Backgrounder Article from  Parks Canada

Roderick Langmere Haig-Brown (1908-1976)

Roderick Langmere Haig-Brown was a prolific author and ardent conservationist. His many publications on outdoor life, including fishing, convey the complex interdependent relationship between humanity and nature. His works eloquently describe the British Columbia wilderness, bringing it to national and international audiences with evocative descriptions and a lyric, unassuming style. They continue to hold broad appeal today. Haig-Brown was also an early, active, and vocal conservationist. In the mid-20th century when British Columbia was undergoing rapid industrial development into its resource hinterland, Haig-Brown was a leader in the protection of nature and community.

Haig-Brown was born in 1908 in England, where at a young age he learned to hunt and fish. In 1926, the youthful Haig-Brown decided to take a few years to see the world and travelled to the United States where he had family connections in Seattle. His first job was with the Wood-English Logging Company, where he worked first as a log scaler and then a surveyor.

In 1927, he moved north to Vancouver Island where he lived and logged, trapped, fished and guided in the woods around the Nimpkish River. Here, he began to focus on becoming a writer. After two years he returned to England, where he wrote the children’s book Silver: The Life of an Atlantic Salmon (1931), but in late 1931, Haig-Brown came to the realization that he belonged in British Columbia, and returned to Vancouver Island. He and his wife Ann and their four children lived near Campbell River on Vancouver Island at a home called “Above Tide”. For the rest of his life, Haig-Brown made a living there by writing fiction and non-fiction for children and adults.

Haig-Brown’s best writing is considered to be in the genre of non-fiction. Between 1946 and 1964, he wrote the fishing books for which he is arguably best known today, including A River Never Sleeps (1946), Fisherman’s Spring (1951), Fisherman’s Winter (1954), Fisherman’s Summer (1959) and Fisherman’s Fall (1964). His writings found an audience beyond sport enthusiasts, making him arguably the province’s best known writer in the 1950s and 1960s.

His interest in the natural world and humanity’s place in it expanded beyond his writing as he took an active role in the public sphere as a conservationist. He served on many councils and organizations, participated in resource conferences at the national level, and did numerous speaking engagements on the subject of conservation and resource use. Haig-Brown died at his home on October 9, 1976.

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