Chapter 18

Up at 5 a.m. as usual.

Okanagan Honeymoon 1936

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat

Icteria virens collected by Cowan, Penticton, 1936 held by Royal BC Museum. Photograph by Michael Wall. Image Cowan_PH_426 courtesy of University of Victoria Special Collections.
Ian and Joyce McTaggart Cowan Camping

Ian and Joyce McTaggart Cowan Camping

With Provincial Museum truck 1936. Image Cowan_PP_193 courtesy of University of Victoria Special Collections.
Anarchist Mountain, BC

Anarchist Mountain, BC

July 1931. Image Cowan_PP_352 courtesy of University of Victoria Special Collections.
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Now in possession of the panelled, light delivery Dodge laundry truck converted into an expedition vehicle, the newlyweds planned a full summer honeymoon expedition in the interior, starting in the Okanagan grasslands. They drove up via Merritt and Princeton to Anarchist Mountain, near Osoyoos, as their first stop. Anarchist rises 1,500 metres out of the pocket desert that straddles the US border and was a favourite birding site of local naturalists such as Allan Brooks, whom they had visited in the summer of 1931. At Anarchist they camped for four days in the shade and orange scent of Ponderosa Pine at 17 Mile Creek. Water is a natural draw for birds and mammals in dry landscapes and Joyce and Ian observed and collected ample specimens of both. At dawn the breeding Red Crossbills and ill-named Evening Grosbeaks would sing them awake with their high kip kip or burry chipping calls as they came in to drink.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 1952, Cowan spoke about his love of the early morning. “It is the liveliest period of the day; the birds are all in song. Chipmunks and squirrels are swearing in the pine trees. Even the trout put on a show in the early morning.”47 Vancouver Sun reporter E.G. Perrault described Cowan as a

…conductor in the midst of a symphony of bird calls and animal sounds. When a new note rings out he is alert immediately. This is discord that brings joy to his heart. It may be a new species of bird or a mammal ranging far out of its usual environment. On more than one occasion his sharp ears and expert stalking tactics have rewarded him with a “first” – the naturalist’s brief term for a major discovery.48


47 E.G. Perrault. “His Wild Life Brought Him Honours,” Vancouver Sun Magazine, June 28, 1952, 15.

48 Perrault. “His Wild Life Brought Him Honours,” 15.

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