Chapter 13

Scenes from that summer guide my hand.

Chilcotin 1931

Preparing Specimens at Chezacut Lake

Preparing Specimens at Chezacut Lake

Alan and Kenneth Racey and Cowan preparing specimens at Chezacut Lake, 1931. Image Cowan_PP_008 courtesy of University of Victoria Special Collections.
American White Pelican

American White Pelican

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, Stum Lake, BC, 1950. Photograph by Cowan. Image Cowan_PH_229 courtesy of University of Victoria Special Collections.
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Each afternoon, Cowan laid his traps in the north-facing spruce forest, the south-facing grasslands or the low-lying marshes, returning at dawn to check them. A frequent journal entry was “Joyce + I went over to the spruce woods before breakfast...” 37 While laying the traps, they searched for other signs of wildlife. Some of the highlights Cowan noted were finding two grebe nests, one of a Red-necked (then called Holboell’s Grebe) and one of a Pied-billed. “On the way back we found a grebe’s nest of some sort, built of water lily leaves + about 2 ft. in [diameter] contained 6 eggs. The bird had covered these when she left the nest.” 38

During the hottest part of the day, in the shade of their bush lab, they skinned. In the evenings, Cowan fished for trout with Eileen and Joyce – a tradition well-established since Alta Lake. There is more detail of pelican courtship than human courtship recorded from those extensive paddles round the lake, but this was the summer and location that they got engaged.


37 Cowan, “Notes Tofino, Alberni, Chezacut 1931,” August 4, 1931. Cowan_FN_010.

38 Cowan, “Notes Tofino, Alberni, Chezacut 1931,” August 8, 1931, Cowan_FN_010.

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