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Journey to the Great Bear Rainforest

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

After our recent return from the 2015 Wild Country Grizzly Bear Venture- “In Search of the Bear Spirit Experience”, I am happy to share my reflections with you here.

While searching for the spirit of the bear, I found myself in a region of astounding beauty and abundance. Journeying through the Great Bear Rainforest has deepened the appreciation that I feel for my wildlife subjects and infused the way that I approach my art.

Shoreline Magnificence

Shoreline Magnificence

My initial desire on our journey was to witness the spirit of the bear in all its rugged wildness, I was surprised to observe an ordered social behaviour among the grizzlies. Co-existing in close proximity to one another, the coastal grizzlies feed for up to 9 hours a day from nutrient rich estuaries teeming with sea life. This makes for a fascinating social dynamic; one that is quite different from the image that I held of inland bears wandering in solitude in search of food and protecting vast territories.



We were fortunate to watch this social interplay unfold between 3 bears on the shoreline. A young female bear, known as Amber was feeding on kelp when she sensed a male bear that was tracking her along the water’s edge. Amber made a quick escape for the woods, getting off his scent trail as soon as she could. Continuing to traverse the shoreline, the male forged on towards the estuary when, spotting a much larger male bear stretched languidly across the estuary floor, he too quickly turned on his heels. Understanding that this larger male was clearly the alpha bear, we playfully named him “King of the Estuary”. In witnessing these behaviours, I began to see that the bears’ social order and hierarchy were actually quite similar to ours.

King of the Estuary

King of the Estuary

While searching for the bear spirit, I gained another valuable insight into this creature. In observing the bears’ light brown coats blending with the golds and earthy tones of the kelp and rocky shorelines, I was impressed by how seamlessly they camouflaged into their environment. I began to understand how connected the bear is to its habitat and to sense how its spirit cannot be perceived separately from its home.


Camouflaged in Kelp

My understanding of the bear’s connection to its landscape and my observation of the similarities between bears and humans led me to feel a closer affinity with them, inspiring a deeper care for these creatures and their environment. Becoming more aware of their vulnerability, I began to feel how important it is to preserve the rare places that sustain such magnificent forms of wildlife.

My son, Kurtis, who is a videographer and photographer, and I have compiled a slideshow of our favourite images of the journey, combined with my reflections on the bears and their habitat. We invite you to view the slideshow here.

Kurtis and Lyle


Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


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