The Place in the Forest


222 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-896219-29-2
DDC 591.9713




Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is the former executive director of the Canadian Museum
of Nature.


Nature writer R.D. Lawrence has authored 27 works. The Place in the
Forest is a reissue of the 1967 volume in which he sensitively describes
his experience of nature at his wilderness property in eastern Ontario.
Notwithstanding the organization of the book into untitled chapters, the
text is a continuous discourse on animals, plants, seasons, and personal
adventures. Most of the material flows well, although the detail on
caring for some orphaned raccoons is excessive. There are
black-and-white photographs taken by the author and an index of

Lawrence’s writing is perceptive and eloquent. His soft-focus
emotionality will please some readers but offend others. “Deep
ecologists” who seek meaning in nature will love Lawrence. Those more
concerned with accuracy will be disquieted by reports of fleeing
snowstorms and writhing mists, and by the prominence of “Creation”
as an active agent. How does Lawrence know that death is “quick and
easy” for a hare but agonizing for a snake? To describe wilderness as
“kind and savage” is to incorrectly load it with value.

Lawrence’s claim that hardheaded scientists study the mysterious and
the impossible reflects blatant ignorance of scientific practice, and
his use of such phrases as “the unromantic language of the
scientist” is conducive to the breeding of anti-science.


Lawrence, R.D., “The Place in the Forest,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,