In Crossing The Divide Wayne Sawchuk takes us from his early days as a logger and trapper to his role in creating the largest protected wilderness area in the Rocky Mountains. Sawchuk grew up near Chetwynd in the province’s northeast, working with his father in resource industries. Then in 1985, he helped his uncle build a trapper’s cabin at Mayfield Lake in the Northern Rockies and eventually bought the trapline. Through the 1990s he began taking extended horse packing trips into the area while helping shape the future of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, 6.5 million hectares of land where intact ecosystems co-exist with carefully regulated resource extraction. “It is,” says Sawchuk, “an incredible experiment where we can maintain a sustainable economy and keep the wild heart of Canada’s Northern Rockies beating strong forever.”
Wayne Sawchuk moved with this family from Saskatchewan to homestead in the Chetwynd area of the province’s northeast when he was a year old. As soon as he was able, maybe sooner, he went to work with his dad falling trees for reservoirs and power line corridors in the Kootenays, the Fraser Canyon and the Telkwa Pass, but always with an eye to and a longing for the surrounding wilderness. In the late 1980s, Wayne bought his uncle’s trapline on the Gataga River in the Northern Rockies. It was a decision, he said, that meant a “drop in his standard of living but a corresponding increase in his quality of life.” His love of the mountains evolved into a passionate campaign to preserve landscapes similar to those he once logged.
Over the next decade he led extended horse packing trips into the mountains to promote the special nature of the area. And between 1992 and 2000, he served on four consensus planning tables, working to build a conservation framework for BC’s Northern Rockies that would respect ecosystem integrity while allowing for carefully planned resource extraction. One result of his work, and that of'several like-minded individuals, is the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-KMA), a 6.5-million-hectare chunk of wilderness containing fifty undeveloped watersheds. The recipient of a national environmental award, Wayne is the author/photographer of Muskwa-Kechika, the Wild Heart of the North, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a Fellow International of the Explorers Club of New York. When he is not leading expeditions into the M-KMA, Wayne lives in Rolla, just north of Dawson Creek, with his wife, writer Donna Kane, and a couple of dozen pack and saddlehorses.
From John Vaillant, award winning author of The Golden Spruce, The Tiger, and Jaguar's Children
The people, places and animals in this memoir of life, death, and transformation in the wilderness of northern BC sound as if they’re from another century. And another country: the Northern Rockies are a world apart and Sawchuk brings them to life with an affection and detail that can only be achieved through a lifetime of careful, open-hearted, open-minded observation. After reading this book, you’ll want to see them for yourself.