On the Edge of Wilderness: Tales from Hazelton and the Kispiox Valley

Former teacher and resident shares some stories of his time in northern B.C.

On the Edge of Wilderness book cover.

A former teacher and resident of the Kispiox Valley has penned some of his stories from his time in the area in a new book.

Doug MacLeod’s On the Edge of Wilderness: Tales from Hazelton and the Kispiox Valley is a collection of some of his favourite memories.

He moved to the valley from Vancouver with his wife, Mariette in 1976, calling the north a compelling country.

“We went two years earlier on a teacher’s practicum and we just loved it,” he said. “It is so beautiful and such a call for adventure. My wife and I both grew up in Vancouver so it just represented such an experience, including a cultural experience we couldn’t resist so up we went.”

The book is composed of a series of stories.

“They are standalone stories, but form into a story of when we arrived, there was some challenges of teaching and just becoming part of the community and there are all sorts of stories about building a log house, drilling for water and catching steelheads,” he said. “These were stories that I told to people down here over the years and I still fish so bouncing around fishing holes and telling my fishing buddies a story from up there.”

After retirement he started taking some night school courses at UBC and then he put the stories down on paper and turned them into the book.

“The experience was satisfying and I enjoy writing so I’m pleased to have the opportunity,” he said.

He is hoping people who don’t live in the area can experience the lifestyle, the people, the country, the activities, and the spirit of the Kispiox Valley from reading his book.

“For people down here in Vancouver, the Hazeltons and Kispiox Valley is a very exotic location and it is so different than what they are used to,” he said.

“For people up there, I would hope that they would see something of themselves in these stories, that there would be an overlap with the life that they live. If you’ve got horses, I’ve stories on horses, if you are fishermen, I’ve got fishing stories, if you like canoeing or hiking I’ve got stories about those as well. I would hope [after reading the book] that they would say ‘I identify with this’ and maybe they re-experience their own experiences a little.”

He says he misses living up in the north and the decision to move back to Vancouver in 1987 was made for him. After suffering a serious hearing loss, they moved back down and he retrained as a teacher of the deaf and started a new career.

He added both sets of their parents were getting old and they felt they had to be close to them.

“My wife still pines for the Kispiox Valley sometimes and we have friends still living up there that we keep in touch with.”

MacLeod will be coming back up on October 25 for a book reading at the Hazelton District Public Library.

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Author of On the Edge of Wilderness Doug MacLeod. (Contributed photo)

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