"We could belong here too. We could be like the bull trout, the willows, the wary horses; like the river that continuously arises from these fine green places where the waters are born. We could find our best selves in the stories of those living waters and the river that gathers them together. Ultimately, after all, we are that river." – from Heart Waters
Water does not come from the river. It comes to the river. Heart Waters takes us to the sources of that water – and into the living beauty, human stories and future possibilities that also arise from the green uplands and valleys of Alberta's Eastern Slopes, where the mighty Bow River is born.
For more than a century the foothills and Front Range mountains of western Alberta have been recognized as being vital to the water supply for western Canada. Virtually all the water that sustains communities, ecosystems and the economy of prairie Canada comes from this narrow strip of land arrayed along the Continental Divide. For all its importance, however, water management decisions affecting this enormous region have ignored the significance of land health and focused almost exclusively on building dams.
The result, as the author points out, is that the Bow River's annual flows have decreased by more than a tenth, even as spring floods become more frequent and more destructive. The solutions to prairie Canada's water challenges lie in healing the wounded landscapes of our headwaters.
Heart Waters delves deeply into the history and ecology of a landscape whose critical value as a watershed is matched by its sheer beauty and diversity. A rich array of stunning images by Jasper-based photographer Brian Van Tighem complements the author's well-researched explorations of the stories whispered by the living waters that drain from Banff National Park, Kananaskis Country and the famous ranchlands of the Bow River watershed.
Kevin Van Tighem's latest book is a deep exploration of place and an invitation to recognize that our water future depends upon knowing our headwaters better and caring for them more passionately – as our heart waters.