Nature’s Past Episode 48: Ecotones and Saskatchewan History

“A family of six picnic at Waskesiu, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan, 1950.” Source: Library and Archives Canada

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Episode 48: Ecotones and Saskatchewan History [46:47]
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Arguably, the predominant landscape Canadians generally associate with Saskatchewan is one filled with waving grains of wheat and broad, flat vistas. It is the land of the living skies and one of Canada’s so-called Prairie provinces. And yet so much of Saskatchewan isn’t prairie. In fact, the prairie ecological zone covers only the southernmost part of the province. What about the rest?

Merle Massie confronts this matter in her award-winning book, Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan. It is a book that takes readers through a different landscape in the province of Saskatchewan and invites us to think about the province’s history from a new perspective: a view from the edge. That is to say, Massie shifts her focus in Saskatchewan history away from the predominant narratives about the prairies and agricultural settlement based on the cultivation of wheat toward the province’s ecotone, the transitional zone between the prairie and the parkland, the forest edge.

It is at the forest edge that Massie finds different ways of thinking about sustainability, European and Euro-Canadian colonization of the West, and other relationships between people and the rest of nature. This episode of the podcast features an interview with Merle Massie about her fascinating new book.

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Merle Massie

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Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 48: Ecotones and Saskatchewan History” Nature’s Past: Canadian Environmental History Podcast. 27 May 2015.

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Sean Kheraj is the director of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at


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