LITERARY SITE: Vladimir J. Krajina Ecological Reserve, west coast of Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (southwest of Masset, 35 km. west of Justatla). 53°35'10.4" N 132°56'17.8" W

ENTRY:

Czech Resistance fighter Vladimir Krajina, who was sentenced to death by both the Nazis and Communists when they overran his homeland, was later revered as 'the Father of Forest Ecology in B.C.' in Cameron Young's The Forests of B.C. for his work classifying B.C. ecosystems. Krajina's early criticism of slash-burning practices and his creation of forestry reserves resulted in the creation of the 9834-hectare ecological reserve named in his honour by BC Parks in 1973. Krajina easily qualifies as one of B.C.'s most heroic authors.

ENTRY:

Vladimir Josef Krajina was born at Slavonice, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic) on April 13, 1905. He graduated from Charles University in Prague with the degree of D.Sc. cum laude in 1927 and became a professor of botany at Charles University. Krajina became the leader of an underground resistance cell during World War II. Amongst thousands of radio messages sent, this group supplied the Allies with information about Hitler's planned invasion of the Balkans and the Soviet Union.

Krajina survived capture by the Nazis to become a member of the postwar Czechoslovak Parliament, elected in 1945. He was Secretary General of the largest democratic Socialist Party when the government was led by Jan Masaryk. After the Communist takeover in February 1948 he escaped on skis to Bavaria. A few days later the family of Vancouver novelist Jan Drabek (who in 2012 wrote Krajina's biography for Ronsdale Press), followed the same route out. A year later Krajina was received by Winston Churchill at Chequers and thanked for his wartime efforts.

Krajina came to Vancouver in 1949 and taught plant ecology at UBC for 24 years. As a botany professor he led the team which identified and mapped this province's ecological regions and eventually became the Father of British Columbia's ecological reserves which have since been copied throughout Canada and the world. There are more than 150 of them in the province. Karjina published countless scientific articles on forestry, botany and ecology as well the section on Czech and Slovaks in British Columbia for a book called Strangers Entertained, published by the British Columbia Centennial Committee in 1971.

Krajina received the Order of Canada in 1981 and he received the Czechoslovak Order of the White Lion from President Vaclav Havel in 1990. Krajina wrote about his wartime exploits in his memoirs, High Stakes, published in the Czech Republic in 1994, and he has been subject of numerous Czech documentaries as well as Jan Drabek's book, Vladimir Krajina: World War II Hero and Ecology Pioneer (Ronsdale 2013), since translated by Drabek for publication in the Czech Republic where Krajina is revered for his patriotism.

Vladimir Krajina lived primarily at 4960 Chancellor Boulevard with his family (wife Maria, son Vlad Jr., daughter Milena) from the mid-1950s until his death on June 1, 1993. The UBC Department of Botany honours him with the annual Vladimir J. Krajina Memorial Lecture.

BOOKS:

Vysoká hra, Vzpomínky, (Prague: Eva Publishers 1994). English translation: High Stakes, A Memoir

ABOUT:

Drabek, Jan. Vladimir Krajina: World War II Hero and Ecology Pioneer (Ronsdale 2013)

[BCBW 2015] "Forestry"