Today is the 173rd birthday of John Muir. Muir was the co-founder and first president of the Sierra Club and a steadfast advocate for the protection of wilderness. His essays and books, penned late in life after years of exploration, exposed millions to the wonders of the untrammeled outdoors. His legacy lives on in the millions of acres of American wilderness that has been protected from the saw, the plough, the bulldozer and the drilling rig.
Although Canadians have not embraced Muir’s penchant for protecting wilderness the way Americans have, Canada did play a role in his education and evolution. In 1863, John’s brother Dan fled to Canada to avoid being drafted into the horrors of the American Civil War. A year later, John followed his brother to Canada, spending the spring, summer, and fall wandering the woods and swamps around Lake Huron collecting plants. With his money running out and winter coming, he met up with his brother in Meaford, Ontario, where the two worked at the Trout Hollow Sawmill until the summer of 1865. American wilderness scholar Roderick Nash described Muir’s travels in Canada as sojourns into wilderness to avoid mili... Read more