From park wardens to poachers to now a book on Canada’s largest national park, author George Mercer takes readers through his next journey in his book, Wood Buffalo.
This is the second book in Mercer’s first fiction series, all loosely based on he and his wife’s experiences around Canadian national parks. Mercer retired after a career as a national park warden in Canada, having worked in six national parks on both the east and west coasts.
“We basically started on the east coast and worked our way across the country and ended up here in the Gulf Islands sort of to help establish Gulf Islands National Park, so the series is loosely based on our experiences but it is fiction,” he told the PNR.
The series follows main characters Ben Matthews and Kate Jones who start out in book one in Cape Breton Highlands National Park and later end up moving across the country, reuniting in the second book. The second in his planned six-book series, Wood Buffalo tells the story of a main character who lands in Wood Buffalo National Park right around the time when there was a proposal to slaughter the entire bison herd in the park.
“There actually was a proposal back in the ‘80s to slaughter a herd of animals in the park,” he said, adding that it’s a park larger than Switzerland with 42,000 square kilometres.
Prior to the main character’s (Matthews) arrival, an elder trapper in the community went missing. The elder is considered to be quite influential in the community, and is against the idea of slaughter. Matthews then proceeds to try and find him, while also uncovering the truth about the proposed slaughter and to ultimately stop it.
Mercer’s process in writing his stories, he said, started with his career in the parks service. He has based his books largely on recollections of the various locations he’s been.
He and his wife were even in Wood Buffalo for seven years, so know the park intimately.
Looking ahead, Mercer said his plan is to have six books in the series and is including the prologue and first chapter for the next one in this current volume. The next book will see the characters move on to Jasper, and from there onto the Gulf Islands.
Mercer calls the series Pan-Canadian, saying that the books will go full circle back to the east coast.
“And the idea is that the series will end on the east coast with the last story sort of ending where the first story Dyed in The Green began.”
Readers can find Wood Buffalo at Tanner’s Books in Sidney, Munro’s, Ivy’s bookshop, Dragonfly Books in Langford and Talisman Books & Gallery on Pender Island.