Canadian Ranger, veteran, survivalist, Ed McCarter with his pup MacKenzie in Tuck Inlet. Shannon Lough/The Northern View

VIDEO and Story: Heart of Our City – Watchkeeper of the North

Ed McCarter the younger is a survivalist, military veteran and Canadian Ranger in Prince Rupert.

An adventurer, survivalist, military veteran and known by some as “Party Ed,” the youngest of the two Ed McCarters in city has found his solitude in the North Coast wild.

Born in Scotland, which is clear the moment you meet him, the McCarter family spent a few years travelling the world aboard ships. They saw Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy and South Africa.

His father was with the British Royal Navy until he decided to immigrate. An enticing job offer came up in Prince Rupert to fix sonars and radars on a fishing fleet and the family moved to Canada in the summer of 1981.

Young McCarter received his citizenship and graduated high school, he was ready to follow a similar path as his father. He had already been on ships so he instead of joining the navy he signed up for the army when he was 19-years-old.

“Maybe it was too many John Wayne movies. I just always wanted to be in the army,” he said.

He signed up in 1989, and did two six-month tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina. What McCarter experienced overseas has shaped the way he lives his life today.

“To see what other humans can do to each other, that is why I live my life the way I do. It’s all gravy. A lot of people don’t realize how lucky they have it here and I know I do. Every day I wake up is a gift,” he said.

Disheartened from his tours, he chose not to sign up for another 14 years with the Canadian Military. Around the same time his father had started his own security company, Finex PM Security Ltd. and he needed an extra hand with the business.

McCarter had six months training at a technical school in Victoria and returned to Prince Rupert to work in security and raise a family. But he’d lost his adventuring spirit.

“When I got out of the army, I said I’d never be cold, I’d never be wet, I’d never be hungry,” McCarter said.

For five years he spent much of his time in front of the TV sitting on a couch eating comfort food. He put on weight, and lost his fitness, until one day he snapped out of the funk and changed his lifestyle.

He turned off the TV and started hiking, kayaking, biking and running. His attitude about being wet and cold changed — as the Rupert saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather just bad outerwear.

Now, McCarter hikes up Mt. Blaine at least three times a week. He purchased one of the cabins at the top and often packs firewood to heat the humble space. Two years ago, he set a goal to hike up to the top of Mt. Blaine once a day for all of February. He did it, with a few push-ups at the top and maybe a couple of brews.

His nickname “Party Ed” stuck after a rather rambunctious weekend in Exstew with friends. But the name acts as a diversion to his more crafty and clever side.

Five years ago, McCarter learned about the Canadian Ranger patrol in Prince Rupert and joined the team.

Isolated and sparsely populated regions of Canada that can’t be covered by the Canadian Armed Forces are protected by the Canadian Rangers reserve force. Their motto is “Vigilans,” which means the watchers.

“It’s a way to get out and interact with the community, search and rescue and it’s a presence for the Canadian Military in small towns,” McCarter said, who is now the patrol commander for the 4th Canadian Patrol Group.

Rangers can be deployed in the region for firefighting, search and rescue missions, or securing a downed aircraft.

He’s had the opportunity to travel all over the province to train and work with other rangers. In July, he’s doing a 10-day survival course in Alberta.

“They’ll put me in a bush with a knife and hopefully a pack of matches,” he said.

Another survival course he completed was on Haida Gwaii. He was responsible to set up the course for military members, and then he was given the chance to take part in the training himself.

The two-week course was in February on North Beach, where he had no watch, no water and only a bit of deer meat and a garbage bag to collect rainwater.

“The first thing you do is lay down the garbage bag and hope it rains and oh it rained,” he said with a laugh.

But what was the most challenging was not knowing the time. He remembers watching what he thought was the sun rising in a hazy sky realizing later that it was the moon. In his next survival course, he plans to sneak a watch in his boot.

For anyone curious about joining the Canadian Rangers they can message Ed McCarter at rgr.Ed.McCarter@gmail.com or find him on Mt. Blaine where he spends much of his time, connecting with nature, building his fitness and soaking in life.