We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. Accept | Find out more

x

Blightseeing

In search of the world’s largest burro—or so I thought

Author James Dorsey Illustration Marc Rosenthal

dispatches3VANCOUVER ISLAND – Reggie (just Reggie) is a cab driver in Port Hardy, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, a popular spot for whale watchers, kayakers and weekend adventurers. A local man of indeterminate age, Reggie has a Santa Claus beard, wide suspenders and a weathered cowboy hat. He is a voluble storyteller and keeper of local lore, and his routes, as many out-of-town fares have discovered, can be as discursive as his conversation.

On a recent visit to Port Hardy, I hired Reggie to take me from the airport to my hotel. As soon as we’d set off, he asked if I had my camera ready, as we were going to stop for a look at the world’s largest burro. I told him I was game, and I spent the rest of the journey trying to imagine how large one of these animals could possibly be. Eventually, we pulled into a small lot in a heavily forested area. We got out of the cab and stood there, facing an old but otherwise unremarkable tree.

“Well, what do you think?” he said, his face creased by a craggy smile.

“Think about what?” 

“That!” He was pointing at the tree. The only animal in sight was a squirrel.

We stood there for a bit, saying nothing. Finally, Reggie broke the silence: “You’re looking at the world’s largest burl!” And there it was, a tumor-like growth on the tree, possibly not the world’s largest, but a fair size.

“Oh,” I said.

“I thought you said burro.”

“I did!” he cried, startling the squirrel. Then he punched me on the arm and headed back to his cab. “Gets ’em every time!” —JAMES DORSEY

Leave your comments