Three Against the Wilderness

How beavers made the ‘wilderness’ bloom

Image: © Photawa |

The Colliers rebuilt the ruined dams of beavers which had been hunted to extinction, bringing water back to the marshes and lakes of the Meldrum Creek catchment. Muskrats, owls, deer, moose, geese and ducks returned to what had been a parched landscape vulnerable to forest fires. Then, finally, the Colliers brought back the beavers – an achievement recognised at the time by the British Columbia Game Department.

One of the most striking of Collier’s discoveries was that a healthy natural environment depended on the active participation of a wild animal – in this case the beaver. It was the beaver dams – and the water they retained – which had made the area so rich and diverse; it was the extinction of the beaver which led directly to the degradation of the natural environment as man (having destroyed the dam builder) demolished the dams in a self-defeating search for water.

As a boy, Veasy Collier faced the harsh Canadian winters with his parents, Eric and Lillian. He learned to hunt with his father and helped rebuild the old beaver dams which were the foundations of ecological regeneration.

Veasy Collier talked about why his father rebuilt the dams.
[Click on the ‘play’ arrow to hear the interview clip below.]

Video: British Columbia Forest Service


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