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When journalist John Vaillant journeyed to the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia for an article he was writing on kayaking, he didn't know that he would end up writing a book that is part mystery, part anthropology and social commentary, and nothing about kayaking. The Golden Spruce, a unique spruce tree 50 meters tall and covered with luminous golden needles -- sacred to the Haida on whose land it had stood for over 300 years, and beloved by local loggers who singled it out for protection in the midst of vast clear cuts -- was cut down by a logger-turned-activist named Grant Hadwin in 1997. The loss of the mythic golden spruce united loggers, natives and environmentalists in sorrow and outrage. But while heroic efforts were made to revive the tree, Grant Hadwin, the tree's confessed killer, disappeared under suspicious circumstances. John Vaillant's book The Golden Spruce grew out of an article published in 2002 in The New Yorker. (A Talk of the Town
lecture originally presented on 12-May-2005)