Douglas Grant Pearce 1936 – 2013
“I knew him more from his Countryside Digest writings,” he wrote, “and they demonstrated his love of history, human nature, humour, and attention to detail.”
I received a note of sympathy after Doug died on June 30th this year from a reader who had met him only briefly. “I knew him more from his Countryside Digest writings,” he wrote, “and they demonstrated his love of history, human nature, humour, and attention to detail.” The note warmed me, because I knew it would have warmed Doug.
When we met, Doug had already taken early retirement from a 30-year career as a scientist with the Department of National Defence, but he was never intellectually idle. During our marriage, he read three to four books a week, along with countless magazine and journal articles. There were occasional mysteries in the mix, but mostly he read about the subjects that concerned him: sustainable agriculture, global economics, and the environment, especially climate change and peak oil – peak just about everything really.
He despaired that democratic nation states had given way to global “corporate fascists” who had not only seized and commercialized the levers of war – killing and impoverishing millions in the process – but had also purchased the fealty of our lawmakers and, in the name of growth and profit, were cynically and systematically destroying the ecology of our planet. Worse, they had been allowed to flourish by a populace stupefied into acquiescence by big media, “reality” TV, junk food, technological gadgetry, and the whole host of other opiates of our age. In short, he was pessimistic.
However, he was also an uncommonly decent man, who thought and felt deeply, and was as aware of his own frailties as those of others. He rarely fulminated, almost never retreated to sarcasm, and had a finely honed sense of humour that was more wry than ironic. As a scientist, he had concluded pessimism was the only logical response to the state of the planet. It was, in fact, what motivated him, and infinitely preferable to the self-serving optimism of the willfully blind. He remained convinced that common sense and decency would ultimately prevail, if only people had the facts.
And so, in his quiet way he used the Digest to deliver a compendium of them from his reading. Assembling them, as he said in his contributor profile in the spring issue, “to amuse, annoy, alarm and sometimes puzzle readers.” And over and over again readers reported it was the first page they turned to when the magazine arrived.
With his intelligent, thoughtful, often funny take on the world, Doug will be missed four times a year in the pages of this magazine, and he is missed every day in my heart.