The Golden Spruce

golden spruce cover image The Golden Spruce

by John Valliant
Reflections on Nature
WW Norton & Co.
Paperback, 288 pages
$16.95

It was known as K’iid K’iyass (Old Tree) by the Haida people of the Queen Charlotte Islands that lie sixty miles off the northern coast of British Columbia. It was sacred to them and was an eco-tourism boon to the local populace of Port Clements. It was over 300-years-old, had brilliant gold needles and a perfectly coniform shape. Through a random mutation the tree lacked 80% of the Sitka Spruce’s normal chlorophyll and lacked the typical haphazard branching. It stood like a gold jewel against the deep green of the virgin coastal forest on the bank of the Yakoun River. There was none other like it in the world. In 1997 a deranged former logger and arriviste eco-activist took a chainsaw to it and left it lying in the river. This book tells the story and tells it very well indeed.