Book explores history of Bowker Creek

Readers corner highlights work of Saanich author Barbara Julian

Saanich author Barbara Julian has recently released Walking Bowker: Befriending an Urban Creek.

Saanich author Barbara Julian has recently released Walking Bowker: Befriending an Urban Creek.

Born of an ice age, the eight-kilometre creek called Bowker was created by the withdrawal of glaciers, and is threatened by the advance of urbanization. Today it flows for over half its length underground. Neither deep nor wide, it has nevertheless had an enduring effect on atmosphere, landscape, wildlife and the people who have lived near it.

Throughout the seasons, Barbara Julian walked Bowker Creek from its emergence on the UVIC campus to its sparkling bird-filled estuary across from the Oak Bay Marina, keeping an illustrated journal now published as Walking Bowker: Befriending an Urban Creek. The book explores the history, ecology and esthetics of the creek, and its diminished yet persistent role in the present.

Bowker once passed through a wild, then an agricultural and finally an urbanized landscape. Its long-lost elk, salmon and giant evergreens, its bordering dairy herds and sloping hay fields can now only be visualized in imagination. Birds and wildlife still rely on Bowker’s hidden reaches and its picturesque estuary for habitat. A few camping homeless humans too hide along its friendly banks. These are folks who know the creek and whom Julian greets as the ‘Green Men.’

“Bowker has lost its wet hinterlands, companion plants, debris-filtering rooty soil, fallen-branch dams, salmon pools, pauses and meanders, yet it carries on flowing through debased landscape and public debate.”

It hosts life on the margins: deer, Canada geese, squirrels, raccoons, blackberries (beloved by pickers), and the tough drought-tolerant European willows which form an honour guard along much of its length. Walking Bowker celebrates the creek’s feral, ‘outlaw’ qualities, and reflects on ‘re-wilding’ in nature’s way.

Over half the ‘Bowker walk’ travels roads under which the creek flows through dark concrete tunnels. A Bowker walk must include the tunnels, but they are scary and difficult to enter: ice cold, pitch black, not for the faint of heart. Julian visits several entrances (each colourfully decorated with graffiti) and finally works up the bravado to go a short way inside, re-emerging with the same relief and triumph the creek seems to feel at its repeated resurrections into daylight.

What are the chances of Bowker’s paved sections ever being uncovered? Not good, concludes Julian, but to its intimates, Bowker’s beleaguered and veiled persistence is part of its charm.

 

Walking Bowker is available at local shops and through www.walkingbowker.blogspot.ca  Updates are at www.twitter.com/bowkerwalking.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

Most Read