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Learn about explorer David Douglas tonight in Tacoma

Post by Debby Abe on Nov. 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
November 10, 2010 2:09 pm

The ubiquitous Douglas Fir, the tree that populates our forests and provides the skeleton for many of our homes, owes its name to the Pacific Northwest’s most famous botanical explorer.

David Douglas, a 19th Century naturalist, documented 100s of plants in the Western United States, including the fir tree that bears his name.

Tonight, author Jack Nisbet will show slides and discuss Douglas’ life and adventures. Nisbet wrote a book about Douglas called “The Collector.”

The free talk will be at 7 p.m.  (Wednesday, Nov. 10) at the Wheelock Library, 3722 North 26th St., in Tacoma’s Proctor Business District. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Here’s more from the Tacoma Public Library about Nisbet’s appearance:

David Douglas was the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and throughout other areas of western North America in the 19th century. Douglas’ discoveries include hundreds of western plants, most notably the iconic Douglas Fir.

In Nisbet’s “The Collector” the Spokane historian and naturalist tracks Douglas’ fascinating history, from his humble birth in Scotland in 1799 to his botanical training under the famed William Jackson Hooker, and details his adventures in North America discovering “exotic” new plants for the English and European market.

Nisbet’s book takes the reader along on Douglas’ journeys into a strange new world that stretched from Puget Sound to the Sandwich Islands. “In telling his story, Nisbet evokes a lost world of early exploration, pristine nature, ambition, and cultural and class conflict with surprisingly modern resonances.”

David Douglas’ adventures is one of the greatest history adventures of the nineteenth century. For most of the next decade, Douglas made his home primarily along the Columbia River and its tributaries-insofar as it can be said that he had a home.

He seized every opportunity to explore new territory, forging deep into what is now western and central Canada and down the coast, by sea, as far as Monterey, California (then still part of Mexico). Everywhere he roamed he filled his journals with notes and his collecting bags with skins, seeds, and live plants. Just two years after his arrival in the region, he estimated that he had already traveled 7,032 miles by foot, horseback, and canoe.

Jack Nisbet is a teacher, naturalist, and writer who lives in Spokane, Washington. The Collector is his 6th book and was chosen for a 2010 Pacific Northwest Book Award by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Nisbet’s other books on Northwest history and nature include “Mapmaker’s Eye,” “Sources of the River,” and “Visible Bones.”

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