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Vancouver Island children’s author writes about famous fir tree ‘Lonely Doug’

Writer and illustrator Lindsay Ford releases 10th children’s book
Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Lonely Doug.’ (Photo courtesy Bread and Clutter)

In her 10th children’s book, Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford tells the story of “one of B.C.’s last great trees.”

Ford’s latest book, Lonely Doug, is about a 70-metre-tall Douglas fir tree standing in the middle of a clear-cut area outside of Port Renfrew. Ford said its trunk is as wide as a living room and the tree is estimated to be more than 1,000 years old.

“When you see people standing next to it they look like miniature people. He’s that huge,” she said. “And he just goes all the way up to the sky and there on the very top he’s got this odd, little, Charlie Brown-looking bent over tuft of a top.”

Ford said the story touches on B.C.’s old-growth forests as well as the idea that “just because you stand alone, [it] doesn’t mean you’re lonely.” Ford said she was partly inspired by the increased isolation that people have been living through during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Doug’s experience has been similar.

“He’s got this name, Lonely Doug, and you kind of feel for him, like, ‘Aww, poor Doug.’ But is he really actually lonely?” she said. “It’s kind of reflective of my own personal experience having been on my own and solo from time to time in my life and finding that I am not lonely. In fact, it encourages you to become a friend of yourself and … to stand stronger on your own.”

The book also ties in with the others in Ford’s Awkward and Awesome series. The woman who inspired the character from The Granny That Never Got Old has been attending the Fairy Creek logging protests and Howard the giant roadside garden gnome that moved from Nanoose Bay to Saanich, another subject of hers, also makes an appearance.

Ford said releasing her 10th book is an important accomplishment and she’s unsure where her writing will take her next.

“It’s a huge milestone,” she said. “I never would have thought back when I made my very first book four and a half years ago that this is where I would be.”

Lonely Doug is available online.

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