The joy of telling bear stories 

Everyone can tell a tale about Whistler's iconic bruins, Sylvia Dolson has written three books about them

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CATHRYN ATKINSON - Bear facts Joy of Bears by Sylvia Dolson.
  • Photo by Cathryn Atkinson
  • Bear facts Joy of Bears by Sylvia Dolson.

Shared experiences and common stories are among the fastest ways for people to connect with others, for friendships to be made and communities to be built. For Whistlerites, one of our most common stories and shared experiences are our bear stories.

We all have them, bear stories, and they draw us together. The story of the bear is one of only a few threads to run through the entire fabric of the Whistler community. The bear is an icon, part of our image, we smile when we see them and they are our neighbours.

Few are as intimate with the story of Whistler bears as Sylvia Dolson.

A naturalist, wildlife photographer and writer, Sylvia has been involved with Whistler's Get Bear Smart Society since 1996 and now sits as its executive director. In that time she has become a leading expert on living with bears in residential communities and she is involved in a number of bear advocacy, management and conservancy groups.

Dolson has authored three books on bears including her recently published Joy of Bears, a breathtaking collection of bear photos and thoughtful quotes sure to bring a smile to children and adults alike. Along with a number of world-renowned wildlife photographers, Sylvia shares some of the most remarkable photos of black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears in a wonderful celebration of all things ursine.

"Bears represent everything wild," says Dolson. "I wanted to share with others the joy and peace bears have brought to my life. My hope was that through captivating photos and powerful words, others could in some small way feel that same connection and be inspired."

Closer to home, Dolson has also co-authored a book with Katherine Fawcett titled A Whistler Bear Story. A stunning collection of photos and thoughtful stories, A Whistler Bear Story will introduce you to Whistler bears Jeanie, Marissa, Fitz, Slip and others as you follow them through their adventures and misadventures. Be prepared for laugh-out-loud moments and stories that will both warm and break your heart as these loveable characters explore life around the resort.  

Entertaining as it is inspirational, A Whistler Bear Story delves into the world of coexistence and tells the story of how Whistler is working hard towards mitigating human-bear conflicts while becoming a model Bear Smart Community in the process.

"What fascinates me most is that they have the power and tools (claws and jaws) to cause us great harm, and yet they can be such peaceful animals," says Dolson. "They choose to coexist with us and tolerate our intrusion into their habitat. My hope for humankind is that we can learn the same."

Her third book, Bear~ology, is a handy reference guide every resident of bear country should own. It is a collection of fascinating bear facts, trivia, folklore and an interesting history of how bears have become embedded into our lives and culture. This must-have book is filled with information, wonderful photos, and bear cartoons.

Each of Dolson's three books are filled with wonderful photos, are great coffee table pieces and make for excellent Christmas gifts. Find them at Armchair Books, IGA and Home Hardware. They are available online at Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and direct through All proceeds going towards Get Bear Smart Society outreach programs.



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