Time and Place, Part I

I have access to a reliable internet connection so am going to attempt what was not possible at CHESS and blog from “Time and Place: Environmental Histories, Environmental Futures, and Prince Edward Island,” a workshop put on by Island Studies at UPEI and NiCHE. Oh! Because it is PEI and the most famous person from PEI is a fictional character I am going to keep an “Anne Count” – and the “Anne of Green Gables” license plates do not count.
Yesterday, after 25 years of living in Canada, I made it to the maritimes for the first time. It was also the first time I’ve looked out the window of an airplane and been able to see a WHOLE province. Prince Edward Island is every bit the ruby, emerald and sapphire in June that L.M. Montgomery described in Anne of Green Gables. After landing at the smallest airport and quickly discovering that people here are unbelievably friendly, the other participant from Edmonton and I were driven to the first keynote address of the workshop. It was given by Finis Dunaway (Trent University) at the Confederation Centre of the Arts and titled “Seeing Connections: Environmental History and Visual Culture.” As someone who regularly uses photographs as key primary sources the points he raised regarding the value of visual records to environmental historians were nothing new, but it still great to hear being said to as diverse a group of academics as are at “Time and Place.”
Anne Count: 2 – both at the Confederation Centre of the Arts where the Anne of Green Gables musical plays.

Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire - even on a rainy day

Today theme was Aboriginal Histories and we spent most of it on Lennox Island, a Mi’kmaq reserve off the north west coast of PEI. There were excellent presentations from various elders and tribal leaders about traditional knowledge systems, environmental relations, and the impacts of contact on Mi’kmaq life and culture. The field trip was a choice between a tour of a lobster plant (smelly) or a medicine trail walk (buggy). I went for the buggy option and it was worth it. The walk was great, learned about a few new plants, saw a great red beach, and as long as we kept moving the mosquitos were tolerable. However, as soon as you stopped walking they swarmed and managed to dine on any exposed skin – in my case there are 5 bites on one hand since those were the only body part not covered.

The keynote for the evening was Donald Worster on “North Americans in an Age of Limits.” This was the speaker I was most looking forward to hearing – the reason I applied to come to the workshop – and the talk did not disappoint. In fact, the points he raised about the post-World War II rise of ecology and that historians need to engage and think on environmentalism on two levels of consciousness – public and scientific – gave me a little more faith in the timelyness of my current project.
Anne Count: 2, one was a flag in a yard we drove past, the other was for the “Anne and Gilbert” musical playing in Summerside.

There is, of course, much more that could be said but it is late and tomorrow is another full day.


About Lauren Wheeler

A reformed history phd student working as a public historian and looking for connections between museums and environmental history from the often freezing reaches of Canada (aka Edmonton).
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