One of the things I love the most about the Royal BC Museum are the dioramas. I think that like myself, many visitors get lost in their own imagination and experiences when they enter into a diorama. I wonder what people think about or remember when they are engaged in looking at something like the bear in our forest diorama.
About two years ago, my partner and I were camping at William A. Switzer Provincial Park in the Alberta foothills. As soon as we arrived we noticed all the bear warning signs and heeded them accordingly. We kept our campsite clean, made noise while hiking and watched for scat and other bear signs.
Later that week we took our canoe out on Gregg Lake. We were paddling along the shore approaching a narrowing, quietly enjoying the sights and sounds of the lake when I heard a loud “Whoomph!” I turned to my left and noticed a cinnamon coloured grizzly bear staring at us from the rushes. He must have been eating when we startled him. In the time it took me to call out “Bear!” he charged towards the shore – bringing him within 5 meters of our canoe. I thought to myself “He will run away” when he stood on his hind legs. I raised my paddle and started hollering out while my partner deftly turned the canoe towards the middle of the lake. Then the bear then got into the water and started swimming towards us!! We started paddling like crazy and I looked over my shoulder to see the bear swim across the narrow and get out on the shore on the other side of the lake. He then tracked us along the shore watching until we were well into the centre of the lake. We lost sight of him after about 10 minutes, but we didn’t forget. That night I barely slept (pun intended) and in the morning we packed up and left a day early.
I learned a few things – bears are huge, they are fast and they SWIM!! Most importantly I learned that you have to be bear aware even when you are canoeing – especially if you are close to the shore.
I’ll never know what everyone is reminiscing about when they are amongst the dioramas, but if you feel inspired to share some of your stories, I’d love to hear about them.