While images of rain forests often include humid forests with colourful birds and exotic flowers, common to areas of equatorial Central and South America, Asia and Africa; few people realize an area of the west coast of north America has a similar climate-type that produces a temperate coastal rain forest, more commonly referred to as old-growth forests.
Rainforests are rare, and ever so precious, these lungs of planet earth comprising much less than 1% of Earth's surface. One of the largest contiguous tracts of temperate rain forest left in the world is on British Columbia's mainland coast. Within this area, the relatively mild climate, high precipitation (it is a rain forest), and, limited human development resulted in a long lasting ecosystem where trees can exceed 2000 years of age.
The rain forest draws many to it, calling artists such as Canada's Emily Carr. Emily actual built a small base camp deep in the BC forest. With an abundance of inspiration she spent a lifetime writing and painting under the rain forest foliage. Likewise, one of my good friends, Rod Tait of Orca Canoes & Kayaks Ltd. (Orca Boats) has a strong connection and inspiration from said forest. Growing up in a small coastal community, Rod Tait earned his love of being on the water and working around boats. His family owned a small fishing resort and there was always work to do to maintain the fleet of small wooden boats and take guests on guided tours. Summers were filled with adventures of rowing, crabbing, fishing, hiking and learning to appreciate the great outdoors. More time was spent on the water than on land as travel to other places was easier by boat for a young man than walking or cycling. Alas, the draw of the big city was too great. When he was in his early teens, Rod's family relocated to Vancouver, B.C. where he finished high school and college.
The draw of the green forests and blue waters never left Rod. He still spends as much time as possible exploring the backroads of B.C., which entails paddling many coastal areas around Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and beyond, motivated by his love of fly fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
In 1997, Rod built his first wooden boat, a wood strip prospector canoe in his garage and a new love emerged. Almost 20 years later, as owner of Orca Boats, Rod Tait has been designing and building custom wooden canoes and kayaks. From his small shop in Coquitlam, B.C., the company has grown to international status with commissioned boats proudly on display in the Vancouver International Airport, luxury homes across North America and beyond. His boats have also been featured in print ads, several television shows and in full length feature films. Rod's water craft are cherished by discerning owners, some of whom never let their boats touch water. More recently, Rod and I are collaborating on another rain forest project. It is our goal to bring this art of strip wood kayak construction to the Ecuadors Amazon, yet another rain forest. After two years work, we assembled, in the country, almost all the machinery necessary to construct, and already produced a couple of test kayaks.
We are extremely excited about building kayaks sustainably, and utilizing the rare hardwoods found in the jungle. The next phase is to share this knowledge with indigenous communities and hopefully start a grass roots industry for the benefit of South America's people of el Orienté. Building a business model in an extremely remote and generally poor area is difficult, but the artistic inspiration is there...in the beautiful rainforest.
Rod’s artistry/work may be viewed on his web site at www.orcaboats.ca