Unitarian minister and University librarian Mac Elrod and his
wife Norma took us in and introduced us to local pacifist crowd. I
found a job as reporter and photographer at the North Shore News
community newspaper. While covering a local story, I met Bree
Drummond who was sitting in a platform, high in a cottonwood tree
to save it from being felled for a parking lot by North Vancouver
maintenance crews. Her boyfriend, Rod Marining, was a wild Yippie
environmentalist who had helped stop the construction of a Four
Seasons Hotel at the entrance to Vancouver's magnificent Stanley
Park by declaring the land 'All Season Park' and camping out on the
site until the developers gave up. He also had sailed for the
Aleutian Island of Amchitka to protest a U.S. atomic bomb test
there as a member of the Don't Make A Wave Committee that had
changed its name to the 'Greenpeace Foundation' that spring.
It was here in the Cecil pub that I first met Bob Cummings,
writer for the counterculture underground newspaper Georgia
Straight, and another crew member from the bomb protest. Cummings
would rail against injustice to the free press. 'The straight media
ignore the real stories,' he complained, 'and if you write for an
underground paper you should expect to be arrested.' Hunter would
admonish Cummings about 'leftist rhetoric and posturing' in the
Georgia Strait. 'The ideal newspaper,' he said 'will praise the
radicals when they're right, and critique them mercilessly when
they're wrong.' These debates were never resolved, but rolled on
endlessly, washed down with rounds of beer.
It was here in the pub that Dr. Paul Spong, a scientist at the
Vancouver Aquarium, appeared in 1974 promoting his radical idea
that we should put our lives on the line to save the whales. The
anti-war activists were skeptical at first, but Spong's idea would
soon change the face of this little band of radicals.
On an Ocean Named for Peace
In 1969 in Vancouver hippies and revolutionaries mixed gleefully
in the redbrick coffee houses of Gastown, and in the
rainbow-painted organic juice bars of tree-lined Kitsilano near the
University of British Columbia. 'Revolutions,' says Hunter, 'start
at the outer fringes of the empire, in this case the American
Empire.' When the U.S. announced that summer that they were going
to test a 1.2 megaton nuclear bomb on the Aleutian Island of
Amchitka, Vancouver peaceniks, love children, American draft
dodgers, and Marxist revolutionaries began to agitate. In September
1969 Hunter warned in his newspaper column of 'a distinct danger
that the tests might set in motion earthquakes and tidal waves
which could sweep from one end of the Pacific to the other.' This
image of the tidal wave captured the imagination of Canadians
opposed to the U.S. bomb test.
Three decades later Hunter recalls 'In Vancouver at that time
there was a convergence of hippies, draft dodgers, Tibetan monks,
seadogs, artists, radical ecologists, rebel journalists, Quakers,
and expatriate Yanks in the one major city that happened to be
closest to Amchitka Island, where the U.S. wanted to explode a
bomb. Greenpeace was born of all of this.'
Vancouver lawyer Hamish Bruce read Hunter's columns and called
the reporter. Bruce wanted to start an organization called the
'Green Panthers.' Hunter and Bruce became fast friends. They
plotted to establish the Green Panthers as the ecological
equivalent of the Black Panthers, whose leader, Fred Hampton,
Hunter had interviewed in Chicago. 'Our idea,' says Bruce today,
'was that ecology was the sleeping giant, the issue that was
ultimately going to rock the world.'
At that time, Hunter was writing his third book, Storming of the
Mind, about the 'new holistic consciousness,' in which he declares
'In ecology we see the new consciousness finding its roots.' Hunter
predicted that continued environmental deterioration would lead to
the rise of 'the Green Panthers or their equivalent,' and he
advocated 'the hoisting of the green flag.'
On October 2, when the U.S. detonated the bomb at Amchitka, a
mob from Vancouver stormed the U.S. border, closing it to traffic
for two hours. A banner placed at the border crossing read: 'Don't
Make a Wave' in reference to the potential tidal wave. In January
1970 the protestors moved to the U.S. Embassy and 'liberated'
Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. The seeds of Greenpeace
were in these crowds. Hippies on bicycles milled among the
anti-bomb protestors, stopping cars and delivering speeches about
Among the protestors was freelance journalist Ben Metcalfe, who
had a radio program on the CBC. Metcalfe, on his own initiative,
had placed 12 billboard signs in Vancouver that read:
Look it up. You're involved.
'It's hard to imagine now, ' says Metcalfe, 'but in those days
most people had no idea what the word ecology meant. I was doing
environmental stories on my radio program and I started a campaign
to stop the Skagit River Dam. In the winter of 1969 and 1970, the
U.S. bomb tests were the hot story. The night we closed the U.S.
border, Hunter and Hamish Bruce were there, and Jim and Marie
The Bohlens had fled to Canada from the U.S. to keep their sons
out of Vietnam. Jim, a World War II naval veteran and plastics
engineer, started a Canadian chapter of the Sierra Club and formed
the Canadian Assistance to War Objectors, providing shelter for
draft dodgers. 'Our first Sierra Club action,' recalls Bohlen, 'was
to save a seagull nesting habitat in Nanaimo Harbour. It was during
this campaign that I discovered the power of the press. Later, I
met Irving and Dorothy Stowe at an End the Arms Race
Irving Stowe was a lawyer from Providence, Rhode Island who had
adopted Quakerism. He and Dorothy had participated in a protest
against the nuclear Polaris submarines in Connecticut during which
the Committee for Nonviolent Direct Action placed boats in front of
the launching subs. Later, the Stowes moved their family to Canada
to keep their son out of the U.S. military. When the U.S. announced
a new, 5-megaton nuclear bomb test on Amchitka Island, the Bohlens
and Stowes wanted to do something dramatic to protest. Exploiting
the popular tidal wave image, they formed a spin-off of the Sierra
Club called The Don't Make a Wave Committee, which met in the
basement of the Vancouver Unitarian Church.
Don't Make a Wave was an ad hoc committee, endorsed by the
Sierra Club, the United Church of Canada, the B.C. Federation of
Labour, the Canadian Voice of Women, and other peace and ecology
Hunter, Metcalfe, Cummings, Bruce, and Marining attended the
Don't Make a Wave meetings, chaired by Irving Stowe. 'These
meetings were marathons,' recalls Hunter, 'lasting 6 or 7 hours,
featuring long, philosophical diatribes, and often going nowhere.
We wanted to do something significant, but we were trying to
operate by consensus. We went around in circles for months.' Marie
Bohlen, inspired by the Quaker boat the Golden Rule, suggested to
Jim one morning over coffee that someone should 'just sail a boat
up there and confront the bomb.' Moments later, in one of the
synchronous events that would characterize the evolution of
Greenpeace, a Vancouver Sun reporter phoned for an update on the
Sierra Club's plans to protest the bomb. 'Before I knew it,'
recalls Jim Bohlen, 'I was telling them we were sailing a boat into
the test zone.'
The next day, the Sun ran the story, but the Sierra Club had not
officially ratified the action, so at the next Don't Make a Wave
meeting, the ad hoc group adopted the plan. Typical of those days,
the anti-war crowd parted with the V-sign, saying 'peace.' A quiet
23-year-old Canadian carpenter, union organizer, and ecologist,
Bill Darnell, who rarely spoke at the meetings, added sheepishly
'Make it a green peace.'
'The term had a nice ring to it,' Hunter recalls. 'It worked
better in a headline than The Don't Make a Wave Committee. We
decided to find a boat and call it Greenpeace.'
Marie's son Paul Nonnast designed a button with the ecology
symbol above, the peace symbol below, and the word GREENPEACE in
the middle. The figures were in green (for ecology) on a background
of yellow (for sunlight). The buttons sold for $2.00. Stowe managed
the money, raising additional funds from U.S. Quaker groups and the
Sierra Club. He organized a benefit concert with Joni Mitchell,
James Taylor, anti-war folk singer Phil Ochs, and B.C. rock band
Chilliwack. The event netted $17,000.
Bohlen and lawyer Paul Cote searched the Vancouver docks for
almost a year until one day on a Fraser River wharf they met one of
the more rugged fisherman on the west coast, Captain John C.
Cormack. Other skippers had laughed them off, but Cormack was
intrigued by the challenge. Don't Make a Wave chartered Cormack's
80-foot halibut seiner, the Phyllis Cormack, and on September 15,
1971 the Phyllis Cormack, renamed Greenpeace, set out from
Vancouver. 'It was an all-male crew,' Hunter recalls, 'which would
never happen in Greenpeace today, but Captain Cormack did not allow
'fraternizing' on board. Marie Bohlen could have gone because she
was married to Jim but she declined. Irving Stowe also declined,
which surprised me because he was supposedly our leader.' The crew
vowed to make policy decisions by consensus although Bohlen was the
purser and official representative of Don't Make a Wave.
Dr. Lyle Thurston was the crew medic. Thurston had met Hunter
when they served together on the board of the Window Pane Society,
providing medical services for Vancouver young people who had
overdosed on drugs. Thurston lived in a North Vancouver commune
with lawyer Davie Gibbons, Dr. Myron McDonald, and his wife Bobbie,
all of whom supported the voyage and would play key roles in the
evolution of Greenpeace.
Captain Cormack and engineer Dave Birmingham ran the ship.
Hunter, Metcalfe, Cummings, and photographer Robert Keziere were
the on-board media. Keziere, a chemistry student, wrote an
exhaustive analysis of the reasons Canadians should be concerned
about the bomb, covering the tidal wave threat, ecological impact
in the Aleutians, and the problem of containing radioactivity.
Terry Simmons and Bill Darnell represented the Sierra Club. Patrick
Moore, graduate student at the University of British Columbia, was
the ecologist. Richard Fineberg was a last minute addition,
suspected by some of being from the CIA. 'He wasn't CIA,' says
Metcalfe. 'He was just a weird academic who didn't quite fit
These twelve souls headed off across the Gulf of Alaska for
Amchitka Island, making landfall on Akutan Island on September 26.
The Greenpeace was immediately seized by the U.S. Coast Guard for
landing without permission and escorted back to Sand Point, Alaska,
where they paid a fine and were released. The bomb test was then
postponed until November, but the boat charter with Captain Cormack
ran out at the end of October.
'We found out in Sand Point,' recalls Metcalfe, 'that the voyage
was getting media attention in Canada and the U.S. Demonstrations
had occurred in every major Canadian city.' Twenty members of the
Coast Guard vessel Confidence, which seized the Greenpeace boat,
signed a letter saying '? what you are doing is for the good of all
mankind.' The protestors sensed that they were having an impact,
but there was a fierce battle among the crew. Hunter wanted to
continue on to Amchitka, while Bohlen and Metcalfe felt they had
done their job and should head home. Bohlen took charge and
instructed Cormack to head for Vancouver. At Kodiak Fineberg left
the boat and Rod Marining joined. In the meantime, the Don't Make A
Wave Committee chartered a larger, faster Canadian minesweeper,
renamed Greenpeace Too. The two boats met in Union Bay, B.C. where,
Simmons, Cummings, Marining, and Birmingham joined the second boat,
headed for Amchitka.
'During the voyage,' Hunter remembers, 'Metcalfe, Bohlen, and I
discussed replacing Irving Stowe as the leader. But Stowe had
control of Don't Make a Wave, so I suggested we start a new
organization called Greenpeace.' When they returned, Hunter, Moore,
and Bruce founded The Whole Earth Church, using the Greenpeace
emblem and Moore's now famous line from the voyage, 'A flower is
your brother.' The Whole Earth Church espoused that 'all forms of
life are inter-related. Any form of life which goes against the
natural laws of interdependency has fallen from the State of Grace
known as ecological harmony.' Members of the Church were asked to
'assume their rightful role as Custodians of the Earth.'
It was during this voyage that Hunter read Warriors of the
Rainbow by William Willoya and Vinson Brown, which recounts the
Cree Indian prophecy that one day, when the earth was poisoned by
humans, a group of people from all nations would band together to
defend nature. 'Well, this is us, I thought right away,' Hunter
remembers. 'We're the Warriors of the Rainbow.'
Bohlen convinced Cote to vote with him to remove Irving Stowe as
chairman of Don't Make a Wave. The organization officially became
the 'Greenpeace Foundation' on May 4, 1972. 'Foundation' was
suggested by Hunter in reference to Issac Assimov's futuristic
Foundation Trilogy, in which a 'Foundation' takes responsibility
for ushering the galaxy through the dark ages into an enlightened
age. Greenpeace installed Metcalfe as the first chairman.
Metcalfe recalls, 'In the spring of 1972 the group scattered. I
was battling with Canadian Minister for External Affairs Mitchell
Sharp to get the bomb on the UN agenda in Stockholm when France
announced a nuclear test for Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. I
woke up at 3am and couldn't stop thinking about it. I turned to my
wife Dorothy, and said, 'We're going.' Rather than release the news
in Vancouver, where it would have died, I used a simple media
trick. I released the story in Australia and New Zealand where the
French tests were big news. I sent a telegram that Greenpeace was
coming down to protest the French nuclear-bomb test. By that
afternoon all the Vancouver media had picked it up off the wire
services. The gauntlet was down, but we still had to find a
Metcalfe placed newspaper ads in Australia and New Zealand,
seeking a sailor with a boat, who would sail to Mururoa. He
received over 150 offers, including a phone call from 40-year-old
Canadian David McTaggart, in Auckland. McTaggart's 38-foot ketch,
Vega, would become 'Greenpeace III.' In April, Metcalfe flew to
Auckland and he and McTaggart set out for Mururoa with navigator
Nigel Ingram, British seaman Roger Haddleton, and Australian Grant
McTaggart, the tenacious seaman, and Metcalfe, the master of
media, soon clashed over leadership of the campaign. McTaggart put
into Rarotonga where Metcalfe and Haddleton left the boat. Metcalfe
met his wife, Dorothy, and went to Paris, where they were met by
Greenpeace campaigners Patrick Moore, Lyle Thurston, and Rod
Marining. They organized media coverage and demonstrations until
the Metcalfes were arrested and deported. Ben and Dorothy traveled
to Rome, where the Pope blessed the Greenpeace flag. In France
Marining issued a press release saying, 'France is behaving like
invaders from Mars, shooting nuclear missiles at Spaceship Earth!'
He was grabbed off the street and beaten by French agents who
accused him of being 'a Red.'
'No,' said Marining pleading for his life, 'I'm a Green!'
Marining's pronouncement, picked up later by Canadian media, was
perhaps the first public usage of 'Green' as a political
constituency. The 'Ecology Party' was formed in the United Kingdom
shortly thereafter, but the world's first 'Green Party,' Die
Grunen, was born in Germany a decade later, in 1982. Marining's
statement was the first strong kick of the green fetus, struggling
to be born in European politics.
McTaggart sailed the Vega into the nuclear bomb test zone and
maintained a position 3 miles downwind from Mururoa. The frustrated
French navy rammed the Vega, towed her into Mururoa, made minimal
repairs, and towed her back out to sea. The Vega hobbled back to
Rarotonga for repairs and the French set off their bombs. McTaggart
accused the French of high seas piracy and went to France to pursue
his case in the courts. When he arrived, he found that his voyage
had inspired a groundswell of support.
The War Resisters International and Peace News groups from
London organized a London to Paris peace march, which was stopped
at the French border by French Riot police. A few of the activists,
some of them carrying a 'Greenpeace' banner, slipped into Paris and
held demonstrations at the Eiffel Tower and at Notre Dame
cathedral. McTaggart received a letter of support from Canadian
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He returned to Mururoa the following
year and was severely beaten by French sailors.
McTaggart was killed in an automobile accident in Italy on March
23, 2001. Two months before he died, he commented on his campaign
against the bomb: 'At first, the issue for me was that France had
the nerve to cordon off 100,000 square miles of ocean. That was an
affront to every freedom-loving sailor. The bomb was, of course, an
affront to the entire planet. But when the French rammed the Vega,
boarded the Vega and beat me up the following year, then blew up
the Rainbow Warrior killing Fernando [Pereira, July 1985], well I
made a personal vow each time that they would not get away with it.
McTaggart had grown up in the wealthy, Southwest Marine Drive
neighborhood of Vancouver, was a Canadian badminton champion at 17,
and a successful entrepreneur. He brought an athlete's toughness
and a businessman's determination to the peace movement.
'Greenpeace matured with McTaggart,' says Hunter, 'because he gave
Greenpeace a hard edge that balanced the soft, cuddly stuff.'
We Are Whales
As McTaggart fought France in their own courts, Dr. Paul Spong
started appearing among the Greenpeace crowd at the Cecil pub in
Vancouver, talking about the intelligence of whales and why they
should be saved. Some of the anti-war activists thought this was a
distraction from more important matters.
Spong, a brain scientist from New Zealand, had been hired in
1967 by Dr. Patrick McGeer of the Neurological Laboratory at the
University of British Columbia. Part of his assignment was to
perform behavioral research on the Vancouver Aquarium's first
captive Orcinus orca, or killer whale, Skana. Spong's subsequent
experiences with Skana convinced him that whales were highly
intelligent beings that should not be held in captivity nor hunted
by whalers. 'It took a lot to push me out of my comfortable,
scientific corner,' recalls Spong, 'and it was Skana who did
Spong was testing Skana's visual acuity when the whale suddenly
failed all the tests she had already easily learned. Her scores
dropped from nearly 100% to zero. Paul concluded that she was
failing on purpose, as a sort of protest. This convinced him that
she was an intelligent and self-aware creature. He got into the
habit of playing flute to her late at night. Skana tested Paul's
trust by raking her 3-inch teeth across his feet as he dangled them
in the water. Once he learned to trust her and keep his feet in the
water she stopped. Paul almost felt that she was the trainer and he
was the student.
When he told McGeer and Aquarium Director Dr. Murray Newman that
Skana should be set free, he was fired. He then moved to Hanson
Island, 200-kilometers north of Vancouver, and established an orca
observation post in the wild, where he lives and studies whales to
this day. 'I later met Farley Mowat,' recalls Spong, 'and he
convinced me to get involved in the whaling issue. When Greenpeace
started to have an impact on nuclear weapons, I called Hunter.'
Spong took Hunter to the Aquarium to meet Skana and he convinced
Hunter that he could safely place his head inside Skana's mouth. 'I
could feel her teeth on the back of my neck,' Hunter recalls. 'I
was totally at her mercy. She could have snapped my neck like a
matchstick but her touch was as gentle as a kiss. I had the feeling
that Skana found out more about me than I did about her. It was as
if she looked inside my mind and played with my courage and my
fear. I was convinced that Paul was right about her, and about
whales in general.'
In November, 1974 Hunter brought Spong to my rented suite on 1st
Avenue in Kitsilano, saying they needed a photograph. Spong carried
a large cardboard box. While Hunter and I talked, Spong lifted two
damp, grey brains from the box and set them triumphantly on my
kitchen table. The human brain I recognized, the other brain was
twice the size. 'I want a picture of these for the Whale Show,'
Spong said. As I set up the photograph, Paul explained to me that
the Orca brain was not only twice the size of the human brain, but
the cerebral cortex was four-times as big and had many more
convolutions, or folds. 'This brain evolved for a reason,' he
argued. 'The portion of the brain that drives the motor functions
of the body is about the same size in a monkey, a human, or a
whale. All the rest of this,' said Spong, passing his hand over the
cerebral cortex, 'is for thinking, data processing, and
communicating. These creatures have more analytical brain power
than we have!'
Spong still had to prevail on the rest of Greenpeace. 'My role
in Greenpeace was conspiratorial from the beginning,' he recalls.
'I had to convince them that whales were worth getting involved
with. Then we had to create a sense of public outrage over what was
happening to whales, and finally figure out how to make this plan
of shielding the whales with our bodies work. It was pretty much
all stealth and subterfuge, most of it in our heads lubricated by
25-cent beers at the Cecil.'
'What a brilliant idea it was,' recalls Dr. Myron Macdonald, who
had been involved with Greenpeace from the beginning. 'I remember
when it first came up at a meeting at Hamish's home. Hunter laid
out the entire plan of placing humans between the whalers and the
whales and capturing this on film in real time for the media. Many
of us thought that since the French were still conducting
atmospheric nuclear explosions and there was a global oil crisis,
we had more important things to worry about. But Hunter insisted
that this would make Greenpeace a truly ecological organization. He
carried the day.'
John Cormack made the Phyllis Cormack available for the
campaign. I took a leave of absence from my job at the North Shore
News to be the photographer. Our plan was to use high-speed rubber
Zodiacs to place ourselves between the whales and the whaling
boats. Hunter got the idea to use Zodiacs from seeing pictures of
French sailors boarding the Vega near Mururoa on McTaggart's second
Voyage in 1973. McTaggart had been savagely beaten and partially
blinded by the French, but the incident had been captured on film
by Ann-Marie Horne. 'When I saw the photographs of the French
Zodiacs,' Hunter remembers, 'I knew what we needed to confront the
Paul Watson was the leftists radical of the group, known for his
red headband and Maoist sympathies. He had been to Wounded Knee to
help the Lakota Indians and had been at the Douglas Border closing
in 1969. He was seditious and fearless. Watson helped bridge the
gap between the hardcore political activists and ecologists when he
joined the whale campaign. 'I met with Bob [Hunter] in the Alkazar
Pub in November of '74,' recalls Watson. 'He told me the plan, and
I agreed to pilot a Zodiac in front of the whaling ships.'
In his book Storming of the Mind, Hunter had introduced the
concept of a 'mind bomb,' an electronic image sent around the world
to 'explode in the collective consciousness.' Our Mind Bomb in this
case was to reverse the Moby Dick image of brave little men in tiny
boats hunting leviathan and replace it with the reality of modern
whaling: huge mechanical factory ships and exploding harpoons
hunting down the last remnants of the peaceful, intelligent whales.
Our mission was to plant this image into the collective
consciousness. We never doubted that we could do it, but the
logistics were daunting. We had to figure out how to find the
whaling fleets, not an island, but a moving target on a huge ocean.
It was Spong who came up with a plan.
The defining characteristic of Greenpeace in the 1970s was that
underneath the radicalism and wild street theater, each member
contributed an essential skill or experience. Bohlen and Stowe were
accomplished political organizers. John Cormack and David McTaggart
were consummate sea captains, and McTaggart was a tenacious
political advocate. Hamish had the lawyer's grasp of the big
picture, and could express it in few words. Patrick Moore
understood ecology and could debate anyone the governments or
companies threw at us. The lawyers and the medics were all
professionals. Hunter, Metcalfe, and Cummings were inspired
journalists. 'Simply speaking,' says Metcalfe, 'We knew how to give
a story pizzazz and keep it alive in the media. We were the
Bobbie Innes, who later married Bob Hunter and who ran the
Greenpeace office after 1974, was a Project Manager for Rogers
Cable television company. 'Every day I was directing hundreds of
people in their job flow,' she says now, 'so organizing a bunch of
hippies was no big deal.'
Bill Gannon, chief accountant for Daon Development Corporation,
the largest developer in Vancouver, was consulting with the North
Shore News, when I met him. In addition to being an expert
accountant, Gannon was an accomplished bass player. We had formed a
band that rehearsed once a week. When I explained to Gannon the
financial problems that Greenpeace faced, he began advising us.
Gannon later fashioned a credible financial plan and reporting
system for the fledgling organization.
And there were stalwart soldiers willing to risk it all, Bill
Darnell, Terry Simmons, Bree Drummond, Rod Marining, Carlie
Trueman, Paul Watson, and Walrus Oakenbough. 'Today we would say it
was right-brain/left-brain balanced,' says Marining. 'In those days
we referred to the Mystics and the Mechanics. But in fact, there
was a little of the mystic and mechanic in everyone.'
Spong was a serious scientist and with all his quixotic ideas
and mystic communications with whales, he was rigorous and
observant. His mind had simply been opened by Skana to accept a
much bigger picture of consciousness. 'Change,' Spong says, and
this from experience, 'can happen at the speed of thought.'
Spong inspired us to put our ecology on the line. Did we believe
in the rights of a whale to live in peace? Then we would risk our
lives for them. Spong was cautious with his language, but his
enthusiasm was contagious. He implied that Skana had imparted to
him a message for us. There were doubters, but we all listened, and
the message was this: Consciousness is bigger than you, bigger than
the human race. Consciousness is a quality of nature. Spong
inspired us to look beyond the purely human realm, to see ecology
from a new perspective.
Spong's plan for finding the whalers was to visit the
International Whaling Commission records office in Sandefjord,
Norway, to pose as himself, a respected research scientist looking
for data on whale populations. That data, he correctly surmised
would be collected by whaling boats. In January Spong, his wife
Linda, and their son Yashi, departed for Iceland and Norway to find
records of previous whaling routes. The IWC at that time was
controlled by the whaling nations of Japan, Soviet Union, Norway,
and Iceland, and backed by Canada and the U.S. Spong was entering
the lair of our adversary to steal the map that would spell their
In the meantime, we had to secure the Zodiacs and get the
Phyllis Cormack, now Greenpeace V, off the dock in Vancouver, but
we were broke. Then one night at a Greenpeace meeting, local mystic
poet, Henry Payne, showed up, recited a long, shamanistic ode about
our spiritual kinship with 'every creeping, crawling thing' and
then donated to the cause five acres of land in Langley. Eyes
widened and heads twisted. Is this vagabond poet with an eagle
feather for real? Indeed, our lawyers confirmed the land transfer
and Bobbie Innes came up with the idea of having a lottery for the
land rather than selling it outright. We raised twice the land
value in lottery ticket sales, 20,000 tickets at $2 each, and the
voyage was on.
Hunter was the great attracter and includer. He led the meetings
and encouraged everyone to contribute. People showed up at meetings
to tell us about a space alien connection with whales or warn us
about CIA infiltration. Hunter was always gracious, but he also
moved the discussion along toward the tasks at hand. He was a
master of delegation, and the numbers swelled in what we called
'The Great Whale Conspiracy.'
In March of 1975, Greenpeace rented its first public office at
2007 West Fourth Avenue, right in the middle of Vancouver's Hippie
Row. It was not much of an office, no filing cabinets or desks,
just a few shelves and tables, and two phones. Julie McMaster, an
older woman with clerical experience showed up to offer her
services as our office manager. She set up some basic office
systems to help us keep track of our phone messages and meetings.
More than that, she became our surrogate mother, reminding us to
clean up after ourselves and keep our appointments. Our gear began
to collect in the corners: outboard motors, sound equipment,
radios, and provisions for the voyage.
The old Cecil hangout was transformed into a strip bar, so we
moved our beer-inspired strategy meetings to the Bimini pub across
the street from the new office. At an upstairs table near the
window we hatched our plans to find and confront the whalers. From
the window, we could look across the street to the Greenpeace
office window. Julie would come to the window and yell across the
street when an important phone call came through. The corner of the
pub became a center of activity, with activists, journalists, and
sailors coming and going constantly.
In the meantime, Spong was in Norway at the Bureau of
International Whaling Statistics, where he'd convinced the director
to let him peruse the files. Ostensibly, he was researching the
habits of sperm whales, but once he found what he was looking for,
his heart skipped a beat. There in a file before him were the
dates, longitudes, latitudes, and kill numbers for the entire
Soviet and Japanese whaling fleets. He copied it all down in his
notebook, went back to his hotel, and called Hunter.
'We believed then, and I still believe,' says Hunter, 'that we
were blessed by higher powers. The Pope, the Buddhist Karmapa, and
the Kwakuitl Indians had all blessed our flag. We fully believed by
then that we were fulfilling the Warriors of the Rainbow prophecy.'
The Catholics prayed, the Buddhists meditated, the pagans chanted,
but we all believed we were on a spiritual mission. We expected
miracles, and we watched for signs. One day a bearded street
musician showed up claiming to be 'an animal affinity expert.' His
name was Melville Gregory. Hunter gasped. Herman Melville, of
course, had written Moby Dick and Gregory Peck played Captain Ahab
in the movie! 'Hunter figured it was a sign,' remembers Gregory,
'so I became the crew musician. We got some underwater speakers and
microphones to communicate with the whales.' Gregory wrote an
anthem for the group, 'We Are Whales,' which was sung at every
'It was magic,' recalls Hunter. 'Everything and everyone we
needed to pull this off just appeared, like Mel, out of the ether.
I was literally sitting in my office trying to figure out how to
make a film of the voyage when Michael Chechik phoned.' The young
film producer, who now runs Omni Films in Vancouver, arranged for
cameramen Fred Easton and Ron Precious to document the voyage.
Lawyer Hamish Bruce abandoned his law practice to work full time
as he witnessed the manifestation of his Green Panthers vision.
Bruce was the spiritual leader, chief of the 'Mystics.' He rarely
spoke, but when he did, everyone shut up and listened. The head
'Mechanic' was electrician Al Hewitt, engineer and radio operator
for the voyage, who fashioned a homemade radio-directional finder
for tracking Soviet ships. Environmentalist writer and researcher
Walrus Oakenbough was crew cook. In anticipation of contact with
the whalers, Taeko Miwa and George Korotva were our Japanese and
Russian interpreters. Dr. Myron MacDonald was our medic. Now a
Ph.D. in ecology, Patrick Moore was our scientist. Carlie Trueman
was the Zodiac expert, and Paul Watson was a Zodiac operator.
Experimental musician Will Jackson came up from San Francisco with
his Moog synthesizer to support the whale communications. Hunter
was our campaign leader, and Cormack was our captain.
Bobbie Innes and Rod Marining stayed in Vancouver to run the
office and media relations. On April 27, 1975 The Great Whale
Conspiracy headed out of Vancouver's English Bay, flying the UN and
Canadian flags, a Kwakiutl image of a whale on our sail, and a flag
of the earth snapping in the breeze at the top of the mast. 'We Are
Whales' blared from the speakers with Mel playing guitar on the
hatch cover, 23,000 people waving goodbye from the shoreline, and
Hamish Bruce standing at the bow, long golden hair whirling in the
gusts of wind. We headed up the west coast of Vancouver Island to
Winter Harbour, and then out to sea to find whales and whalers.
We tested our Zodiac skills when we came across wild orcas near
Bella Bella in the inside passage. In mid-May we met migrating grey
whales in Wickininish Bay near the remote fishing village of
Ucleulet. Jazz musician Paul Winter joined us as we stayed with the
whales, played music to them, and listened for their response. They
seemed less interested in us than we were in them, but the whales
were clearly curious, bobbing about our little inflatable boats,
gazing at us with enormous eyes. The experience inspired us and
provided a story for the media. The information from Spong in
Norway suggested that the whalers would be at the Mendocino Ridge
sea mounts in June, some 40 miles off the coast of California. The
time had come, and we headed south, listening for Russian or
Japanese voices on the marine radio.
On the morning of midsummer's day the Phyllis Cormack, rocked
pacifically over the Mendocino sea mounts, where the ocean floor
rises and sperm whales feed. We twice heard Russian voices on the
radio and fixed their position with Hewitt's crude RDF only to
discover that they were Soviet draggers. The ocean seemed
unspeakably vast. The sea mounts run for hundreds of miles. We
drifted to save fuel, listened, and watched for whales from high in
Halfway around the world, Spong was in London for the
International Whaling Commission meetings, working with Friends of
the Earth to pressure the Commission for a ban on pelagic whaling.
Our plan was to confront the whalers during the meetings and
thereby shine an international spotlight on the whale hunt. But by
June 25, two days before the end of the meetings, Spong was frantic
because he had not heard from us in days.
Out in the Pacific our radio had mysteriously died. We could
hear, but could not transmit. We could not reach Marining in
Vancouver nor Spong in London. No one knew where we were or what we
were doing. Unless we actually confronted the whalers as we had
vowed, we had little hope of making the London newspapers and
influencing the IWC vote. The whole campaign was looking like a
failure. We were frustrated, tired, and low on food and water.
Hewitt had wired a speaker into the galley where we sat for hours,
monitoring the radio. On the evening of June 26 we distinctly heard
Russian voices. Korotva thought he could hear the word 'Vostok,'
the name of one of the Soviet ships on Spong's list. Hewitt fixed
the direction, and we headed southeast after them.
Cormack slept about 4 hours each night. His usual routine was to
go to bed at midnight and rise at 4:00am. At midnight, Cormack
turned the wheel over to Mel Gregory with instructions to keep our
heading at SSE. When Gregory took the wheel the moon was dead ahead
and the moon's reflection was a yellow trail before him.
Disregarding the compass, Gregory simply headed into the moonbeam.
The moon, of course, moves across the sky, so when Cormack rose to
check on him, we were heading 90-degrees west of our intended
course. An enraged Cormack threw Gregory out of the wheelhouse,
calling him a 'hippie farmer.'
Russian transmissions continued throughout the morning until, at
about 10:00, they went silent. Cormack ordered a steady course
toward the last RDF reading. An unrepentant Gregory awoke around
noon as a brilliant rainbow appeared off the starboard bow.
Figuring this was another sign, Mel made his way to the wheelhouse,
calmly relieved Fred Easton of the wheel, and made for the rainbow.
Whether it was magic, good karma, or just good luck, thirty minutes
later Soviet whaling boats dotted the horizon. To add to the
miracle, our radio suddenly began to work and Bob was able to call
Marining in Vancouver, who called Spong in London on the final day
of the IWC meeting. The chase was on.
Moore and cameraman Easton sped off in one Zodiac, while Watson
and I jumped in the second. As we approached the colossal factory
ship Vostok, we gagged at the stench. Harpoon boats trailed behind
off-loading sperm whale carcasses. High on the main deck of the
700-foot behemoth, huge cranes ripped massive strips of blubber
from the whales. Just above the water line, a red torrent of blood
pour from a six-inch pipe. Sharks cut through the red water that
trailed behind the factory ship. We were horrified.
The Soviet whalers seemed completely confused by this colorful
boatload of hippies flying a flag with the earth on it, playing
rock music, and zipping around them in little Zodiacs. The workers
waved and smiled from decks and the officers glared from the
bridge. The first time we got close enough to the whalers to talk
to them, a deckhand leaned over the railing and shouted in English,
'Do you have LSD?'
We picked out a departing harpoon boat, the Vlastny, and
followed it. It was soon pursuing a pod of sperm whales. Hunter
leapt into a Zodiac with Watson, Korotva took Fred Easton, and I
went with Patrick Moore. Hunter and Watson tried to position
themselves between the harpoon boat and the frantic whales, but
Watson's outboard sputtered to a stop and they were thrown aside by
the bow of the killer boat. Korotva pulled up, traded passengers
with Watson, and sped off with Hunter. They positioned themselves
directly in front of the massive cannon, shielding the whales. When
they dropped into a trough, however, the cannon fired and the
harpoon flew over their heads and exploded in the side of a whale.
'The harpoon cable slashed down beside us,' recalls Hunter, 'nearly
ripping us in two.' Easton turned to me with thumbs up. He had
captured the entire episode on film.
The story was carried in every London newspaper on the final day
of the IWC. Reporters swarmed the Soviet and Japanese delegates,
who were completely caught off guard. 'The fight to save the whales
changed on that day,' remembers Spong. 'They could no longer ignore
'It was the ultimate Mind Bomb,' says Hunter now. 'The mythology
about Moby Dick had dominated the public perception of whales. That
perception changed forever.'
'Old Greenpeacers still argue,' says Marining, 'about whether
the Mystics or the Mechanics found the whalers. Was it Mel
following the rainbow, Hewitt's RDF, or Spong's spy work? It was
everything, the Mystics and the Mechanics, divine intervention,
good planning, good seamanship, and good karma all rolled into
We followed the Soviet ships for two days, but they stopped
hunting whales and ran south faster than we could follow. We turned
northeast for the coast. In San Francisco, I was picked up from the
boat by two AP photographers and we had the photographs on the wire
services within an hour. The film footage was shown on Walter
Cronkite's evening news broadcast. The local bars gave us free
drinks. Environmentalists, school children, rock stars, and movie
agents came to the boat. 'Ben Metcalfe had warned me: 'Fear
success,'' recalls Hunter. 'Now I knew what he meant. We had
planned to make a global media hit for the whales, and we had
succeeded, but we had not planned what to do afterwards.'
The Eco Navy
With McTaggart in France, Spong in London, and the media frenzy
in San Francisco, Greenpeace had emerged onto the world stage. Back
in Vancouver, the two phones in the little office rang incessantly.
Upon our returned, we were $40,000 in debt and half the calls were
from local suppliers, camera stores and marine supply shops,
wondering when they were going to get paid.
Bill Gannon left his job at Daon Development, opened a private
practice, and became our accountant. Gannon guided us in creating a
cash-flow projection based on all the campaign and fundraising
ideas we had. 'Do the right thing,' he encouraged us, 'and the
money will come. It's the first law of money.' Gannon, who still
has a private accounting practice in Vancouver, recalls, 'We
drafted a budget of $300,000 for the year, to do everything we
wanted to do. We put 20,000 names from the first lottery onto a
mailing list, then walked into the Royal Bank in Vancouver with a
cash-flow plan. The bank gave us a $75,000 line of credit, and
another $75,000 secured by personal guarantees. People may not
realize that the Royal Bank of Canada helped finance the
Watson, Walrus, Hunter, and I published the first issue of the
Greenpeace Chronicles newspaper out of the old Georgia Straight
office in the fall of 1975, covering our voyage and other
environmental stories. Watson organized a campaign to protest the
Canadian Harp seal hunt in Labrador. We were sending money to
McTaggart in Paris and we were making plans for a second voyage in
the summer of 1976 to confront the Japanese whalers, this time with
a converted mine sweeper ('Mind Sweeper' we called it) the James
The money was spent faster than it came in, but magic, it
seemed, was still with us. Gannon recalls, 'At one point our
bookkeeper stopped keeping the bank balance, and started handing
out blank checks to Watson for his seal campaign. By the time we
launched the James Bay in June we were overdrawn at the bank.'
Gannon oversaw ticket sales for a send-off benefit concert with
Country Joe MacDonald at the Jericho Beach site of the UN Habitat
Forum Conference, held in Vancouver that summer. 'After the boat
left, I went back to the office and took a call from our bank
manager who informed me we were $27,000 overdrawn. 'It's okay,' I
told him, there was a Brinks truck on the way with a cash deposit
from the concert. The deposit was for $27,200.'
The following year, 1977, there were some 15 to 20 Greenpeace
groups around the world. Watson led a second seal campaign to
Labrador, this time accompanied by actress Bridget Bardot. We were
still sending money to McTaggart in France and we prepared the
James Bay, Greenpeace VII, for another voyage against the whalers.
Spong went to Hawaii to launch a second anti-whaling boat from
there. We were broke again and needed money for diesel fuel and for
a direct mail funding drive.
'I asked the bank for a $15,000 extension on our line but they
refused,' Gannon recalls. 'I went into the office to get some
graphs I had prepared, and Julie McMaster handed me a brown paper
bag that had arrived in the mail. It was filled with U.S. dollars.'
Inside the bag was a note from a hermit in a mountain cabin in
Washington. 'I'm dying of cancer,' the note said. 'This is all the
money I have. I know you can use it. Thanks for what you are
doing.' Gannon took the bag into the bank. 'When I walked in, the
manager just shook his head and said 'No way.' I emptied the brown
bag out on his desk and asked if he could have a teller count it.
It came to $15,500.'
The French finally backed down from their atmospheric nuclear
tests in the South Pacific as the Americans had done at Amchitka.
Japan and the Soviet Union were isolated at the IWC, and we
eventually won a moratorium on pelagic whaling. The Canadian seal
hunt was halted. We launched campaigns against supertankers and
trophy hunting in BC, against nuclear power plants in Canada and
the U.S., and against Trident nuclear submarines in Washington
State. A fellow we'd never heard of, Joe Healy, climbed the Chicago
Sears Tower and hung a 'Greenpeace' banner protesting the whale
hunt. The Greenpeace office in London went after the Icelandic
whalers with a boat named Rainbow Warrior, and we were working with
the Lakota and Hopi Indians in the U.S. in their land claims
Greenpeace groups were forming everywhere, in England, France,
Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the U.S. and
Canada. By 1979 the consolidated groups were raising over $12
million, and rivalries, splinter groups, and outright frauds were
fracturing the loosely-knit organization. Gannon and our lawyers
put together an affiliation contract, which some groups signed and
some groups refused to sign. Internal tensions were high.
'In 1978 and early 1979 there were two meetings in Vancouver to
try to develop a constitution for GP internationally,' recalls
Patrick Moore, who was Greenpeace Foundation president at the time.
'The second meeting ended with the San Francisco group walking out.
We had to file a lawsuit against them to protect the Greenpeace
McTaggart came to Vancouver in the summer of 1979 with a
proposal to settle the turmoil. I spoke with him one night at my
home in Kitsilano. 'Look,' he said, 'this thing can't be run out of
Vancouver anymore. The headquarters should be in Europe. The
European groups are well organized. There's a million dollars
sitting in a bank account in Amsterdam. You know the scams that
hucksters are perpetrating under the name. The U.S. wants autonomy
from the Canadian group. The only solution is a Greenpeace
International, with each country getting a vote.' There was some
resistance in Vancouver, particularly with dividing Greenpeace
along national boundaries, but in the end, Hunter backed the
McTaggart plan, appealed to reason, and swung the vote.
'McTaggart was the only one who could pull all the groups
together,' Hunter recalls, 'because he was just a smarter
politician than anyone else, he had campaign credibility, and
business savvy.' On October 14, 1979 we signed an agreement in
lawyer Davie Gibbons' Vancouver office establishing Greenpeace
International. In November we met in Amsterdam with Greenpeace
representatives from Canada, the U.S., France, Germany, Denmark,
U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. McTaggart was
elected as the Executive Director. Throughout the meetings, The
Rainbow Warrior sat majestically in Amsterdam Harbour, rainbow
The Eco-Navy we had dreamed of came to pass. The Dalai Lama,
visited the Rainbow Warrior at the Earth summit in Rio. 'It’s a
small boat,' he said, 'a little untidy. But it is a very powerful
symbol, and the spirit on board made my spirit stronger too.' From
Vancouver, we watched with some pride as the Warriors of the
Rainbow mythology manifested around the world. Through all the
craziness and wild visions, something profound had been seeded into
the culture and was now blossoming on every continent.
Irving Stowe had passed away early, in 1974, of cancer. Then Bob
Cummings passed away in 1987, Bree Drummond in 1997, and David
McTaggart was killed in the car accident in Italy on March 23,
2001. Although retired from Greenpeace, it is typical of McTaggart
that two weeks before he died he was in Amsterdam lobbying
Greenpeace to join his campaign to establish a marine protection
zone in the Caribbean. A few months before he died, McTaggart
warned, 'It's an eternal struggle. We haven't really won anything.
Every victory we've achieved could be rolled back in the blink of
an eye. The environmental movement isn't something that can ever
Captain John Cormack died peacefully on November 17, 1988, at
the age of 76 in Vancouver. 'Captain John,' recalls Hunter 'was the
only fisherman on the westcoast who was willing to take a motley
group of protestors up to the Aleutian Islands in 1971 to protest
the American nuclear test at Amchitka Island. He skippered the
first two whale voyages. Without Cormack, there's no
Jim and Marie Bohlen left the group in 1972 when Metcalfe took
over. In 1974, they moved to Denman Island, and founded an
energy-efficient, organic farm they called 'Greenpeace Farm.' Jim
wrote The New Pioneer's Handbook about low-energy living. In 1983
Patrick Moore, then president of Greenpeace Canada, brought Bohlen
back onto the board of directors to head the group's anti-nuclear
campaigns. Bohlen joined the board of the Green Party of Canada,
and in 1992 attended the UN Environment Conference in Rio. 'As the
natural environment inexorably deteriorates,' Bohlen says today,
'perhaps that will prompt nation-state governments to relinquish
some of their sovereignty and accept global green governance.'
Patrick Moore is now a private environmental consultant for
forestry and other resource companies. He has been critical of some
Greenpeace positions, and was seen by some environmentalists as a
turncoat. Hunter once called him 'The eco-Judas' in his newspaper
column, but has since softened and even apologized. In April 2000,
on the 25th Anniversary of the first Greenpeace whale campaign,
Hunter and Moore hugged in the kitchen of Pat and Eileen Moore's
Vancouver home, all grievances forgiven. Gaia Hypothesis author
James Lovelock has praised Moore's 'scientific
'By the mid-1980's,' says Moore, 'we had won over a majority of
the public in the industrialized democracies. Presidents and Prime
Ministers were talking about the environment on a daily basis. At
that time, I made the transition from confrontation to building
consensus. After all, when a majority of people agree with you it
is probably time to stop hitting them over the head and sit down
and talk to them about solutions.' Moore now tours the world,
speaking with governments and companies about environmental policy.
'The key points to a global environmental policy,' he says, 'are
renewable energy and material resources, humans learning to control
our population and urban sprawl voluntarily, and the protection of
forests, primarily from inefficient agricultural production, by far
the biggest cause of deforestation.'
Ben Metcalfe lives a reclusive life on Vancouver Island. He
spends his days, he says, 'looking after my dogs, fishing, reading,
and writing.' His advice to Greenpeace today is 'Be creative. Never
argue the numbers. Do your homework, yes, but don't get drawn into
debates that only benefit the perpetrators. Go after the owners of
the companies. Make them visible. Find out who's profiting from the
destruction of the earth and name them. Take their picture. Set up
outside their house. Believe me, their own children will reform
them faster than any deal you could cut. Remember, don't imitate
what went before. An image only works once.'
Dr. Lyle Thurston is retired, lives in Vancouver, and spends
time on Wickininish Island near the site of our first encounter
with grey whales. 'It just seemed natural to us at the time,'
recalls Thurston. 'We weren't trying to be pioneers. The earth
needed a constituency and defenders.' Dr. Myron MacDonald lives in
Vancouver and has a practice in North Vancouver. 'I'm involved in
the medical battle against osteoporosis and I'm active in
preventing this disorder globally.' Carlie Trueman is a British
Columbia magistrate. Fred Easton practices law in Nelson, B.C.
Michael Chechik and Ron Precious still make environmental
Mel Gregory runs an organization called the Jonah Project,
monitoring whaling activity, fighting for the release of captive
orcas, and experimenting with human/orca communication. Dr. Paul
Spong continues the work with live orcas that he started thirty
years go on Hanson Island. 'The best thing I can do for whales,'
says Spong now, 'is to learn things about them that will take
humans to a new level of relationship. We're still not there, and
whales are up against the wall again. I was upset with Greenpeace
for years because they abandoned whales while still making money
off them. Nevertheless, the world needs Greenpeace and I'm
encouraged by most of what I see.'
Hamish Bruce, the original Green Panther, left his law practice
to homestead with his family on remote Murrelle Island in Northern
British Columbia. Recently he's moved back to Vancouver and runs a
nursery and gardening business. 'The vision came to pass,' he says.
'It doesn't matter who gets credit for it. There were a lot of
people who contributed from day-one who never worried about getting
Linda Spong and Bill Gannon are married and live in Vancouver.
Linda is a ceramics artist and has produced a commercial recording
of orca sounds. Gannon helped McTaggart set up the financial
systems for Greenpeace International, founded a music software
company, and continues his private accounting practice.
Walrus Oakenbough , a.k.a. David Garrick, was an environmental
consultant for Canadian Member of Parliament Jim Fulton and now
works with First Nations to document cultural claims to forest
lands. He produced a book on culturally modified cedar trees for
the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, helping preserve thousands
of acres of old growth forest from logging.
Paul Watson left Greenpeace in 1977 to start his own group, The
Sea Shepherd Society, and has had bitter conflict with Greenpeace
ever since. In 1994 Watson was confronted by Greenpeace in Norway
after he rammed a Norwegian whaling boat. 'Greenpeace is not
opposed to whaling,' said Greenpeace Norway Chairman Leif Ryvarden.
'One must be allowed to harvest a renewable resource.'
'That infuriated me,' says Watson today. 'That was a denial of
everything Greenpeace stood for. However, there are many
campaigners within Greenpeace who are sympathetic to our Sea
Shepherd campaigns, and we receive useful information from them all
the time. I don't want to see the destruction of Greenpeace but I
have to kick the monster in the ass now and then to remind them
where they came from.'
Rod Marining is still active in forestry and other environmental
protests in British Columbia. In April 2001 he returned to the
U.S./Canada border with anti-globalization activists protesting the
FTTA Quebec City Summit. 'The young protesters were all milling
around with signs, and one of them asked me what they should do.
'Close the border,' I told him. They were concerned about the
police. 'Relax,' I said. 'We closed this border for two hours in
1969 to stop the atomic bomb tests. Let's see what you can do.'
They all huddled together to talk, then they walked out on the road
and sat down. They closed the border for six hours. Broke our
Bob and Bobbie Hunter moved to Toronto in 1988. Bobbie is a
Project Coordinator for Rogers Cablevision, designing and
overseeing construction projects. 'When we opened the first
Greenpeace office in Vancouver,' Bobbie recalls, 'no one was paid.
Our entire overhead was the $50 rent and the phone bill. Other than
that, every penny we raised went toward getting the Phyllis Cormack
out to confront the Russians. Greenpeace Germany just built a US$35
million office building. More power to them, but times have
Bob Hunter was hired by Toronto's Citytv as an Ecology
Specialist. He has remained active with Greenpeace as well as with
Watson's Sea Shepherd Society. His Storming of the Mind is
considered a media-activist's classic. After four books about
Greenpeace, he wrote Occupied Canada, Cry Wolf, On The Sky, and Red
Blood: One (Mostly) White Guy's Encounters with the Native World,
in which he recounts his discovery at his mother's deathbed that
her great grandfather had married a Huron woman.
'If anything,' says Hunter now, 'the ecology crisis is more
urgent and I would advocate even tougher environmental law. Let's
see the CIA, Mossad, M-I5, and UN Security Council put to work in
defense of biosphere diversity. I want to see the Coast Guard and
Navy out there saving whales and halting over-fishing at the point
of a cannon, if necessary. I want to see Mounties throwing loggers
in jail instead of treehuggers and wildlife being defended instead
of hunted, with heavy sentences and staggering fines and
zero-tolerance for eco-crimes. Greenpeace helped put ecology on the
consciousness map, but we have work still to do.'
Frank Zelko, a historian writing his doctoral dissertation on
Greenpeace at the University of Kansas, says 'Unlike Friends of the
Earth, for example, which sprung fully formed from the forehead of
David Brower, Greenpeace developed in a more evolutionary manner.
There was no single founder, but Hunter was significant because he
had the vision and the guts to take the organization in a new
direction once the anti-nuclear aspects wore thin. He made plenty
of mistakes along the way, but he also got many things right. He
was the archetypal hippie intellectual/activist but with a
knowledge of media and a commitment to ecology. People took a
liking to Bob and were willing to put their trust in him.'
'Greenpeace captured the public imagination because it resonated
with their own instinctive fears of extinction and hopes for
survival,' says Hunter. 'It was reality mythology.'
In the summer of 2000 Thilo Bode, then president of Greenpeace
International, invited Hunter to Europe to speak to the young
activists. 'They're just like we once were,' he observes proudly,
'sincere and dedicated. But the bureaucracy of Greenpeace is a
whole other matter. They showed me their 'Media Protocol Manual.'
My god! It was thicker than the Toronto phone book.' Hunter took
the media representatives out for a beer and shared with them some
of the media secrets of early Greenpeace. 'Chuck out the manuals,'
he told them. 'Think for yourselves. The media is not interested in
yesterday's hashed-over stories.' And he reminded them:
'In the beginning, there was no protocol.'
Rex Weyler was a director of the Greenpeace
Foundation and campaign photographer from 1974-1979. He was
publisher of the Greenpeace Chronicles magazine from 1975 to 1979,
a cofounder of Greenpeace International, and a director of
Greenpeace Canada until 1982. In 1980s he helped draft legislation
for BC's new pulp mill effluent regulations, limiting dioxin
releases into the Georgia Strait. He is currently the publisher and
editor of Shared Vision magazine. He lives in Vancouver with his
wife Lisa Gibbons, and has 3 sons.