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Author and naturalist Jack Nisbet explores West Kootenay

The Douglas fir is one of the most recognizable and common trees in the Pacific Northwest, but do you know who it’s named after? Spokane-based naturalist and author, Jack Nisbet, does!

Selkirk College Library, the Schools of University Arts and Sciences and Renewable Resources and Touchstones Nelson - Museum of Art and History are proud to present writer, historian, teacher and naturalist Jack Nisbet. Nisbet will be visiting the area to talk about his newest book, The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest.

The book follows the journeys of David Douglas, an influential botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest. His discoveries included a wide variety of western plants--most notably, the Douglas fir--which were then introduced into English and European markets.

Audiences of the West Kootenay can look forward to a slideshow presentation entitled “David Douglas on the 49th Parallel” that focuses on the landscape that Douglas saw during his time in the Interior. The show will also concentrate on the people of the Interior who showed him how the landscape worked.

“Many of Douglas’ routes are the same routes pioneered by David Thompson, the subject of my previous biography, so I’d been visiting these areas for years,” says Nisbet. “The real adventure for me was going to these sites in the same week during the year that Douglas had visited them. I’d often be astonished by how much that he found was still there.”

Douglas was the first European visitor (Scots-born) whose sole job was to investigate the natural history of the Northwest. He travelled throughout the region - racking up 7,032 miles by foot, boat and horse - collecting 650 species in the Pacific Northwest alone that were catalogued and sent back to England.

Jack Nisbet is the author of several works that explore the human landscape of the Intermountain West, including Purple Flat Top, Singing Grass Burning Sage and Visible Bones, as well as two books about fur agent and cartographer David Thompson: Sources of the River and The Mapmaker’s Eye.

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association named his most recent project, The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest, as one of its 2010 Books of the Year. 

The slideshow presentations take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 26, at Touchstones Nelson - Museum of Art and History and at 12 p.m. on Thursday, January 27, in room Sen. 113 at Selkirk College’s Castlegar campus.

Admission is free! Visit for more information.