Greg Pond

Nature lover’s memory lives on

Jim Dubois touched so many lives that people he didn’t even know bought him a bench to commemorate his memory.

Avid nature photographer and philanthropist Jim Dubois touched so many lives that people he didn’t even know bought him a bench to commemorate his memory.

Dubois’ new, wooden park bench is just one of 100 that will be resurrected around the province in celebration of BC Parks’ 100-year anniversary. The province is selling the limited-edition benches for $1,500 each to improve park facilities across B.C.

A group of people from around the world, some who had never met Dubois but simply enjoyed looking at his photos on Flickr, banded together to purchase a bench for their friend.

Greg Pond met Dubois on Flickr in 2005 after joining the social media site that allows users to network through photos. “Somehow you gravitate towards certain people,” Pond said. “He was very personable, a real character, smart and witty. He would post pictures, mostly nature pictures and he would often tell an amusing story with the photos. He was really popular on Flickr. Everybody loved him, but it turned out he was sick.”

Dubois had chronic obstructive lung disease and routinely travelled to Vancouver for treatment. It was on one such occasion that Pond finally met his Flickr friend after exchanging e-mails. After that, Pond would often meet up with Dubois and his wife Linda when he came to the city for medical treatment.

Three years ago, Dubois had a lung transplant and fellow nature lover and friend Christine Scott said he didn’t waste a second of those next three years he would live.

“He was an advocate for organ donation and after his transplant he was outdoors all the time,” Scott said.

But in May, Dubois’ disease and pneumonia caught up to him and after his death, Scott – who writes the Island Wild column in the Mirror – suggested everyone on Flickr buy a bench in Dubois’ memory.

“There was a large community of people who were grieving Jim’s loss,” Scott said. “I thought the bench would be a fitting tribute and a lasting tribute to the contribution he made to everything wild out there.”

Pond said 30 people contributed money and of those 30 people, only about four or five personally knew Dubois.

Scott said she was fortunate to know Dubois.She said not only was Dubois a student of the environment, but he was also very generous. Scott said often Dubois would donate his framed photos – to be raffled off – to community non-profit groups to help them with their work.

Dubois’ bench has yet to be installed by BC Parks and there is no timeline as to when that will happen.

The bench is expected to be installed along the Canyon View Trail near the John Hart Dam, overlooking the Campbell River. Right where Dubois would want it to be.