Natures Past: Archival Evidence of Environmental and Climate Change Exhibit & Lecture Series

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Event Details

Natures Past: Lecture Series
The following four lectures, which run from October into early November, explore environmental history research in Western Canada as it is being done by both scientists and historians. Each individual lecture focuses on a specific topic, but collectively they examine relationships between people and changing environments over time. While attending these lectures you can also take the opportunity to visit the exhibit also at the Provincial Archives on the kinds and value of archival evidence available for interpreting past environmental and climate change.


  • October 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm
    Murphy, Peter. University of Alberta. “Forests, Fires, Climate and People: an illustrated history of forests, fire and people and how they interacted”.
    Abstract: Forests returned to Alberta about 10,000 years ago after the glaciers retreated; people followed about the same time. People, forests and forest fires have coexisted and developed together in changing relationships since.
  • October 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm
    Colpitts, George. University of Calgary. “Human Response to the Killing Winters in Alberta’s Neutral Hills Territory in the Fur Trade Era“.
    Abstract: The Hudson’s Bay Company posts in the North Saskatchewan River Basin provide scholars with a wealth of environmental data. This talk examines how Fort Pitt’s journals from the 1830s provide a window into the tumultuous Cree-Blackfoot Neutral Territory, and a means of reconstructing a climatic fault-line in the Northern Great Plains where, in the crises presented by mild, snowless winters, buffalo-hunting plains people found the means of striking temporary peace accords in the famous “Neutral Hills” of the province.
  • October 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm
    Beaudoin, Alwynne B. Royal Alberta Museum. “Archives of the Ancient Past: Landscape and Drought History in Alberta“.
    Abstract: Dramatic images of prairie droughts – cracked earth, dried-up lakes, and dust clouds engulfing settlements – are well represented in documentary archives and have become part of Alberta’s mythology. Yet for thousands of years people living in Alberta have coped with periodic drought. We can “read” this drought history through a different kind of record, a landscape archive preserved in lake cores and tree rings. Are all droughts the same? Do droughts show predictable patterns? Are recent droughts really more severe and apocalyptic than events in the distant past? Research is revealing a complex and varied landscape history that provides valuable context for those dramatic pictures.
  • November 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm
    Stunden Bower, Shannon. University of Alberta. “Through the Eyes of the State: Using Government Records to Explain Environmental Change in Manitoba, Canada“.
    Abstract: Since the government of Manitoba passed legislation facilitating land drainage in 1895, the province’s agricultural landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation. This presentation will consider how this transformation was documented in government records, with particular emphasis on how these records illuminate diverse public opinions as well as the approach of the state.

Lectures are free, but please RSVP to or 780-427-1750 if you wish to attend.

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