrap and brush
being belatedly burned. Further down the
it was relatively good. Then there are road, the charred, flattened husks of cars
piled up against each other. The horizon
summers where the last half would just was dominated by now-familiar dead,
black trees—silent, skeletal sentries at a
“I DIDN’T SLEEPTHAT NIGHT, be smoke. You don’t do anything outside. crime scene.
BECAUSE IT WAS SUPER Last year, though, the fire from Lytton
came right down to us. I was always watch- But it was a crime scene in which the
survivors, broken and sad, kept living,
WINDYAND I COULD HEAR THE ing the fire map to see where the border reminded daily of their trauma. The
FIRES. I DON’T KNOW HOW was changing. I would look up and say, Kruesels had moved to Monte Lake be-
‘Okay, it’s going up; there’s not too much cause it was one of the few places where
they could afford to buy a house, but also
MANY TIMES I PRAYED; I WAS to worry about.’ But then it started com- because they loved the hiking and kayaking
JUST SO TERRIFIED.” ing this way, and I was thinking, Crap, it’s that were literally in their backyard. A er the
getting close. Then, when a neighbour’s fire, the local roads they used for camping
and fishing were all closed, choked off by
house, 10 minutes down the road, was fallen and dead trees that still hadn’t been
removed. With the woodlands decimated,
on fire, we were like, ‘We have to go.’ We there was nothing to break the wind that
frequently whipped through the commun-
went to town. There were two different fires, on either side of us. I barely slept that ity. There was an arsonist in the area, too,
Kody said, who had, incredibly, started 18
night, because it was super windy and I could hear the fires. I don’t know how many fires in a single day. It was drizzling as we
talked, but Kody was nervous about the
times I prayed; I was just so terrified. We put our farm up for sale in January. But I coming fire season. “We’re going to have
a week, maybe two, of rain,” he said. “And
don’t think there’s anywhere you can go to get away from the fires unless you move then we’re going to hit another dry summer
again. So we’re a little on edge.”
to the coast. I like living out here, though. I would take the risk of the fires over living
When I asked what they could do to
on the coast again.” prepare for future fires, Kody shrugged.
“You go slowly,” he said. “You try to pur-
chase some sprinklers and generators and
pumps. But it all costs money. And what
do you pick as a priority?” Ashlynn works
as an office manager at Kamloops Alarm,
a security company, but Kody is currently
unemployed, nursing some bad tendin-
itis. Their insurance had expired before
the fire hit. Aside from a tiny GoFundMe
that a friend had set up—it raised a few
hundred dollars—they had received no
financial assistance. Thanks to the fire,
though, they’ve become much closer to
their neighbours, solidarity bred of tra-
gedy. They’ve formed a private Facebook
group, making sure everybody has each

28 AUGUST 2022

other’s phone numbers, knows exact- The money was welcome, for sure, with and decent infrastructure, wildfire dispro-
ly how many people live in each home, some of it going toward more prescribed portionately affects those communities.
how many animals they have, and what burns in an attempt to correct decades of
kind of equipment they can offer in case poor forest management. But it wasn’t Mike Anderson, a 72-year-old profes-
of another fire. Everyone has an escape enough, according to many residents I sional forester who runs the Skeetchestn
route planned. There’s a rough chain of spoke with. There are deeper, more intract- Natural Resources Corporation, watched
command. There are plans to co-purchase able problems within the organization. the Sparks Lake fire build for two weeks.
a large truck outfitted with a big water tank Ranchers, farmers and foresters, people While the Skeetchestn Indian Band was
and pump. If someone sees a fire anywhere, who have lived and worked on the land forced to evacuate, scattering band mem-
they immediately inform the group. It’s their entire lives, say they are repeatedly bers for a month, Anderson’s crew of about
all improvisatory—“half-assed,” in Kody’s ignored when wildfires break out, or their 15 stayed behind to fight the fire. They set
words—but at least it provides some sec- equipment—CATs that could be used to up a command centre where firefighters and
urity. “We’ve learned we can’t rely on our dig fire breaks, say—goes unused. A er the volunteers could be fed, dug large firebreaks
own government,” Kody said, “so we’ve 2003 and 2017 fire seasons, reports were to guide flames into prescribed burn areas
come together as a community.” commissioned to determine what went and put out spot fires. When BC Wildfire
wrong, with both strongly recommending showed up a few days later, Anderson and
THE KRUESELS ARE ANGRY at a lot of people: his crew repeatedly offered advice and guid-
the Red Cross, the logging companies, the “The SparksLake ance, but were frequently ignored or told
media, the looters and the looky-loos— fire—last summer’s to get out of the way. They were told they
tourists who still occasionally pass through largest—devoured didn’t have the right equipment or training,
Monte Lake, snapping pics of the ruins. But Anderson said, or that they weren’t prop-
it is BC Wildfire that draws their greatest ire. nearly 96,000 erly registered. “What I witnessed was mis-
hectares of land management and ignorance by BC Wildfire
The BC Wildfire Service is a division Service,” Anderson told me, adding that
of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, and trees” the agency was “arrogant” and “territor-
Natural Resource Operations and Rural ial.” Hoffman argues that the root issue is
Development. Its basic job is to manage and the same thing: that BC Wildfire make both obvious and complex—colonialism
mitigate wildfires on behalf of the provincial better use of local knowledge. Now, years itself. “The thing about fire is that it is so
government, and to protect lives and values later, this remains an issue. “It’s still very embedded in Indigenous sovereignty,”
(the agency’s word). The agency has about much an agency-led approach,” Kira Hoff- she said. “It becomes this huge issue with
1,700 firefighters and support staff and man, the fire ecologist, said of BC Wildfire. Crown land, and who owns what.”
works with many other organizations: the “If someone hasn’t gone through their
First Nations’ Emergency Services Society accreditation or certification process, BC By the time the Sparks Lake fire had been
of B.C. and the Forest Enhancement Soci- Wildfire doesn’t think that person knows put out—as had another one that followed
ety of B.C., as well as local fire departments what they’re doing.” on its heels—Anderson had watched, heart-
and private firefighting companies. It pro- broken, as two-thirds of his woodlot, which
vides equipment, personnel and strategy Eighty per cent of all Indigenous com- he’d grown, tended and selectively logged
during the fire season and is also respon- munities live in forested areas, and the for 35 years, went up in smoke. So had one
sible, alongside private landowners, for hunters and gatherers in those commun- hundred per cent of Skeetchestn’s wood-
the maintenance and mitigation of for- ities, in particular, know best the roads, lots. Darrel Draney, the band’s Kukpi7, or
ests and grasslands, including the use of the water sources, the wind patterns and chief, was furious and saddened by it all.
prescribed burns. Like organizations in which parts of the woods are heaviest with His community included generations of
comparable fire zones—California’s Cal fuel—in short, all the things you need to firekeepers, experts in the ways fire behaves
Fire and Quebec’s SOPFEU—BC Wildfire know to put out a fire. At the same time, and should be treated. Draney insisted that
works with firefighters from other places, and crucially, because of a lack of money future fires could largely be prevented if his
who are able to parachute in when their own territorial patrol, and the patrols of other
regions are not experiencing overwhelming Indigenous communities, had sufficient
threats. A er the 2021 season, the provin- funds and the proper equipment to fight
cial government made BC Wildfire expand them. “If we were resourced properly,” he
its year-round operations. It also provided told the CBC last year, “there wouldn’t be
its biggest budget to date. Of $600 mil- 300 big fires in B.C.; there’d be 20, maybe
lion earmarked for climate-related disas- 30.” While no Skeetchestn structures were
ters, prevention and recovery, the agency ultimately harmed, much of the land sur-
received $453 million that would be spent rounding the community was burned,
on mitigation and risk-reduction, various damaging valuable hunting grounds and
preparedness initiatives, forest road main- watersheds for decades.
tenance and better public alert systems.
Anderson and Draney later proposed to
BC Wildfire that every rural band’s natural


resources centre be staffed with firekeepers criticism that I passed along was news to Whistler, Coquitlam, Belcarra and Slocan
and people who know the land, whom the him, especially a er last year, when a num- have developed community wildfire resiliency
agency could officially train to serve as an ber of people—Kamloops-South Thompson plans that incorporate a number of FireSmart
initial attack crew on fires. “Any fire, if you Liberal MLA Todd Stone, Thompson-Nicola mitigation principles and programs. Such
get on it right away, is not much of a fire,” Regional District chair Ken Gillis, every plans include figuring out a community’s
Anderson said. “If you’re there when the surviving Lyttonite—expressed their dis- best evacuation routes, clearing nearby forest
fire’s an acre, and you have the right equip- appointment and anger with the govern- fuel, hardening homes (i.e., ditching cedar
ment, it’s not much of an issue.” When I ment’s response. Meier acknowledged, hedges, installing fire-resistant siding, clean-
spoke to Anderson, he and Draney were still wearily, that the complaints—about the ing gutters of pine needles). Common-sense
waiting for their proposal to be taken up. poor communication, the insufficient stuff, really, but not top of mind when you
cooperation with Indigenous and local think of wildfires as a once-in-a-lifetime event
Communication and clarity seemed to communities—were things that the agency rather than something that’s now likely to
be a problem in general for BC Wildfire. A was working on and slowly getting better happen every few years at least.
number of people I spoke with were unclear at. “We’re using a year-round workforce
about why the agency set particular back to connect to those communities to do Other more challenging and expensive
burns—a controlled burn to direct the fire— cross-training,” he said. “We work together measures are starting to be implemented.
or why it wasn’t fighting fires at night, when so when it’s time to hit the ground run- Like including lessons on Indigenous fire
it was cooler. Most significantly, there was ning, we’re ready to go. Each year we make practices in the elementary school cur-
confusion about why firefighters were in incremental change and we’ll continue to riculum and spending more on mental
one place and not another, or why it took do that.” He talked about forging better health supports for burnt-out firefighters.
them so long to get to certain fires. relationships with First Nations leaders. Like updating the emergency alert system
Last summer, for example, through an to include extreme heat, fire and flood.
BC Wildfire’s general policy is to put out agreement with BC Wildfire, the Simpcw Like turning hockey arenas into fireproof
a fire wherever and whenever it starts, no First Nation established an Indigenous permanent evacuation centres.
matter how close it is to human development. initial attack team that will fight fires in
This is largely because in B.C., almost every Simpcw territory. “We’re committed to What people aren’t doing, usually, is
square foot of land is valuable—as timber, learning and changing,” Meier said. “In moving. I asked everyone I met in B.C.
as a pipeline route, for housing or high- some people’s eyes, we’re probably not who’d been affected by the fires if they’d
ways. Ontario, by contrast, has a policy of changing quick enough.” considered going somewhere else. Most
letting a fire take its course unless it direct- said no—this was their home, and besides,
ly threatens a community. The point, says IS ANYBODY CHANGING quickly enough? where would they go? In West Kelowna,
Mike Flannigan, is twofold: one, fire is nat- BC Wildfire was created as a response to some insurance companies now refuse to
ural and can o en be beneficial. Two, trying emergency. But wildfire is now a permanent insure new homes that are being built too
to always fight fire, especially now, is both emergency, an emergency that exceeds our close to fire zones. Even wealthy Vancouver,
counterproductive and a waste of resources. imagination. This is the story of our entire surrounded by Stanley Park and Grouse
Even with firefighters working all year and lurching response to the climate crisis, one Mountain, is susceptible to wildfire. Then
around the clock, there are just too many that’s been ad hoc, fragmentary, too-little- there are Indigenous communities whose
fires for them to keep up. “Canadian fire too-late. It’s not just B.C., and it’s not just people have lived in their territory for thou-
management agencies are among the best wildfire. It’s drought in the Prairies, floods sands of years. Having had their homes
in the world,” Flannigan told me. “They’re in Ontario, killer heat waves across Quebec. stolen at least twice—once by the Canadian
well-trained and professional. But they can’t government, and then by fire exacerbated
put out all the fires all the time.” You can’t hold climate change account- by that government’s policies—they remain
able. You can’t get mad at it, you can’t defiantly rooted.
In 2021, BC Wildfire couldn’t count on point a finger at it, you can’t sue it. It’s so
assistance from other jurisdictions because big, and so frightening, you can barely get During their evacuation, Marshall Potts
so many places were dealing with the same your mind around it. So, in the face of that and Jo-Anne Beharrell were allowed to come
problem (and the pandemic made travel helplessness, you take a hard look at the back every other day to check on their
challenging). Firefighters were completely human stuff, the fixable stuff. You make property and the animals they had to leave
overwhelmed, constantly endangered and sacrifices and changes. That doesn’t mean behind. These so-called wellness checks were
separated from their families for weeks on giving up, but it means giving up certain encouraging on one hand—firefighters fed
end. Ian Meier, the executive director of things and adding others. You don’t go to their cats, their house was still standing—
BC Wildfire, told me there were periods the beach when the smoke’s too bad. You but also, increasingly, depressing. Though
last summer with 80 new fires a day, and don’t let your kids ride their dirt bikes their house survived, their furniture and
it was just too much. “The system gets because an errant spark might ignite a fire. mattresses and clothes were all black with
overloaded,” he said. “There’s more fire soot. A sprinkler had shot up under their
than resources.” FireSmart is a national organization roof, and water had poured in through the
dedicated to reducing losses from wildfire. ceiling, wrecking the insulation. All their fen-
When I spoke with Meier in May, he All across B.C., communities as diverse as cing was destroyed, so other ranchers’ cattle
still sounded exhausted. He’s been with had wandered onto their land, devouring
the agency for 25 years, and none of the

30 AUGUST 2022

Mike Anderson runs Skeetchestn
Natural Resources Corporation. He
says BC Wildfire should offer its
training to Indigenous firekeepers.

ON THE GROUND their grass. They had lost one of their cats.
And, of course, all the beauty—one of the
BARBARA RODEN reasons that they had moved to the area to
begin with—was transformed. Half of the
MAYOR, Ashcroft trees on their property were gone, and the
EDITOR, Ashcroft–Cache Creek Journal view from their living room would now be
one of stump-strewn grass instead of wood-
“For the first 20 years that I lived in Ashcroft, we thought of fire season in very land. Other ranchers, they heard, had to put
down several dozen cows, some of which
general terms, if we thought about it at all. But in 2017, the Elephant Hill fire brought were burning alive, others half-dead from
smoke inhalation. One day, down by the
home the fact that you don’t have to live in or beside a forest to be affected by wild- creek where they had enjoyed that picnic
lunch the day the fire started, they found the
fire. Last season, there was a ring of fire rotting corpse of a cow. One of the cow’s
calves had made it up to their property,
around us. There was a lot of fear; two terrified, and when Potts tried to rope it, it
ran off and disappeared.
“LASTSEASON,THERE WAS weeks earlier, Lytton, an hour south of us,
ARING OF FIREAROUND US. had been burned to the ground. That hap- Ten months later, when I visited the
pened so fast, and it was fresh in people’s couple in their living room, they seemed
tired and demoralized. They were fighting
THERE WASALOTOF FEAR.TWO minds. And suddenly we had a fire right with the insurance company, which had
WEEKS EARLIER, LYTTON, AN at our doorstep. But we have a couple of misplaced their claim for several months.
lakes that serve as natural fire guards, It was difficult to get tradespeople and
materials up for repairs. A friend was
HOURSOUTH OF US, HAD BEEN and BC Wildfire was able to use roads as installing drywall—so much for the wood
BURNEDTOTHE GROUND.” additional guards. The fire moved to the walls they planned to build themselves.
northeast, where it ran into some grass- “I kind of wish it had all burned down,”
Beharrell said. “Because the cleanup and
lands and irrigated fields, which stopped the fix-up is harder than a rebuild.”

it. This year, there’s a lot of trepidation. Because of the lack of green trees, it’s
highly unlikely that their particular corner
You can feel very helpless. I live in a subdivision on the mesa above town. Until 2017, of the world will burn again. Or at least
not for a few decades, anyway. The couple
it had honestly never occurred to me that there was only one road in and out of that will, with time, adjust to the new land-
scape and eventually get new cattle that
subdivision. So we got funding for a study for egress roads and have identified a will have new land to graze on. They will
keep rebuilding, and add a new recording
couple of options. None of them are super fantastic, but one of them would do in an studio. They’re even considering hosting
a music festival on their property. “This
emergency. We’re talking about sending a CAT down there to scrape it out, and that was a bit of an ego punch,” Potts said of
the fire. “But you want to find something
still costs a lot of money. But it’s the insurance thing—you’re spending a lot of money good in the problem, in the chaos.”

to do something you hope you never have to use.” During their evacuation and the months
a er, Potts recorded an album titled The
Storm. It was inspired, naturally, by the
cataclysm of the previous summer. But
Potts, a surprising and resolute optimist,
didn’t want to dwell on the misery in his
lyrics. “When the wind comes it brings
change,” he sings on the title track. “And
only truth alone remains. ’Cause it reveals
your pain, that’s why the storm came.” He
realized that he had taken the beauty for
granted for so long, had always assumed
that it, and the land, and his home, would
be here forever, unchanged. Q

32 AUGUST 2022


New Jobs, Reduced Pollution,
and Improved Health: Are You Driving Electric?

Mediaplanet sat down with Daniel Breton, President and CEO at Electric Mobility Canada,
to discuss the challenges facing Canada’s EV industry and EMC’s EV Action Plan.

What challenges does Canada’s educate the public on the benefits of EVs government incentives cover some or
EV industry face, and how are we
working to tackle them? — not only on an individual level, but on most of the cost difference of acquisition. 

Supply chain: Needless to say, a vehicle, a global scale. The more informed the EVs positively impact climate
electric or not, is made up of a lot of
parts. The same goes for charging public is, the greater demand change:  GHG emissions are
infrastructure — different components
must come together to see the produc- will be for EVs. In addition much lower when driving
tion to its completion. Unfortunately,
the COVID-19 pandemic that took the to the need for better electric when charged
world by storm in 2020 decelerated
the supply chain, and in fact, almost consumer educa- with electricity from Daniel Breton
brought it to a halt. The electric vehicle President & CEO,
(EV) industry, like many others, is cur- tion, investments in renewable sources. Electric Mobility
rently playing catch up. Canada
job training — both Driving electric These GHG emis-
ZEV mandate:  Canada needs to private and public costs much less than sions are still lower Read the
adopt a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) — must be made to than gas-powered full interview at
mandate to ensure EVs are available prepare the labour gas (driving 100 vehicles even when
for all Canadians.  kilometres can cost

Education and training:  Players in as little as $2).
our industry are working furiously to
force for the influx of charged with electricity

new technologies. generated from fossil fuels.

Driving an EV is conven-

For drivers hesitant to make the ient:  With EVs, there are no more

switch, what are some of the key stops at the gas station — most char-

benefits of EVs? ging is done at home. Charging on the

EVs save money:  Driving electric costs road is also easy — public charging

muchlessthangas(driving100kilometres infrastructure is growing to meet the

can cost as little as $2). Additionally, needs of EV drivers across Canada.

Strategic Account Manager: Sierra Nardella Strategic Account Director: Jessica Golyatov Country Manager: Nina Theodorlis Content & Production Manager: Raymond Fan
Designer: Lauren Livingston Content & Web Editor: Karthik Talwar All images are from Getty Images unless otherwise credited. This section was created by Mediaplanet
and did not involve Maclean’s Magazine or its editorial departments. Send all inquiries to [email protected].


The Past, Present,
and Future of EVs:
An Adventure in Invention

The electric vehicle revolution began earlier than
you realize. It’s going further than you can imagine.
And at every step, Nissan has been present.

Frank Campagna


I t’s been twenty years since age. Off the assembly line at Nissan 30 minute charge over your lunch The engineering
electric vehicles (EVs) stormed rolls the Tama, a compact electric break will boost you up to an 80% lessons learned
onto the marketplace and into taxi and general-purpose auto- charge.” We’ve come a long way
the public zeitgeist in a big mobile with a 96km range and a since the Tama. on the track
way. However, it would be a mistake top speed of 35km/h. find their way
to imagine that these cars arrived What we imagine today, back into Nissan’s
on the scene in the early 2000s Flipping through the chapters we drive tomorrow research and
from nothing, wholly formed. that follow, the continual evolution development
Behind the scenes, the many tech- and refinement of this technology As researchers, drivers, and engin- centers where
nologies that go inside and under tells many stories, including the eers continue to push the envelope they inform
the hood of an EV had been in overwhelmingly successful 2010 of what is possible in venues like
active development for decades. launch of the Nissan LEAF, the Formula E, there is a slower non-stop
In the design centers of companies world’s first mass market EV. And revolution happening in terms innovation.
like Nissan, the spirit of discovery when the book falls open to 2022, of what is normal and expected.
that made the first generation of we find Nissan’s Formula E team Technologies like hands-off Explore the future of electric
EVs possible has only continued to speeding around the world’s pre- single-lane assisted driving and mobility at
accelerate in the years since. miere racetracks at speeds that adaptive all-wheel drive with
exceed 300 km/h. independent wheel braking have This article was
We’re in the middle of the gone from science fiction to daily sponsored by Nissan
story and the next chapter “The engineering lessons lived experiences in the seeming Canada.
is a thrilling one learned on the track find their way blink of an eye. With accelerating
back into Nissan’s research and developments in tech, flagship EV
Believe it or not, the first electric development centers where they offerings like the Nissan LEAF are
cars can be found all the way back inform non-stop innovation,” says getting roomier, smarter, and more
in the nineteenth century, pre- Ken Hearn, Marketing Director at advanced with every iteration. “On
dating even the earliest internal Nissan Canada. “From these learn- roads across the globe, over fifteen
combustion vehicles. However, if ings come the next generations of billion kilometres have been driven
we’re writing the history of modern EVs embodied in vehicles like the collectively by Nissan LEAF owners
EVs as we know them today, a good all-new all-electric Nissan ARIYA, since its debut,” says Hearn.
candidate for the first page of the our latest EV and first 100% electric
book is found in post-war Japan. crossover. One charge can take you There’s a lot of road left. Today’s
The year is 1947, and the country up to 490 km in the VENTURE+ EVs are fully-charged and ready to
is in the grip of an acute oil short- model. And if you are commuting take us off the edge of the page to
further than that in one day, a quick where new stories begin.


Going Green Is a Team Sport.
We Need to Support Ridesharing
Drivers to Go Electric

Uber Canada is moving toward its
ambitious zero-emission platform goal
through a series of smart collaborations
and incentives.

Laura Miller

A s the largest mobility platform in the world, we know our sustainability efforts have been focused
that our impact goes beyond our technology. We’ve on supporting drivers in making the switch
made a commitment to operate a zero-emission plat- from gas to EV. 
form globally by 2040 and in Canadian cities with
Going green is truly a team sport. Progress
supportive policies — like Montreal and Vancouver — by 2030.  toward a fully electric platform will only be
achieved where we band together across the
One of the ways we’re going to achieve this is by helping drivers ecosystem — government, industry, rideshar-
ing companies, and NGOs. Teaming up will
on the Uber platform go electric. In a recent survey of drivers in continue to be vital in delivering our common
goal of a cleaner, greener future.
Canada, we found that 71% are interested in switching to an electric
Visituber.comto learn more.
vehicle (EV). This is significant as we know that these drivers drive Laura Miller
Head of Policy &
more than the average person, meaning that each one who switches Communcations,
Uber Canada
to an EV has an outsized impact on putting green kilometres on our

streets. But we also know that it can be challenging for drivers to

make a big decision like transitioning to EV. That’s why so many of

Leading the Future of Kochhar and Johnston launched Li-Cycle, a lithium-ion battery
Transportation with Sustainable recycling company, in 2016. Since then, Li-Cycle has achieved a
EV Battery Recycling growing list of accomplishments, from its first mini-pilot in Canada
to the launch of its demonstration Spoke & Hub in Kingston, Ont.,
Li-Cycle’s innovative battery recycling process is transforming to upgrades that enable 5,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries to be
how we deal with electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries. recycled annually. Li-Cycle is now 300-plus people strong and has
expanded into the U.S. In 2023, Li-Cycle’s North American Hub will
Tania Amardeil be commissioned in Rochester, NY, with the capacity to recover
battery-grade materials from the equivalent of 90,000 tonnes of lith-
T oday, one technological shift is changing the future of ium-ion batteries and battery manufacturing scrap per year.
transportation – electric vehicles (EVs). This movement
towards clean, sustainable transport is leading auto- Game-changing technology
makers to quickly ramp
up EV production. The recycling is undertaken using Li-Cycle’s proprietary two-stage Spoke
& Hub Technology. “The Spokes are
As the world’s largest economies decentralized facilities where we mech-
continue to encourage electrification anically break down the batteries safely,”
and the mass adoption of lithium-ion says Kochhar. “The Hub is a chemical
batteries — which power EVs — it’s process wherein we take the intermediate
becoming increasingly imperative products from the Spokes and recover the
that our planet also has a sustainable individual battery-grade raw materials.”
solution in place to support recyc- The entire process involves minimal
ling at every stage of the lithium-ion wastewater production, no direct emis-
battery lifecycle. sions, and substantial net environmental
benefits via indirect greenhouse gas
That’s where Li-Cycle comes in.
Since its inception, Canadian com- PHOTO CREDIT: LI-CYCLE emissions reduction. Most importantly, it
pany, Li-Cycle, has created a sustainable and scalable solution to maintains zero waste diversion to landfills.
strengthen the EV battery supply chain by recovering up to 95% of all
materials, including battery-grade lithium, nickel and cobalt, found Li-Cycle’s processes are leading the way in ensuring that lith-
within spent lithium-ion batteries. ium-ion batteries are recycled in the most efficient and environmentally
responsible way, with the least amount of environmental impact.
Li-Cycle co-founders Ajay Kochhar and Tim Johnston met while
working at a global engineering firm. “We were constantly wondering Learn more about Li-Cycle at
what was going to happen to all these batteries being made when they
died,” says Kochhar. This article was sponsored by Li-Cycle.


The Tipping Point: How Electric Q&A with Kia Canada COO
Vehicles Became the Norm While Elias El-Achhab on the Canadian
We Weren’t Looking
EV Market
The argument for EVs has always been multifaceted: climate change,
gas prices, the appeal of new technology. But the newest argument is quite What concerns do Canadian
simple — they’re some of the most practical vehicles on the market. shoppers have about EVs?

D.F. McCourt When surveying Canadians, the biggest concerns
are still around range, charging infrastructure,
J ust a decade ago, the people That “shift” is the S in Kia’s global and lifestyle. It’s true that much of Canada is
shopping for electric vehicles Plan S strategy which, in the Canadian made up of dense urban centres with vast spaces
(EVs) were a select few — the market, includes a commitment to intro- in between them. If you live in the prairies and
keenest tech enthusiasts, the ducing seven all-new electrified models have a lot of driving distance, an EV is probably
fuel-price fatalists, and the profoundly by 2025. Through initiatives in green not the right model for you today, but we’re work-
eco-conscious. Since then, the world has manufacturing and partnerships like ing with governments and other entities to grow
become much more tech-forward, gas the Ocean Cleanup project, they’re also the infrastructure and change that. We’re also
prices are back above 2012 highs, and we working to elevate our understanding of working to expand and support the adoption of
have all, out of necessity, become very what sustainability means. electrified vehicles through a large network of
aware of our personal climate impacts. EV-certified dealers and our first-ever EV Edu-
But there’s more to it than that. Global players like Kia are all-in on cation Centre located in Vancouver.
the EV future. And even more Canadian
Today, more than one in ten new Can- drivers are pushing their chips into the Who would benefit most from
adian vehicle registrations are electric middle as well, not just because it’s the making the switch to an EV?
vehicles of some stripe. What was only right thing to do, but because it’s also the
recently a niche market is now a robust seg- sensible thing to do. If most or all of your driving is in and around a
ment with fully-developed offerings that city, then all-electric vehicles are the obvious
fit the needs and budgets of even Canada’s Visit choice, or a plug-in hybrid if you have to occa-
most pragmatic car buyers. EV buyers are to explore Kia Canada’s EV offerings and sionally travel somewhere further like Northern
truly embracing the future of transpor- sustainability commitment. Ontario. On a PHEV, you can have up to 51 kms
tation today, as the industry transitions This article was sponsored by Kia Canada. of all-electric range alone for driving around the
to more sustainable and environmental- city and then utilize the internal combustion
ly-minded people movement. engine (ICE) as backup for longer journeys.

A natural shift in thinking What style of EVs make sense
in the Canadian market?
“We’re at the tipping point right now,”
says Elias El-Achhab, Chief Operat- Canadians prefer SUVs and crossovers in ICE
ing Officer of Kia Canada. “People that models, so it’s natural to assume that’s what
are looking for more technologically they’re going to want in electrified models as well.
advanced models with slicker styling, As a part of our Plan S strategy, we’ve launched
more functionality, and the latest and several vehicles within this segment within the
greatest in advanced driver systems and last year including the Sorento PHEV, EV6 and
autonomous features are shifting to EVs upcoming Sportage PHEV later this summer.
Why should Canadians be looking
PHOTOS COURTESY OF KIA to Kia for their EV needs?

Number one is our proven experience. We’re
already in our third generation of electric vehicle
models and design, with a growing lineup that is
fitted directly toward the Canadian consumer.
We have models with all-wheel drive, with all
the convenience and safety features that we are
known for, packaged in striking design. And
our proven, real-world range is a crucial buying
point. We understand the Canadian market and
we’re committed to providing EVs that make
sense for Canadians.


"U ,JB

TROUB Maclean’s file photo

THE DAMAGE Joe Azouri dynamited into the Canadian Shield and
felled trees to make space for his luxurious cottage. Last summer, locals
launched a petition to revoke his building permit. He was later charged with
contravening the township’s tree conservation and site alteration bylaws.

38 AUGUST 2022





it was the type of warm spring day that had brought Roger in despair witnessing the wanton, selfish, ignorant destruction
Oatley to Muskoka for more than two decades: towering green of our slice of heaven.” “Seeing what these ignorant rich people
trees, fresh air, and boats with familiar faces welcoming every- are doing absolutely disgusts me to my soul.” “The owner of this
one back to Canada’s most coveted cottage country. property has now ruined not only their property but their repu-
tation as well—just leave Muskoka as soon as possible.” “This
En route to his summer home in May of 2021, Oatley, a semi-retired needs to stop. We are losing Muskoka.”
personal injury lawyer, drove his boat past Sugarloaf Island: 14
quiet acres filled with white pines, hemlocks and cedars. Only Azouri’s property became a tourist attraction in Lake Joseph.
this time he saw a huge gap of missing trees along the shoreline. Muskokans drove their boats by the property to survey the dam-
The opening revealed that a massive chunk of Canadian Shield— age. A few of them would stop and shout obscenities if they saw
the exposed Precambrian rock had been blasted to bits. Oatley people relaxing atop Azouri’s boathouse, though Azouri says he
thought it looked like a quarry right in the middle of Lake Joseph. didn’t hear anything of the sort.

His own cottage was on an island across from Sugarloaf, By this point, locals had submitted complaints to bylaw enforce-
so he boated past the construction zone each time he headed ment, who sent an officer to investigate and take photos. A stop-
toward the mainland. On one trip, Oatley docked his boat work order was issued on June 8, 2021. Azouri was charged with
at Stills Bay Landing and bumped into Joe Azouri, a success- contravening the township’s tree conservation and site altera-
ful Toronto real estate developer. Oatley knew that Azouri, a tion bylaws, matters that are still before the Provincial Offences
Muskoka newcomer, was responsible for the disruption on Court in nearby Bracebridge. Azouri says the charges surprised
Sugarloaf Island—he was building a massive cottage. Behind him, and that they were only laid a er the petition was circu-
Azouri that day, a sign read: “Quiet neighbourhood. Don’t lated and the media became involved. He does not believe he is
‘wake’ it up.” It was a brief conversation. Oatley told Azouri guilty of any offence.
that he’d destroyed the island. Azouri replied that the work
had been approved by the Township of Muskoka Lakes. The Oatley’s message to local politicians and future newcomers was
two haven’t crossed paths since. loud and clear. “This petition could be a model for controlling
private development in the future,” Oatley wrote on
Oatley launched a petition naming and shaming amid a groundswell of support. “Send it to every contractor,
Azouri, with a drone photo showcasing a huge gap where architect and interior designer you can think of so that they will
decades-old trees once stood tall. He called for Azouri’s building tell their clients going forward that the same thing will happen
permits to be revoked until the property was properly remediated. to them if they don’t obey the township’s bylaws.”

Oatley sent the link to 20 people. By the end of the day, the Money has always been synonymous with Muskoka: the
petition had 170 signatures. A day later, it had surpassed 500. By New York Times once dubbed it the “Malibu of the North.” If you
the 10th day, more than 2,000 people had signed on, and they can afford a place on Lake Joseph, your neighbours will include
weren’t shy to air their feelings in the comments: “I am living Cindy Crawford, Kevin O’Leary and Kenny G.

And for as long as there’s been money in Muskoka, there’s been
tension about how it should be spent. Newcomers want to build
bigger and better, while many long-time residents want control
over how the area is developed. The conflict goes as far back as the
early 1900s, when there were enough Pittsburgh business tycoons
building lavish cottages along one stretch of Lake Muskoka that they
dubbed the place “Little Pittsburgh.” Locals eventually adopted
a different term for the area: “Millionaire’s Row.” By 1993, the
average price for a house along the big three lakes—Lake Joseph,
Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau—was about $225,000. It hit the
$1-million mark around 2005, a time when realtors would joke
that all of Muskoka had become Millionaire’s Row.

Nowadays, a million dollars won’t cut it—at least not for good
property on the water. A small, basic, non-winterized cottage in
need of significant repairs might fetch a million, says Phil Harding,
the mayor of Muskoka Lakes, who also works in real estate. The
average property on the lake, he says, is probably worth some-
where between $3 million and $5 million.

For decades, the long-time residents—Old Muskokans, they’re
o en called—have condemned the changes that keep coming

40 AUGUST 2022

Oatley’s stately cottage is nestled on an island in Lake
Joseph, across from Sugarloaf. He boats by Azouri’s
construction zone on his way to and from the mainland.

When Roger Oatley
bumped into Joe
Azouri for the first time
on a dock last summer,
he told him he’d
destroyed Sugarloaf
Island. They haven’t
crossed paths since.

with each wave of wealthy newcomers. Clusters of boathouses embraced over the past century by the mostly well-off, mostly
blight views of the shoreline as seen from a canoe; noise from white sons and daughters of North America’s big eastern cities,
high-powered boats scare away fish and wildlife; trees are razed their families enriched by industrial boom times, their cottages
to build cottages that some Canadians would characterize as passed down through generations.
monster homes.
Now, soaring property values and property taxes have priced
In 1990, the Muskoka Lakes Association launched a 10-week, many long-time residents out of the area. Gone are the days when
$15,000 campaign dubbed “Take Back Your Lake,” with a prom- a moderately successful businessperson, lawyer or doctor could
ise to photograph those loud, careless boaters and shame them in buy in, says Peter Kelley, a Muskoka Lakes councillor. “That kind
a full-page newspaper ad. About a decade later, a group of locals of a career likely won’t fit the bill. It’s extraordinarily successful
came together to form the Muskoka Fair Tax Coalition in response entrepreneurs for the most part.”
to rising property taxes, which Muskokans blamed on the influx of
rich celebrities and athletes. In 2011, a group of cottagers founded The new residents tend to set a much larger footprint, Kelley
the non-profit Safe Quiet Lakes to educate locals on proper boating notes, building houses with more amenities and more ostenta-
etiquette, though it seems to have had little success: according to tious presentations. On Lake Joseph’s north end, there’s a stretch
their 2021 survey, the perceived amount of boat traffic, boat noise of shore with several cottages so lavish it has its own nickname:
and boat wake damage is much worse than it was five years ago. Billionaire’s Row.

On one level, these protesters are battling over a landscape that Joe Azouri didn’t know why he was suddenly being singled
defines Canadianness—loon cries, crystalline waters, Precambrian out. He had regularly rented cottages in the area for extended
rock, and wind-bent pines seemingly plucked from Group of Seven periods of time. His kids went to summer camps in Muskoka.
paintings. But the complaints are also underscored by class judg- When he acquired the five-bedroom, four-bathroom Sugarloaf
ment, born of growing tension between old money and new. The
pine-and-paddle iconography, a er all, is one constructed and


property in 2020 for $3.2 million, he thought the timing was rocks and trees: they wanted to see the water. So some owners,
perfect given the age and stage of his family. He immediately if they couldn’t take down the trees, instead simply cut off the
started planning a renovation of the existing 2,115-square-foot branches—sometimes 40 or 50 feet high in the air—until the trees
cottage, plus a 2,540-square-foot addition. The place would be end up looking like, as some locals call them, Muskoka palms.
big, but by no means the biggest out there. “It takes hundreds of years for these saplings to grow from the
crack of a rock to a 50-foot mature pine tree,” says David Pink,
He obtained a site plan agreement from the township for the director of development services and environmental sustain-
job, including provisions for the revitalization and revegetation ability for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. “And then it all
of the property a er the work was completed. He hired the best disappears in one weekend with a chainsaw.”
contractors he could find with experience around Muskoka. The
project required excavators and backhoes, so he had to build a As the township approves more development, its meagre corps
temporary access road for heavy machinery coming in by barge. of bylaw officers can’t get out and patrol sites before the damage
“The road took some twists and turns because of the pervasive is done. Pursuing penalties and charges is becoming part of the
rock and our commitment to alter the natural features of the township’s day-to-day process, but the current maximum fine
property, to a minimum,” Azouri says, via email. “The cottage for contravening the site alteration bylaw is only $10,000 for a
addition, the two septic systems and the road construction did first offence and $25,000 for subsequent convictions. “If you’re
require unavoidable tree cutting and interference with vegetation building a $15-million cottage, fines like this are a line item on the
and some blasting of rock. Again, the township was well aware budget,” says Kelley, who has owned a cottage on Lake Joseph for
of our plans as reflected in the detail of the site plan agreement 20 years and has been a councillor since 2018. “As a council, we
and the permits.” need to get creative and look at more consequential ways to stop
the behaviour.”
Azouri runs Amexon Development Corp., which bills itself as
one of Toronto’s largest suburban developers, owning and man- Azouri’s construction site is certainly bigger than some on
aging a portfolio of office, retail, hotel and residential properties. the lake. Unlike city construction zones, where boards obstruct
Business is good: the company recently unveiled plans for five the public’s view of a giant hole in the ground, Muskoka build-
condo buildings and a three-acre park near Toronto’s North York ing sites stand out—especially when they’re on a relatively small
General Hospital, to be called the Residences at Central Park. island with a handful of properties and no roads in a high-traffic
He’s kept a relatively low profile, aside from getting his picture boating area in the middle of Lake Joseph.
taken at high-profile charity events like the Wanderluxe Gala,
the Butterfly Ball and the Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival. The drone photo from the petition shows the worst
All of that changed when he added a Muskoka cottage to his of the damage—a huge expanse of trees missing in the middle of
personal portfolio. Sugarloaf—although the property to the south, belonging to a
mergers and acquisitions lawyer named Adam Givertz, also had
The story of Sugarloaf is by no means unique. From a number of trees taken down. His name did not appear in the
Azouri’s property, you can see Caniff Island, which has also had petition, but according to Mayor Harding, that property had
extensive development near the shoreline. A tour around Lake no approvals to do anything. Givertz, who declined interview
Joseph offers a showcase of homes so luxurious that calling them requests for this story, is also charged with allegedly contravening
cottages would be a misnomer. Coach houses. Tennis courts. the town’s bylaws, as are several companies who worked on
People riding Pelotons in their glass-walled boathouses. Some Sugarloaf. Those cases are still before the courts.
properties have pools built right next to a lake. Azouri says that
aerial photographs taken during the early stages of construction So among all the massive residential construction projects
of those properties would leave the same negative impression. in this part of cottage country, why did one wealthy Toronto
“In no way does the township discourage projects such as ours,” developer suddenly become the face of Muskoka overdevel-
he says. “In fact, their unstated policy would be to encourage it.” opment? As with most things real estate, it probably comes
down to location.
The construction industry is by far the biggest employer
in town. In Bracebridge, a quarter of the population works in Sugarloaf Island was so named because, from a distance,
that sector. In the District of Muskoka, the construction value it looks like a big lump of sugar. On its crest, one of the highest
for building permits in 2018 totalled $120,877,656. But what points along this stretch of Lake Joseph, Hugh Smith, a builder
drives the local economy can also come at the he y price of with many nearby cottage projects under his belt, had long
destroying the natural assets that make Muskoka so desirable dreamed of constructing an outbuilding for his future dream
in the first place. house. It would be a place where he could stare eastward as the
morning sun peeked through some of the very trees he and his
Politicians have made various attempts to protect the water- siblings planted nearly half a century ago.
front. Owners were once required to build their cottages at
least 35 feet from the water’s edge; today, properties must be at Smith was about 11 when he first visited Muskoka. His par-
least 66 feet back. This change had unintended consequences. ents rented a cottage on Lake Joseph’s Governors Island for two
People with waterfront property weren’t always keen to look at seasons in the early 1970s. He and his siblings would spend their
summers jumping into the lake or exploring the wilderness,

42 AUGUST 2022

Sugarloaf Island cottage
is nearly finished. He says
he’s confident locals will
support the work once
all the landscaping and
revegetation is completed.

Azouri runs a thriving real
estate development company
in Toronto, but he’s kept a
relatively low profile. That
changed when he bought a
property on Lake Joseph and

set about remaking it.


Hugh Smith’s property line, a
freshly built access road makes
its way up from the shore,
ferrying heavy machinery from
barges to the construction site

making friends with kids on neighbouring Hugh Smith is no longer sure
islands. The family loved it so much that
about his plans to build a cottage
the parents asked their kids if they should
buy a cottage. Smith told his dad it was the on Sugarloaf. “I’m on my own on an

thing he wanted most in this world. They island with people who don’t like me,”
purchased several acres of Sugarloaf Island

and built a cottage. “It wasn’t a status thing he says. “It’s a pretty bad prospect.”
back then,” Smith says. “It was basically

just two families on the island for quite a

long time.” Almost 50 years later, the ori-

ginal cottage has been sold, but a couple

of those acres are still in the family name, waiting for Smith to time to put the place up for sale. During their final summer on

build something for the next generation of his family. Sugarloaf, David was looking out the window when he spotted

Smith’s dad, who had a forestry degree, o en sent his five a barred owl only 50 yards away. He took out his camera and

children out to plant saplings around the island. Years later, snapped a photo—one of his last memories before it was time to

as he got into planning his estate, he subdivided the land into pack up and go. They’d found a buyer: Joe Azouri.

three properties. In the early 1990s, his children, by then adults, According to David, before the sale had even officially closed,

were spending less time at the cottage, and the other two lots half a dozen workers had scraped the side of the Shaws’ boathouse

were still vacant. So the family decided to sell one of them to to put on a different shade of paint. As for the main cottage, Azouri

Martha and David Shaw, who had been renting cottages in the soon had plans to make it bigger—much bigger. When David heard

area for many years. how many trees Azouri had cut down, he sent Oatley his picture

For the Shaws, being isolated on an island had a romantic qual- of the owl and asked wistfully, “Where has the barred owl gone?”

ity, so they set some ground rules for their development plans. Susan Eplett is vice-president of the Muskoka Lakes Association

Among them: no dynamite. “We wanted to maintain the vege- and co-founder of the Friends of Muskoka, a volunteer group that

tation and the trees,” David says. “Dynamite would destroy the formed in 2017 to oppose residential subdivisions at Muskoka

uniqueness of the island.” resorts. She argues that some cottagers are being disrespectful.

They needed to clear some trees—there was no avoiding that— “It’s all clear-cutting and blasting. It’s not a matter of saying

but they made sure their builder worked with the landscape to the owner, ‘Can you please fix it? Can you please stop?’ The

and spared the large white pines. And who better to construct a damage has been done.”

five-bedroom cottage and a two-storey boathouse, they figured, One of the group’s biggest actions was to combat a proposal

than their neighbour, Hugh Smith. that would build more than 4,000 units in Minett. Their effort

As the decades went by, the trees grew taller. The Shaws and led to an amendment that drastically cut the developer’s plans.

their children grew older, and fewer family members were able Now the group is lobbying to beef up bylaws and enforcement

to make it to the annual summer retreat. They decided it was tools to stop something like Sugarloaf from happening again.

44 AUGUST 2022

They’d like to see the Township of Muskoka Lakes bring in Roger Oatley arrived in Muskoka during the Victoria
meaningful penalties, substantially increase fines, and decline Day long weekend this past May, same as he does every year.
building permits to owners until their properties are properly He drove his boat by the Azouri cottage addition as it neared
remediated. “It’s dangerous to have this type of development completion and took a photo of a stripped tree on the shore-
set an example for what you’re allowed to do in Muskoka,” says line surrounded by piles of rubble and dirt. He posted it on the
Laurie Thomson, president of Friends of Muskoka. “Rather than petition website as an update: “As you can see, remediation has
building in the forest, they’re starting to take it down, which is a long way to go!”
not in keeping with the character of the area.”
He then voiced his support for several proposed amendments
The definition of Muskoka’s character, however, depends on to Muskoka Lakes’ 200-plus-page official plan, which would
who you ask—and it’s always changing. Some come for solitude, strengthen tree conservation and site alteration bylaws. Another
others for a revolving back door of friends and neighbours. amendment would increase the maximum initial fine tenfold,
Muskoka is about the natural landscape and the stillness of the from $10,000 to $100,000. He says it’s a direct response to what
water, but it’s also about jet-skis and wakeboarding. It’s about the happened on Sugarloaf.
largest collection of vintage motor boats in North America, but
it’s also about the size of the boats cruising by, getting bigger each Some of the proposed amendments have already met resist-
passing year. It’s about cottages that recede into the woods and ance from Our Muskoka, a new group founded by local realtors
blend in with nature, but it’s also about luxury vacation homes. and builders whose stated objective is “to ensure that all per-
spectives are represented and that there is a balanced approach
Back on Sugarloaf this past spring, Hugh Smith knelt to managing development.” Jason Sifft, a Muskoka-born-and-
down to take pictures of the 100-metre property line he shares raised businessperson and one of the group’s co-founders, says
with Azouri. Last summer, he says, a wall of blasted rock and that the organization’s main goal is to make sure that locals are
chopped-down trees infringed on his vacant lot. This year, huge aware of the proposed changes. “Regulation has never been our
amounts of earth were dumped at the border. Azouri denies that issue here. Enforcement of those regulations is a major issue—but
debris crossed the property line. He says he immediately cleaned more important is education,” he says. “As a township, we can’t
up the debris to address Smith’s concerns, and that Smith has keep creating new rules and saying ‘no’ to them or it creates a
not made any further complaint. Wild West where people just do what they want. We need to
modernize our bylaws to find the balance.”
Smith compares Azouri’s development to what happens when
you drive too fast on the highway. If you’re caught speeding, The Township of Muskoka Lakes’ planning committee reviewed
you’ll get a ticket with a he y fine. But if you’re caught driving the official plan in mid-June and recommended it to council. There
egregiously over the speed limit, the car will be impounded and are more reviews to come, which will include an open house and an
you’ll be stuck on the highway waiting for a taxi home. He won- opportunity for public input. If all goes according to plan, council
ders how to apply that to Muskoka development: “How do you will be voting on it as early as next year.
impound a cottage?”
As for Sugarloaf Island, judicial pre-trials for the cases of Azouri,
Hugh Smith and Joe Azouri have never spoken to each other, Givertz and several companies that worked on their sites are
but Smith sees their relationship as so fraught that he’s considering now set for November of 2022—a slow process made even longer
putting up an eight-foot chain-link fence around his property to because of the number of parties named, and because the Crown
keep his dogs off Azouri’s land, a thought he quickly admits is prosecutor is asking to have all the cases heard at once.
absurd. A er all, this is an island in Muskoka.
If there is to be a legal resolution to the matter of the island that
Smith says he’s no longer sure about his plans to build a divided Muskoka, it will come very slowly. And it doesn’t seem to
place on Sugarloaf in the family name. “I’m on my own on an be nearing an early resolution in the court of public opinion, either.
island with people who don’t like me,” he says. “It’s a pretty “I predict the Azouri family will be shunned by the community
bad prospect.” (Azouri says that he’s never met Smith and because of what they’ve done,” Oatley says. “Whether they will
knows nothing about him.) care or not, I have no idea.”

He also recognizes the hypocrisy in complaining about Azouri counters that their revegetation process is already
development next door when he’s had a successful career building in full swing, as was always the plan. “We are confident that
cottages and boathouses in Muskoka, including for many celebri- those who rush to condemn what we have done and what we
ties. He’s taken down trees and put dynamite to rock. He points are doing will ultimately be supportive of the work we have
out a small section of his own land that he blasted to make way done and the responsible way we have conducted ourselves
for his planned cottage. He talks extensively about what he feels is throughout, once all the landscaping, revegetation and tree
the proper way to do it. Among his rules: preserve as many trees planting are complete.”
as possible, work with the natural landscape before blasting and
don’t mess with the shoreline. “I’m a lover of Muskoka. This is Muskokans old and new will have no shortage of opportunities
my property,” he says. “But at the same time, I’m a builder. Am to see Azouri from the water for years to come. He was allowed to
I really going to be heard?” continue work on his cottage because he had a building permit,
and the work appears to be nearing completion. He says his family
now considers Sugarloaf Island to be home. Q


Len and Cub embracing after a swim
Circa 1916 to 1918
Len Keith, left, was born in 1891 in the village of
Havelock, New Brunswick, then known as Butter-
nut Ridge. His parents, Hilyard and Agnes Keith,
would go on to own the local mercantile; the
county newspaper referred to them as “Havelock’s
elite.” Cub Coates, born in 1899, was the son of a
farmer and loved horses from a young age. The
boys grew up together, and at some point during
their youth developed an intimate relationship.

Len Keith and Cub Coates fell for each other in early 20th-century
New Brunswick, at a time and place where queer relationships were
taboo.Their storywas almost lost forever—until a collection of tender

photographs brought their romance into the light.


Photos courtesy of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and Goose Lane Editions

46 AUGUST 2022


Cub and Len at Cranberry Lake Camp
Near Havelock, New Brunswick, circa 1916
The boys began appearing in photos together
in 1915, after Len returned from a stint at Tilton
School in New Hampshire. This period shows the
boys at their most affectionate—holding hands,
in states of undress, adventuring in the wilds
surrounding Havelock and spending time at the
Keith family properties. Their regular hunting
and fishing trips doubled as secret rendezvous
for the couple.

Alot of queer people think 2SLGBTQ+ I had 15 albums, a few thousand loose photos and a few dozen
history is limited to metropolitan areas glass negatives. I began poring over them, searching for Len and
like New York or San Francisco, Toronto Cub. I found photos of the men embracing in the wilds of New
or Montreal. I came of age in rural New Brunswick, Cub with his hand curled around Len’s inner thigh,
Brunswick, where my lack of exposure to and the pair of them shirtless, sitting in each other’s laps with their
anything queer—especially queer history— pants undone, hands clasped, making eye contact with the cam-
led me to believe that those stories weren’t era. These photos brought me to tears. They transcended time
there. I’ve since learned how naive that and showed me a love like mine, shared by people like me, in the

notion is, and that queer history exists, place where I lived, one hundred years ago. I saw myself in Len

in some form or another, in every community across Canada. and Cub. It was an incredibly validating and exciting discovery

Growing up, I never saw myself represented in my surround- for a young queer person like me. The photos were a testament

ings. All I heard about gay people was that they were sissies, freaks, to the o en-touted phrase in queer circles: “We have always been

diseased, predatory. The last thing I wanted was to be queer. And here.” This time, “here” was the tiny, rural village of Havelock.

yet I couldn’t hide it. I developed a deep-rooted self-hatred and I became enamoured with the collection. In 2015, I founded

internalized homophobia that took years to shake off. Even a er the Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick, or QHINB, a

coming out at age 16, I was still alone. I didn’t know it at the time, community archive that began as a cardboard box in my home

but this lack of representation office and is now a permanent

created a void in my identity. collection at the provincial ar-

Enduring homophobia without I pored over 15 albums chives. Three years later I met
seeing queer love is an incred- Meredith J. Batt, a young queer

ibly isolating experience. and thousands of loose archivist recently hired at the
In 2014, I was attending the provincial archives, who is now

New Brunswick College of Cra photographs, searching the president of QHINB. The
and Design and completing a two of us were spurred on by

summer internship at the Prov- for Len and Cub our mentor, John Leroux, man-
incial Archives of New Bruns- ager of collections and exhib-

wick. A colleague who knew itions at the Beaverbrook Art

about my interest in queer his- Gallery, who encouraged us to

tory introduced me to some photos donated by John Corey, an meet with Goose Lane Editions about developing a manuscript

artist, community historian and general collector of things. His that would explore the lives of Len and Cub, and how their rela-

donation included a number of photo albums that had belonged tionship unfolded in the time and place that it did. This is when

to Leonard Olive Keith, an amateur photographer, entrepreneur the real research for our book Len & Cub: A Queer History began.

and veteran of the First World War, affectionately known as “Len.” Meredith and I worked through the pandemic, meticulously

He’d grown up in my hometown of Havelock, New Brunswick. viewing and reviewing the photos, looking for traces of the boys

Impossible to ignore among the hundreds of photos was the pres- in Canadian census records, war records and local newspapers.

ence of Joseph Austin “Cub” Coates. Corey, whose father was a We pieced together their lives: their travels, employment, mil-

friend of Len’s, noted during the donation process that Len and itary service, personalities. We also spent a lot of time research-

Cub were “boyfriends.” ing cultural shi s and attitudes around sex, gender and same-sex

48 AUGUST 2022


experiences during the first half of the 20th century. To simply call Len and Cub are
Len and Cub “gay” and move on with it ignores a mountain of a testament to the
nuance around how they would have understood their relation- often-touted phrase
ship. What is undeniable is that their love, however they would “We have always
have described it, is beautiful to see, and that we’re all lucky that been here.” This
these photos have survived as long as they have. time, “here” was the
tiny, rural village
Now, more than ever, New Brunswick is ready to have conversa-
tions about the place of queer people in this province, our history, of Havelock.
our lived realities and our future. Since the launch of our book this
year, Meredith and I have received messages from folks across the
country, queer and straight alike, who are taking heart in the boys’
story and in how they too can see themselves in Len and Cub. I’m
proud that this little queer love story from rural New Brunswick
has spread as far as it has, and that people find comfort in Len and
Cub’s photos. They remind us all that same-sex love has always
been a part of our country, that queer people have always existed
and that we belong wherever we choose to call home. Q

50 AUGUST 2022

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