BOOK REVIEW: The Wild Coast of Canada

By Marianne Scott

The Wild Coast of Canada

By Scott Forsyth, Rocky Mountain Books, 2019, $60


I’ve always thought that Canada’s motto, a mari usque ad mare, from sea to sea, should be extended. It only focuses on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, ignoring our third ocean, the Arctic. How about “tria intra maria?” (“Within three seas”).

Fortunately, Calgary-based physician Scott Forsyth has covered all three oceans in his impressive photographic journey in The Wild Coasts of Canada. Wandering in the woods as a child in Ontario, he was fascinated by all that nature had to offer. He credits his grandmother, artist Evelyn Bracken-Brown, with stimulating his interest in seeing art in the natural landscape. Dalhousie University opened a new world to him; he then spent two years in Japan, studying drawing and calligraphy. But he also began taking photographs. And that’s the art he’s embraced and won awards for. It took six years to take and curate the images in this dazzling book. Many of his shots were taken during voyages as staff photographer aboard Victoria-based Maple Leaf Adventures and Toronto-based Adventure Canada.

The first section takes us to Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest. Forsyth describes the uniqueness of the islands and their waterways, the enormous trees and the rich intertidal zones. He then documents his text with outstanding photos—landscapes, seascapes, cloudscapes. Through them, we can vicariously experience the rich life, light, reflections, colours and tranquility. Each image is accompanied by a description of its location, geology and history.


Forsyth has seized the emptiness and glory of the Arctic, its ice, seascapes, villages and peoples in the next series of photos. The Atlantic coast follows with similar luminous images, along with eloquent captions. The Labrador fjords, its abandoned villages, its rough landscapes, and the grandeur of Newfoundland conclude this outstanding photo book. Their texture and the spirit they convey make me want to see these places myself.

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