Game in the Garden
A Human History of Wildlife in Western Canada to 1940
Frontier and pioneer societies provide numerous unexplored avenues of social history. Game in the Garden identifies the imaginative use of wild animals in early western society. In what is now western Canada, humans have long used wildlife in order to survive their surroundings, better understand their natural world, and form aspects of their identity.
The shared use of wild animals has helped to determine social relations between Native peoples and newcomers. In later settlement periods, controversy about subsistence hunting and campaigns of local conservation associations drew lines between groups in communities, particularly Native peoples, immigrants, farmers, and urban dwellers. In addition to examining grassroots conservation activities, Colpitts identifies early slaughter rituals, iconographic traditions, and subsistence strategies that endured well into the interwar years in the twentieth century. Drawing primarily on local and provincial archival sources, he analyzes popular meanings and booster messages discernible in taxidermy work, city nature museums, and promotional photography.
Environmental historians, Native studies specialists, history students, conservationists, nature enthusiasts, and general readers alike will find fascinating how western attitudes to wild animals changed according to subsistence and economic needs and how wildlife helped to determine the social relations among people in western Canada.
Part of the challenge of conserving biological diversity in the 21st century, Colpitts argues, will be to grapple with old, utilitarian understandings of nature and wildlife. [Game in the Garden] is well and clearly written, a solid attempt at developing those very understandings.
Illustrations and Tables
1 Amerindians, Voyageurs, and the Animal Exchange in the Western Fur Trade
2 The Territorial Period, Game Crisis, and the Western Domestication Movement
3 From Meat to Sport Hunting
4 Boosters, Wildlife, and Western Myths of Superabundance
5 Pioneer Society and Fish and Game Protection Conclusion
Appendix: Independent Conservation Associations in Western Canada
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