Magnificently Unrepentant: The Story of Merve Wilkinson and Wildwood


236 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-894384-32-6
DDC 634.9'092





Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is Director of Research and Natural Lands at the Royal
Botanical Gardens.


In her first book, B.C. writer Goody Niosi profiles that province’s
most celebrated sustainable forester. In the foreword, Duncan Taylor of
the University of Victoria evaluates Wilkinson’s achievement in the
face of globalizing economic forces. A childhood in Nanaimo preceded a
period of odd jobs and millwork in Powell River before marriage and the
purchase of what became his famous Wildwood forest, also known as
“Mervana.” Influenced by a forestry course from Sweden, Wilkinson
adopted his approach of selective cutting, initially only every five
years, and also learned to deal with crooked mill owners.

Niosi makes clear the impact of the events of his times, whether
distant like the Spanish Civil War or domestic (e.g., credit unions,
civil defence, and involvement in the Co-operative Commonwealth
Federation). The suicide of Wilkinson’s first wife, divorce by his
second, alienation of his son, and burning of his house were hard blows,
offset by rewarding travel, raising foster children, enjoyment of
nature, and happy marriage to a Raging Granny. At his sentencing as a
Clayoquot Sound protester, the judge described him as “magnificently
unrepentant.” More recently he has become an environmental icon,
attracting the attention of the media and such celebrities as David
Suzuki, Robert Bateman, and Jane Goodall.

Black-and-white photographs illustrate the forests and communities in
which Wilkinson’s life has been spent. This warm and intimate
biography, rich in local history and personal anecdote, is recommended
for everyone fond of forests and their heroes.


Niosi, Goody., “Magnificently Unrepentant: The Story of Merve Wilkinson and Wildwood,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,