Place and Replace: A Joint Meeting of Western Canadian Studies and St John’s College Prairies Conference

Event Date: Sep 16 2010 – Sep 18 2010
City: Winnipeg
Country: Canada

In 2008, a group of historians at the University of Alberta and Athabasca University revived the traveling, bi-annual Western Canadian Studies Conferences of the 1970s and 80s. The University of Manitoba’s St John’s College has held a triennial multidisciplinary conference on the Prairies since 1998. From 16 to 18 September 2010 these two conferences joined forces to explore the multitude of questions related to “Place and Replace” in Western Canada. The rubric of “Place and Replace” aims to provoke questions about location in Western Canada, and about what is at stake when places and peoples’ relationship to them change or are contested.

Over three days the conference featured over seventy papers presented by scholars with a wide range of geographical locations, disciplinary backgrounds, and interests in western Canada. Plenary panels addressed Indigenous agriculture, literary representations, and migrant cultures.
Place and Replace Program

Archived Presentations

NiCHE has archived 17 presentations from this event.


Citation: Syms, E. Leigh, “Plant Cultivation Among First Nations in Manitoba Before the Fur Trade”. Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Syms works at the Manitoba Museum.
Abstract: Syms argues that local First Nations in Manitoba were traditionally cultivators of both “wild” and domesticated plants prior to European contact, and argues that they should be considered farmers. In order to understand the traditional First Nations cultivation as farming it is necessary to shed all our experiences with modern, western industrial farming. Syms argues that terminology used for First Nations cultivation tends to diminish its importance, implying lesser efforts. Syms draws from a broad range of information from across the country.


Citation: Carter, Sarah and Winona Wheeler, “When First Nations are Farmers/Settlers: Vexing Problems in the Fabrication of a White Settler West”. Winnipeg, MB. 17 September, 2010.
Bio: Sarah Carter, University of Alberta. Winona Wheeler, University of Manitoba.
Abstract: The view that First Nations people were not agricultural prevailed in the nineteenth century. However, there is evidence that in the nineteenth century in Manitoba there were First Nations agricultural settlements, cultivated land in many localities, and individual farmers. This paper focuses on the deliberate and strenuous efforts that were required to erase First Nations agriculture from the landscape, except within reserves, and the efforts to draw clear distinctions between the “settlers” and the “Indians” so that no one identified as “Indian” would actually possess land, even in cases where land was occupied and farmed before the treaty.


Citation: Calder, Alison. “The Importance of Place; or, Why We’re Not Post-Prairie” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September, 2010.
Bio: Alison Calder, University of Manitoba.
Abstract: Prairie literature writers and scholars were amazingly successful at establishing prairie literature as a field of study in a very short period of time. It was only in the 1970s and early 1980s that prairie literature became recognized as a “thing” with enough critical mass to carry anthologies, courses, publishing houses, and writing careers. Yet, the field of prairie literature studies is in trouble. Calder discusses the state of prairie literary studies and asks: why is prairie literature studies a disappearing field?


Citation: Nickels, Bret. “A Field of Dreams: The Problems and Prospects for Contemporary First Nations Agriculture in Manitoba” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September, 2010.
Bio: Bret Nickels, University of Manitoba
Abstract: Agriculture has played a role in the livelihood strategies of First Nations people since before European contact. In the contemporary period, government programming and management of agriculture has been ad-hoc and often can be accused of being racist in its application. The Manitoba Indian Agricultural Program was designed solely to assist First Nations agriculture. Nickel’s documents the program as a component of contemporary First Nations agriculture, investigates its accomplishments and its weaknesses, and makes policy recommendations for future First Nations agriculture based on his investigation.


Citation: Cycholl, Garin. ““Dakota is Everywhere”: The Microgeographies of “Here” in Thomas McGrath’s Letter to an Imaginary Friend” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Garin Cyholl, University of Chicago
Abstract: Tom McGrath’s Letter to an Imaginary Friend, a poem worked on from the 1960s-1980s, tries to rethink the secret agricultural history of the American prairie. Cyholl argues that McGrath offers a new means to finding locality for poetry in the Americas. He examines American poetry’s connection to historical memory and place.


Citation: Omhovère, Claire. “Miriam Toews Topography of the Void in A Complicated Kindness” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Claire Omhovère, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3 (France)
Abstract: A Complicated Kindness is set in East Village, a small village in rural Manitoba in the 1970s. Like so many other fictitious towns on the prairies, Toews’ East Village does not designate a place but an attitude to place and uneasiness to dwelling. However, Omhovere argues that Toews’ book diverges from her predecessors through prairie horizontality. Omhovere’s paper focuses on this notion of horizontality.


Citation: Bertram, Laurie. “Topographies of pasty and edible ethnicities: Vinarterta and popular Icelandic-Canadian identity” Winnipeg MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Laurie Bertram, University of Toronto
Abstract: Vinarterta is a labour-intensive layered fruit torte that has been popular with the Icelandic-Canadian since its arrival in the 1870s. It is a product of a highly conservative Icelandic baking tradition in Canada, and has emerged as one of the most highly recognized symbols of Icelandic-Canadian culture in the twentieth culture. Countering critics who dismiss food as a legitimate form of cultural expression, Bertram outlines the importance of vinarterta dessert cake to Canadian Icelanders.


Citation: Eyford Ryan, “Broken Townships: The Pattern of Land-taking in the Icelandic Reserve 1875-1883” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Ryan Eyford, University of Manitoba
Abstract: This paper focuses on the practices of land-taking in the Icelandic Reserve of Manitoba, and how this reflected general patterns of land-taking in the Canadian northwest during the 1870s and 1880s. Eyford discusses some of the uniquely Icelandic traits of land-taking during this period. He then illustrates the relationship between an exclusive reserve structure and the overarching structure of the dominion lands policy.


Citation: Edwald, Áugústa. “From Iceland to New Iceland: The archaeology of 19th century emigration” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Áugústa Edwald, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Abstract: The research aimed to use archaeological methods and theory to research the emigration process, how the emigrants adjusted to new environments and cultures in Canada, and how the emigration affected Iceland society. The paper discusses the buildings excavated during two digs: one in Iceland in 2009, and one in Manitoba in 2010.


Citation: Evans, Stirling. “Badlands and Bones: Towards a Conservation and Social History of Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.


Citation: Prewitt, Mel. “Rural Education in the North American West” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Mel Prewitt, University of Iowa
Abstract: As the line of agricultural settlement raced across North America, new arrivals quickly erected one-room country schoolhouses. Soon, they were recognized by progressive educators at the turn of the century as the “rural school problem.” In this paper, Prewitt explores education reform during the Progressive Era associated with school consolidation.


Citation: Clapperton, Jonathan. “Who opposes parks after all: Sliammon First Nations, BC Parks, and Settler Conservation” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.


Citation: Iceton, Glen. “Buying Local: Changes in Athapaskan Material Culture and the Commodification of Wildlife in Northern Yukon, 1860-1910” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Glenn Iceton, University of Calgary
Abstract: In the summer of 1907, a Gwich’in man wrote to an Anglican Missionary that over the summer he had killed seventeen sheep and therefore had made a lot of money. It was an attitude to wildlife that was in stark contrast to a pre-existing pattern of consumption of animals, where animals would have been used for subsistence. In this paper, Iceton investigates how the establishment of better transportation routes and technology in interior Yukon led to the emergence of these attitudes.


Citation: Janovicek, Nancy. ““I gave up the struggle for theoretical freedom and began to live freely”: Back-to-the-landers, Coalition building, and the Slocan Valley Resource Society, 1973-1979.” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Nancy Janovicek, University of Calgary
Abstract: In the 1960s and 1970s, 400 back-to-the-landers moved to the Slocan Valley. The people that moved introduced global ideas, family forms and lifestyles that upset many long-term residents of the area. Opposition developed to their lifestyle and the community’s attempts to build alternative services and institutions in the area. In this paper, Janovicek deals with articles written for The Arrow, an alternative newspaper published in Castlegar from 1971-1978. She argues that the articles are illustrative of how back-to-the-landers developed political strategies based on a deep understanding of the political culture and place where they lived.


Citation: Robbins, Margaret. “Centre from Which Underground Passages Radiate: Understanding Mystical Tunnels in a Sto:lo Spiritual Geography” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Margaret Robbins, University of Victoria
Abstract: In this paper, Robbins argues that what people believe about the places they inhabit imbues these places with meaning. It is this meaning that inspires their action and belief about themselves and their environment. Robbins explores the existence of mystical tunnels and the Sto:lo people. These tunnels have mystical properties, dangerous for those who do not know how to use them, and sources of power for those who do. The existence of the tunnels necessitates a reimagining of social and physical distance and notions of time and place. The idea that under the surface exists an entire system of connections is a sharp reminder that there is more to the landscape of the Sto:lo people than can be appreciated in a superficial glance.


Citation: Danyluk, Stephanie. “Centre from Which Underground Passages Radiate: Understanding Mystical Tunnels in a Sto:lo Spiritual Geography” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September, 2010.
Bio: Stephanie Danyluk, University of Victoria
Abstract: Both place and identities are integral in defining systems of belonging. However, ways that people respond to and define place and identity are not static. For indigenous groups like the Sto:lo, place grounds individuals within their collective history and culture. But what happens when these connections are disrupted? For Sto:lo people, the linkages between kinship, place and identity have changed over time, resulting in changes in their approach to their cultural landscape. In this paper, Danyluk explores how Sto:lo people’s interactions with government policies have led them into an active consideration of the connections between kinship and place, and what implications this has on their actions.


Citation: Haggerty, Liam. “Wealth of Cultures: Sto:lo and Xwelitem Systems of Sharing in British Columbia’s Fraser River Valley” Winnipeg, MB. 17 September 2010.
Bio: Liam Haggerty, University of Saskatchewan
Abstract: The Sto:lo history of government and welfare is very different from the narrative penned by the state officials and policy makers. For much of its history, social assistance was not stigmatized in Sto:lo communities the way it was in mainstream Canada, where it was seen largely as an economic refuge. Instead, it was treated as a resource, alongside fish, plants, wage labour, and other forms of income, each of which could be harvested for personal subsistence and transformed into power and prestige. Haggerty contextualizes a history of government welfare payments within Sto:lo history and culture, and provides a new interpretation of the economic relations forged.

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