Sage Birchwater (Rick Stamford) – a short biography
It was a 70s thing, changing my name to Sage Birchwater. That’s the simplest explanation. My lady-friend and I disappeared into the mountains to reinvent the wheel and rediscover fire on our remote trapline in the Chilcotin, and when we emerged in the spring we were Sage and Yarrow. Eventually we had two children born in the bush, and I legally changed my name so we could give our children the names we wanted.
After graduating from Oak Bay High, I spent a few years at the University of Victoria before dropping out to go travelling. I strongly identified with the counterculture movement, and ended up going back-to-the-land in Williams Lake in 1973, where I helped start a youth hostel and food co-op, and worked as a streetworker. For a short time I lived on a commune, but my dream was to live in the wilderness.
In 1975 I bought a trapline near Tatla Lake and moved out to the Chilcotin in 1977 to spend the next 24 years doing a variety of things including trapping, working as a ranch hand, cultural research with aboriginal elders and youth, and launching my literary career as a journalist and writer.
In 2001 I moved back to Williams Lake to take a job as a reporter for the Williams Lake Tribune before retiring in 2009 to work full time writing and editing books.
Some of my book titles include Chiwid (New Star Books 1995); Williams Lake: Gateway to the Cariboo Chilcotin (with Stan Navratil 2004); Gumption & Grit: Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin Press 2009); The Legendary Betty Frank (Caitlin Press 2011); Flyover British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast (with Chris Harris 2012); Corky Williams: Cowboy Poet of the Cariboo Chilcotin (Caitlin Press 2013)
I live in Williams Lake with my partner Caterina Geuer where we enjoy gardening, hanging out with our cat and dog, and being grandparents.
I continue to freelance for several publications including The Green Gazette (thegreengazette.ca), The Stew magazine (thestew.ca) and Lived Experience literary journal, and have a book project or two on the go.