Briony Penn

Award-winning author Briony Penn to speak at nature centre

Award-winning author Briony Penn will give a presentation on her book The Real Thing at the Scout Island Nature Centre next week.

Award-winning author Briony Penn will give a presentation on her book The Real Thing at the Scout Island Nature Centre next week.

Penn was the guest speaker at the nature centre’s annual fundraising banquet in 2015 and returns at the request of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists for a presentation on Wednesday, Sept. 14 starting at 7 p.m.

After three years of writing and unravelling “the secret life” of Ian McTaggart Cowan and the animals and landscapes that he studied, Penn has written his official biography in The Real Thing.

Cowan, (1910-2010), is known as the “father of Canadian ecology.”

From his formative years roaming the mountains around Vancouver looking for venison to his last years co-editing the authoritative Birds of British Columbia, Cowan’s life provides a unique perspective on a century of environmental change with a critical message for the future.

No stranger to the suppression of scientists or challenging pipelines, hydro projects, pesticides and industrial logging, Cowan pioneered nature television and later hired David Suzuki.

He is also known for his work in the Chilcotin which started with biological inventories of Chezacut Lake in 1931, Quesnel region in 1932, and various other surveys leading to the establishment of a research station at Westwick Lake in 1947 which operated for 16 years.

Penn was too modest to mention it in her promo, but her book has won the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize for the book that contributes most to the enjoyment and understanding of B.C., as well as the Mack Laing Heritage Society Literary Prize.

She also is an award-winning natural history feature writer with her writings for magazines such as Canadian Geographic and Explore. Her book A Year On the Wild Side was a BC Books bestseller.

Penn has been collecting stories from original journals, describing adventures and relationships for years.

Some stories in her book Staying in the Saddle date to the late 1800s, when her ancestors, the Drummond family, homesteaded at Riske Creek. Penn also journalled while working as a cowgirl on her family’s ancestral ranch in 1982.

Read more about Penn at

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