Quiet and unassuming, this man was one of the giants behind the British Columbia forest conservation
movement. During the past fifteen years, the last fifteen of his life, Marion Parker blazed a trail which led to the
preservation of some of British Columbia's oldest forests. Marion died at St.Mary's Hospital in Sechelt in July,
Marion was one of the first to sign up for duty with Friends
of Caren and to involve himself with efforts of the
group to protect the remaining forests on the Caren Range from logging. This was at a time when he was
already involved with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and with native bands on Vancouver Island
and on the Mainland trying to help them to protect important forests such as Mears Island, the Tsitka valley
and the Carmanah from being logged.
As a practicing dendrochronologist, one of the few scientists
in his field, he was able to bring credibility to the
finds made by himself and others as to the great age of the forests and to push for their preservation. On the
Caren he was able to document that some of the yellow cedars and hemlocks felled during the eighties and in
1990 were Canada's and the worlds oldest known trees of these species.
One day a small group of people including John Field had
gone up the mountain at Marion's urgings to take a
sample of trees he felt might be of significant age. Marion had directed them to a valley he felt might be a good
place to look. On finding a stump marked with a pop can the group set about taking a section off the top of the
stump so that later a count could be made of the rings to learn its age. They were sure that Marion had marked
the stump with the can. Marion was a little late getting to the site. As he came up to the men taking the section
he said he thought they had a dandy. They said "Well we found your pop can and began to take the section
when we didn't know where you were." Marion told them it was not he who had put it there but probably the
logger who had felled the tree. He was not one to take credit for something he knew he had not had a hand in.
The yellow cedar that had been felled in 1990 was 1824 years old. That was in September 1993. We haven't
looked very hard since then but we are sure that some of the old giants we have found in the Caren Range's
ancient forests are of the same or even greater age.
On another occasion Friends of Caren was holding a meeting
and had invited Marion as guest speaker. When
it came time for Marion to take the podium he moved a table up to the front. On this he placed a glass jar in
which there were one hundred coloured jaw breakers. He had brought a piece of fir plywood and a hammer. He
began his talk by telling us how he had been involved with finding the oldest trees in the US by counting the
rings. He told us these were Bristle Cone Pine trees which grew in the mountains on the border of the atomic
testing range in Nevada. We listened with great interest. Then it was time for Marion to give us a
demonstration of what the forest industry was doing to the rich forest heritage we have inherited in British
Columbia. He reminded everyone that this forest heritage was so precious that not another stick of old growth
should be felled. He said we owed its preservation to our children and to the people of the world because it
was their heritage too. Then he proceeded to systematically hammer the jaw breakers on the piece of plywood
into dust. When he had got to the seventy seventh candy he asked the audience whether we knew what he
was trying to demonstrate. Some of us shook our heads. He said that the bottle of jaw breakers had had one
hundred candies which represented the forests on the Coast of BC when he had started to destroy them in
front of us. When seventy seven had been shattered he said this represented the forests as they were ten
years ago. He continued to hammer the jaw breakers. When there were five left he asked Jordan Field, then a
twelve year old, to come up on the stage with him. He asked him, "Do you know what these five jaw breakers
represent?" Jordan said, "I guess they represent the old growth that is left- only five percent."
"Right on", said Marion. "Now", he said, "The forest industry
is asking me to share the remaining five percent
of the forest with them." With that he gave the five jaw breakers to Jordan.
"The forest industry has had its share, these five are
for you. We must keep the remainder of this precious old
growth forest for ourselves and for the creatures that live in it."
Well done Marion. We will miss you and your dedication
to the ancient forests of British Columbia which you