Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History

UBC Press
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In the early hours of 15 December 2006, a windstorm of a ferocity not known for more than forty years ripped through Vancouver. In the crisp light of dawn, the city's residents awoke to discover that Stanley Park, their city's most treasured park, had been transformed into a tangle of splintered and uprooted trees. In the weeks that followed, people toured Stanley Park by car and by foot like a procession of mourners at a funeral. Their anguish revealed more than just an attachment to the memory of a park – it marked the end of a romanticized vision of timeless natural space.

In Inventing Stanley Park, environmental historian Sean Kheraj examines how this tension between popular expectations of idealized wilderness and the volatility of complex ecosystems helped shape one of the world's most famous urban parks. Drawing on a wealth of illustrations and the insights of environmental history, Kheraj not only describes and depicts the natural and cultural forces that shaped the park's landscape, he also reveals the roots of our complex relationship with nature.

Released to coincide with Stanley Park's 125th anniversary, this book offers a revealing meditation on the interrelationship between nature, culture, parks policy, and public memory.

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About the author

Sean Kheraj is an assistant professor in the Department of History at York University.
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Additional Information

UBC Press
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Published on
May 24, 2013
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History / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
History / Historical Geography
Nature / Ecosystems & Habitats / General
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One of the oldest metropolitan areas in North America, Montreal
has evolved from a remote fur trading post in New France into an
international center for services and technology. A city and an island
located at the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, it is
uniquely situated to serve as an international port while also providing
rail access to the Canadian interior. The historic capital of the
Province of Canada, once Canada’s foremost metropolis, Montreal has a
multifaceted cultural heritage drawn from European and North American
influences. Thanks to its rich past, the city offers an ideal setting
for the study of an evolving urban environment.
       Metropolitan Natures
presents original histories of the diverse environments that constitue
Montreal and it region. It explores the agricultural and industrial
transformation of the metropolitan area, the interaction of city and
hinterland, and the interplay of humans and nature. The fourteen
chapters cover a wide range of issues, from landscape representations
during the colonial era to urban encroachments on the Kahnawake Mohawk
reservation on the south shore of the island, from the 1918–1920 Spanish
flu epidemic and its ensuing human environmental modifications to the
urban sprawl characteristic of North America during the postwar period.
Situations that politicize the environment are discussed as well,
including the economic and class dynamics of flood relief, highways
built to facilitate recreational access for the middle class,
power-generating facilities that invade pristine rural areas, and the
elitist environmental hegemony of fox hunting. Additional chapters
examine human attempts to control the urban environment through street
planning, waterway construction, water supply, and sewerage.


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