• Mahigan Lepage

Ian Ferrier, _Bear Dreams_. Paysages formidables

Date inconnue.



When I first hitched my way to the Rocky Mountains I was in the back seat of a blue Chevy riding out of Calgary. I could see their outlines fifty miles away, a white wall of rock and ice.

It was the middle of May and there was snow still on the ground and the closer I got to those mountains the more fantastic and unbelievable they became. Until finally when I was surrounded by mountains, when there was no place I could look and not see them, I didn’t believe them at all.

I was certain they were not true hills, but some cosmological trick where perfectly good country had been invaded by billboard pictures of peaks erected in the middle of the night to make the tourists say “ooh look at that!!”

And that at any second this quantum madness would disappear and I would see only the wooden supports that had once cradled this illusion, hidden behind the trees.

And in two weeks of walking the trails through Jasper Park I never stopped feeling that way. This landscape is not of this world. Water is never turquoise nor opaque as milk. Glaciers aren’t green. Mountains just don’t hurl themselves at the sky. Elk don’t live. And what is this wild noise when the wind comes up? Trees don’t fall like toothpicks on the side of a mountain. For god’s sakes man, wolves don’t


I do not know this land. This land is so weird that if I blinked it would go away, and in its place would be the void.

Now many years later I came back to those mountains. I was riding out of Calgary again, this time in a pickup truck with a man trying to get thousands of gallons of live tropical fish to Vancouver before the brakes wore out or his cargo died (I don’t make this stuff up!). And I was watching the way the boulders gathered at the bottom of the sheer cliffs, the moss that clung to the earth, the rivers and streams all falling down, the fragility of life thriving on six inches of soil scattered over 6000 feet of rock.

And this time I saw those things, those things I recognized, because in the intervening years they had been percolating through my soul, wearing down to the raw edges of my understanding of the land and its connection to my own heart until such time as I found myself yelling at the driver saying “Stop this truck! I know this place!!”

Percolating through my soul. Black black black coffee. This country done witched me, done bewitched me. Told be some blue song and it’s percolating through my soul.

It is thus that I lay my claim down to the territory of the Rocky Mountains. I did not grow up with them but I became familiar with their landmarks early in my independent life.

So that when the time came to measure myself against something, I knew what that place would be. The mountains would be what I’d use to measure my own progress, to see whether in the years that I’d be writing this all down I’d gotten anywhere at all.

And it would be a simple test: I would pull my latest masterpiece off the typewriter and listen to what it said, and walk back into the towers of the mountains and hear the wind how o wow o wow ow howl.

So now you see what it’s done. It’s gone percolated through my soul. Black black kicking horse coffee. Land done witched me bewitched me

High mountain—June snow country—Percolating through my—Percolate through my soul.

I am grown of this land. I know tall sheer mountain la-a-a-AND. Ay yi and ay yi ay yi ya. Timber fall. Glacier lake gone green. (p. 30-32)


La puissance des Rocheuses, l'impression si forte de leur découverte : jamais encore je n'avais entendu quelqu'un l'aussi bien dire. Ian Ferrier a tracé le même chemin que moi, sur le pouce d'est en ouest, pour arriver à cette confrontation : la montagne, l'immense et puissante et invraisemblable montagne. Pour lui Jasper, pour moi Banff, les glaciers, les rivières émeraude, crémeuses, les bêtes sauvages comme données, c'était donc vrai? Ça se pouvait, mieux que le National Geographic, mieux que les photos glacées du magazine, ces paysages à manger, ces coulis d'animaux et de verts forts? Ces wapitis dans les rues de la ville, le velours tendre de leurs bois?

Non, nous ne venons pas de ces paysages. Ils sont pour nous hors du commun, hors du domaine de l'imaginable. Mais le formidable des Rocheuses fait partie de mes paysages intérieurs depuis l'adolescence; ce n'est peut-être pas la jauge que c'est pour Ian, mais c'est un espace de faim, d'immense appétit des sens. Avec le projet Oùrs, je suis repassé par les Rocheuses et j'ai rechuté dans la boulimie des paysages : manger les montagnes, les wapitis, les hiboux, boire les rivières, lécher les glaciers... comme l'ours en rêve, ce gros gourmand.

I am grown of this land. Ce pays me grandit.


Ian Ferrier, Bear Dreams, Montréal, Popolo Press, 2015, 68 p.

(Ce n'est pas un hasard, non ce n'est pas un hasard si j'ai rouvert ce livre aujourd'hui : je viens d'apprendre que je séjournerai au Banff Centre en mars et avril 2019, en résidence d'écriture, dans un studio au milieu de la forêt et des bêtes, de la neige onctueuse...)