Stephen Legault is the author of seven books, including most recently The Third Riel Conspiracy, A Durrant Wallace mystery, and The Slickrock Paradox. He is a full time conservation activist, writer, photographer and strategy consultant who lives in Canmore, Alberta with his wife Jenn, and two sons, Rio and Silas. He has been writing since 1988, and for nearly as long has been leading national and international conservation programs and organizations.
About Writing (and speaking personally)
I’ve been writing since May of 1988. I remember it very clearly: I had been kicked out of my grade 11 biology class for talking (I was innocent, but my appeal fell on deaf ears). It was a beautiful spring day and on impulse I bought a notebook from the grocery store and retreated to the familiar woods near my suburban home and started jotting down fragments of really bad, angst ridden, teenage poetry (mostly about biology teachers).
A couple of years later I published some of my first articles in my college newspaper; some of those stories nearly got me fired from the college when I took a job with them.
When I moved to the Canadian Rockies I wrote letters to the editor and in 1995 began penning a column for the Banff Crag and Canyon, the local weekly newspaper. The Crag actually did fire me for being too anti-development. Parks Canada, my summer employer, fired me for being too outspoken about protecting the Park, though I think it was just to keep up with the Joneses.
But I persevered at writing. Between 1995 and 2001 I focused on penning articles for magazines, newspapers and journals and over that six year period published about 150 stories in more than 20 different periodicals. The Crag’s sister paper, The Canmore Leader, picked up my column and published it for more than five years, until I became too busy with my conservation work in 2001.
In the early 1990’s I also started dreaming about publishing a book. I pitched dozens of ideas to hundreds of publishers before, in a moment of weakness, Arsenal Pulp Press agreed to publish Carry Tiger to Mountain in 2005. The book came out the following year: elapsed time: a dozen years.
A lot has changed. As you can see by the “Books” section of this site, I have a lot of ideas that I hope will see the light of day in the next few years. One thing that has remained consistent through the last two decades (besides getting fired or kicked out of stuff for my writing): I write to connect with people and with the natural world. Like my photography the pen and the keyboard are tools employed to try and make sense out of this world and discover what is unique to our humanity and our place in nature.
I’ve been active in civil society since 1988 when I helped found my high school’s first environmental club. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was involved in the student movement in Canada, helping found my college’s Earth Issues Club and serving as the Ontario co-Director of the Canadian Unified Student Environmental Network. In 1992 I moved to Alberta to work for Parks Canada and became involved in the conservation movement here. I served as a director of the Bow Valley Naturalists, as 1st Vice-President of the Alberta Wilderness Association, Chair of the Kananaskis Coalition (13 community, recreation, and conservation groups), and as a founding director of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
In 1999 I co-founded Wildcanada.net, a national conservation organization whose mandate was to help conservation minded Canadians and other conservation organizations integrate online technology into strategically sound conservation efforts. In December of that year I became the organization’s first Executive Director, and led the organization’s development to serve more than 35,000 people, and participate in over 60 conservation campaigns. With the team at Wildcanada.net, I helped launch ActionWorks.ca in 2004, bringing Wildcanada.net’s expertise to the broader civil society movement across Canada.
In July of 2005 my family and I moved to Victoria, BC and I launched Highwater Mark Strategy and Communications where I worked with more than twenty-five social profit organizations, businesses and a number of government agencies since that time, including VanCity Credit Union, Mountain Equipment Co-op and MitoCanada.
In 2008 and 2009 I took the only real job I’ve ever had, working part time as the Senior Development Officer (Sustainability) for The Royal Roads University Foundation. I got to work with a dedicated team to raise $100 million for the Universities capital and sustainability projects, with a focus on the Robert Bateman Centre for Art and Environmental Education. My portfolio was green businesses and providing leadership of triple-bottom line practices for business, government and society.
In 2011, after returning to the Bow Valley of Alberta after five years in Victoria, I came full circle to take a position back in the environmental movement as the Coordinator of the Crown of the Continent Conservation Initiative. Here I work with fifteen leading internationally focused non-profits and academic organizations to protect the 75,000 km2 region surrounding Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.