Jacqueline Windh grew up in Mississauga, Ontario. From her earliest childhood, she was interested in nature and the outdoors. She started collecting rocks and minerals, and learning their names as well as their uses and origins, while in first grade. She received her first camera at the age of eleven, and through her teens had aspirations of becoming either a nature photographer or a scientist.
She started with the scientific route, enrolling in the Geology program at McGill University (Montréal) in 1983. She completed one year of her studies away on exchange, at San Diego State University (California). Jacqueline graduated from McGill with her BSc (Hons) in 1987 and was awarded the Logan Gold Medal for finishing first in her class.
Jacqueline worked as an assistant exploration geologist in both the mining and petroleum industries during the summers while studying, and for six months after finishing her degree. Then she moved to Australia to pursue graduate studies. She enrolled in the PhD program at Macquarie University (Sydney) to study structural controls on saddle-reef gold mineralization at Hill End, NSW, at the end of 1987, but after a year was forced to abandon the study due to logistical problems with the project.
In early 1989 she commenced a new doctoral project at The University of Western Australia (Perth), studying regional structural controls on gold mineralization in central Western Australia. She completed her thesis, entitled Structural Controls on Gold Mineralization in the Lower Proterozoic Glengarry Sub-basin, Western Australia, and was awarded her PhD, in 1992.
Jacqueline worked as a geological consultant to the mining industry, specializing in structural controls on mineralization, interpretation of aeromagnetic data, and 3D/4D modelling and exploration targetting, first for EHW Geoscience Consultants (based in Canberra, but working on projects throughout Australia) and then for SRK Consulting, based in Santiago Chile and working in Chile, Peru and Argentina. She is fluent in Spanish (and gets by just fine in French as well).
She moved to Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast (now a part of Clayoquot Sound UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) in 1995. She had learned to sea-kayak while still in Australia but here, living ocean-front to some of the world’s best paddling, she got serious about the kayaking. She undertook the necessary training and became a qualified sea-kayak guide, guiding and instructing for five years in between her geology contracts in South America.
In 2000, having been influenced by both Clayoquot Sound’s intact wilderness and the many indigenous friends she had made there, she decided to leave the mining industry for good, and to devote herself full-time to photography. Her hope was, rather than leaving a negative impact on the earth through her participation in the mining industry (thereby supporting consumerism, destruction of the environment, and displacement of indigenous peoples from their traditional territories), to use her wilderness photography to try to leave a more positive impact by encouraging people to tread more lightly on our planet. Creative writing soon became a natural accompaniment to her photography. She studied Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia part-time, through the UBC Optional Residency (online) program, and received her MFA in 2012. While still working in photography, writing is now her main focus.
Jacqueline is author of or major contributor to four books, one of which is a Canadian best-seller. Her articles and photographs have been published in numerous quality magazines around the world. She has written, recorded and produced numerous radio documentaries for the CBC and other radio networks. She does not tie herself to any one medium; rather, she chooses the medium – words, images, sound, or film – that best suits the story that she wants to tell.
Jacqueline’s “serious” works focus primarily upon themes relating to the environment, and to the treatment of indigenous peoples around the world, especially the effects of colonization and enforced residential school systems on language and culture. She uses her rigid scientific training and broad earth sciences background to back up her research, and her communication skills to present her ideas to the general public. Her “hobby” journalism is reporting on adventure races and ultramarathons (which she also participates in). She is increasingly turning to fiction (short stories, a novel, and screenwriting), rather than non-fiction (essays and articles), to address the environmental and social themes that concern her.
She is currently working on a new book, My Secret Sasquatch and Other Possibilities, a collection of stories and essays centred upon the west coast, that intentionally blur the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction. In 2011 she moved from Tofino to Port Alberni, in the centre of Vancouver Island, where she lives with her partner Dave and their two dogs.
B.Sc. (Honours) in Geology, McGill University, 1987 – received Logan Gold Medal for finishing first in class
M.F.A. in Creative Writing, University of British Columbia, 2012
Ph.D. in Structural Geology, The University of Western Australia, 1992