Travel, Tourism, and the Environment: Winning Photos

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Late this summer, NiCHE held a photo contest on the theme of Travel, Tourism, and the Environment. Participants were invited to submit photographs that capture some of the complex relationships between mobility, pleasure travel, and the natural world in Canada and points further afield. We are very pleased to announce the winning images, which between them illustrate the stylistic and geographic diversity of the submissions. The two winners are a close-up shot by Dr. Ellen Arnold (@EFArnold) of the History department at Ohio Wesleyan University; and a landscape submitted by Hailey Venn (@HaileyVenn) a History student at Simon Fraser University.

Each winner receives a copy of the  edited collection Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History eds. Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin M. Coates (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016); and a copy of Histoire sociale/Social History #99 (June 2016), which is a special theme issue on Canadian tourism history.

Here are the winning submissions:

Ellen Arnold, Ohio Wesleyan University


As an environmental historian and photographer, when I travel, I am fascinated by the ways that nature affects human spaces and humans affect nature. I look for ways of reflecting the character of places and showing the intersections of the natural and the man-made, the animate and the inanimate. I look for texture, and patterns, the ways that time weathers and mutes colours, and in the ways that places and patterns are formed and broken. Thus, I often find myself exploring markets.

Markets are unique intersection points, as there we can see natural objects, raw materials, finished goods, tools, and materials. It’s the place where nature and culture are on co-display, and where tourists can glimpse the economies and the ecosystems of new places. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes—and the noises of a place and the sounds of a language. Locals and tourists intersect, foreign and native crops and foods are neatly arrayed side by side; order is brought to disordered shapes. It is often a single moment in a market that becomes the touchstone for my memories of a trip. Such is the case with this photo, “Forbidden Fruit,” taken in Istanbul.

This pile of pomegranates, one sliced open to display to passers-by the luscious lure of the fruit, which would be juiced immediately with a giant, hand-operated press. The memory of the raw, warm, sharp taste of my first cup of fresh pomegranate juice, drunk under the shadow of the object of my pilgrimage, the Hagia Sophia, still has the power to sting my tongue. This layering of taste, object, and mystery is what I try to capture in his image—the pull of nature and the past, the power of the mythically potent pomegranate.


Hailey Venn, Simon Fraser University


The tourist community of Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia truly embodies David Louter’s term, “windshield wilderness,” offering an escape to ‘genuine nature’ through tame gardens, golf courses, the friendly Sasquatch, and the dramatically altered southern shores of Harrison Lake.

Only 52 feet above sea level, the region has struggled for decades to cope with water challenges. Decades of drastic floods have shaped Harrison, as its residents have altered the landscape to adapt. The push for and building of sand dikes in the early 1950s led to the opportunity for a swimming beach in 1956. Construction began (which simultaneously satisfied the need for diking) a process that demanded the importation of sand which soon enabled Harrison to host its world-renowned Sand Castle Festival. The lakefront was converted from rip-rap – piled large rocks that prevented erosion – into sandy beaches. Further humanizing of the space was the building of a sand spit which resulted in a lagoon.

The featured shore extension, Harrison Lagoon, was constructed in 1956 and provided a shallower area protected from the currents and cold of the glacier-fed Harrison Lake. Despite the rationale for its creation including safety, comfort, and appreciation of the landscape, these same factors have been compromised. In 1979 the community released 16 young Canadian Geese, hoping their population would come to thrive, yet support for the geese ended when a health scare resulted in the birds’ excrement being blamed for a rapid spike in coliform bacteria in the lagoon water. The result was, at first, relocation, then fatal removal of the geese when some community members became impatient. Health scares in recent years have similarly been linked with waterfowl, whether through the transfer of coliform bacteria that thrives in the warm, isolated water during the summer, or the transfer of snail larvae in bird feces that causes swimmer’s itch.

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I'm a historian of cultural, natural, and built landscapes in twentieth-century Canada. One of my current book projects is about the popular culture of nature in postwar Canada, looking at the history of rowdyism and 'bad behaviour' in Canadian parks from 1965 to 1985, or from hippies to headbangers.

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