Sean Gallagher - Naturalist

Sean Gallagher


A naturalist and nurse by trade, Sean is keenly interested in the intersections between people, the natural world we share, and the prose that shines a light on our own humanity.

Rumour has it Sean was never born, he just walked in one frosty morn’ - under the smokey-sulphur plume of Inco’s Superstack in Sudbury. Growing up a Canadian-shield boy, fishing salmon from the Great Lakes, often encountering invasive lamprey eels and zebra mussels, he was always awed and inspired by the disrupted, yet beautiful northern landscape.

Sudbury, located in northern Ontario, is simultaneously one of the world's most polluted landscapes while also being one of the great examples of the power of motivated efforts to remediate its environment to a healthier one than was inherited. 

Always trying to understand how this complex world fit together, Sean focused his studies on ecology and environmental toxicology. His education was characterized by a yearning to experience and understand the spectrum of natural and human sciences. He worked both in the botany laboratory, tending to pea plants, and across the hall researching fish ecology as well as volunteering much of his free time with the student refugee program. Whether altering a plant’s genome using bacteria, cataloguing the growth of sinuous networks of fungal hyphae under microscope, examining the metabolic response of sea lampreys to the effects of targeted poisons, or trying to decipher immigration documents for incoming refugee students, his experiences were broad but always pursued with verve.  

Called to the big adventure of the Canadian Rockies, Sean started his career with Parks Canada as a naturalist, volunteering as a research assistant and working with their wildfire crews. Be it starting controlled forest fires in the subalpine to recreate habitats for endangered whitebark pines, baiting wolverines with beaver carcasses on frigid winter traplines to capture a few of their hairs or guiding long wildflower hikes across the international border into Montana, he has always been drawn to the hands-on and adventurous side of research and conservation; living by chance among the lightning strikes.

He has also been inspired to follow in the footsteps of some of North America's great adventurers and often escapes to different corners of the continent to paddle its rivers or climb its mountains hoping to share their stories. Sean is a musician who believes there is a song lyric for every situation and that there should be a song in the hollow of every guitar.  

Sean has recently responded to another calling and is now a registered nurse serving vulnerable communities in Toronto for the last several years. He has been immersed in the wilderness of emergency medicine in an urban pandemic and is yearning to put his naturalist hat back on while joining you on the trail to appreciate the wonders of our world together.