A naturalist, teacher, and guide shares his appreciation for his home province in this debut collection of gorgeous photographs and watercolors.
This book offers everything you ever wanted to know about the flora and fauna of British Columbia but didn’t know enough to ask. Townsley was born in Vancouver, and when he was 7 years old, his father gave him a camera. His lovely book is a collection gathered from a lifetime of taking nature photographs, punctuated by the occasional watercolor (he’s a painter as well). Roaming through a half dozen geographical regions, he takes readers from British Columbia’s jaw-dropping rocky shores to its breathtaking mountains, with stops in between to gaze at whatever catches his eye. A lot does: an unexpected rainbow, a pussy willow in close-up, and the frostbit Lillooet River, which is like something out of a perfectly realized winter wonderland. Many of his images are so stunning one can only recommend viewing them, in its e-book format, on the largest screen available. In his introduction, Townsley says, “another comment I get on occasion is, ‘You must have a really good camera.’ I laugh and relate an analogy I heard years ago whereby someone really admired the work of a writer and stated, ‘You must have a really good typewriter.’ ” He is a fine photographer, but as a writer, his chapter introductions are little more than serviceable and sometimes borderline drab; his description of Victoria, for example, sounds like something straight from a tourist guide: “Known as the City of Gardens, Victoria is an attractive city and a popular tourist destination with a thriving technology sector.” And yet, once one realizes where Townsley’s true genius lies, one may come to enjoy the random factoids scattered among the photo captions. For example, he tips readers as to what’s edible and what’s not—Sagebrush buttercup, no; Crowberry, yes. The singularity of whatever he decides to point out becomes captivating in itself; for example, he notes that a raven is considered about as smart as most 7-year-old humans, and that harbor seals detect their prey by using nerves in their whiskers. Nature lovers will find much here to enjoy, as will Canada-philes.
A perfect gift for a friend with a mountain cabin and a coffee table.