Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan


From the Author's Introduction, Page 5, 25:

"This book is, first and foremost, a local or “place” history. It tells the story of my hometown region north of the city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, reaching back into the archaeological past and moving forward to 1940. As such, the first audience for this book is the neighbours and friends and relatives who populated my world when I was growing up and who continue to live in the area today. This place sits at the transition between the prairie and the boreal forest, which introduces a second important theme in this book: edge. Much can be learned by changing the point of view for writing history. In this book, I tell the story from the perspective of a community that sits on the edge between the two most iconic Canadian regions: Canada’s north and Canada’s south. The identity and history of my home community belong fully with neither one nor the other. I hope that this book will challenge conceptions of Saskatchewan, how people have lived here, and how those stereotypes have shaped the ways in which we tell our stories. So, as part of that challenge, my second audience is the historians and geographers who take on the task of telling Canada’s story." (5).

"Storytelling is at the heart of what historians do. As pointed out so eloquently and simply by environmental historian William Cronon, how a historian chooses to tell a story matters.[46] The story of the forest fringe, as seen through events and cultures in the north Prince Albert region, is more than just “marginal” farming carried too far past the forest edge. When viewed a little differently, taking into account deep-time history, a new narrative of cultural and ecological edges, resilience, refuge, and nexus offers a broader and deeper perspective. Significant historical events are viewed from a fresh perspective. New methodological ideas such as edge theory and place history offer a critical approach to bridge the artificial and culturally constructed gap between isolated regions that plagues the Canadian historical record. The Canadian habit of reducing this country into regions has shaped conceptions of nature and region, promoted inertia, and skewed analysis. It is time to break open stereotypical narratives to find new ways of telling the Canadian story. Reinterpreting the Saskatchewan story will, I hope, offer a new narrative arc. The edge is important: I challenge you not to ignore the edges between Canadian regions but to actively look into them as sites of new meaning in Canadian history. Instead of writing history from the centre, write it from the edge, looking out in all directions. As William Baker said, it’s all about vantage point." (25).

Publication Information

Massie, Merle. Forest Prairie Edge. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2014.

Massie, Merle
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