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category: History
published: May 2021
publisher: Royal BC Museum

The Object's the Thing

The Writings of Yorke Edwards, a Pioneer of Heritage Interpretation in Canada

by R. Yorke Edwards, edited by Richard Kool & Robert A. Cannings

tagged: post-confederation (1867-), non-formal education, educators

"To glimpse this diversity is to feel some of the meaning of being Canadian."?R. Yorke Edwards
R. Yorke Edwards was a pioneer in the field of heritage interpretation in Canada. First with BC Parks and then with the Canadian Wildlife Service, throughout the 1960s Edwards developed an approach to the interpretation of natural and cultural history with a focus on the "real thing"—the object, the place, the process, the person—in front of a visitor.
Almost everyone who has visited a Canadian park or museum has been touched by Edwards's legacy—but few know his name. Through essays and photographs, a biography and sections from Edwards's unpublished notebook, The Object's the Thing introduces "the father of nature interpretation in Canada," whose work still affects how we experience our heritage today.

About the Authors

R. Yorke Edwards

Richard Kool

Robert A. Cannings

Contributor Notes

For almost half a century Yorke Edwards was a pioneer in wildlife biology, nature education, conservation, and museum life, stimulating people to think more deeply about the world and our place in it.

Rick Kool began his professional life as a secondary school science teacher before joining the Royal BC Museum as an education officer, ending his time there as director of public programs. He was the environmental education coordinator for the BC Ministry of Environment and co-ordinated park interpretation within BC Parks before joining Royal Roads University in 2003, when he established their MA in Environmental Education and Communication program. Rick is now a professor in RRU's School of Environment and Sustainability.

Rob Cannings is curator emeritus at the Royal BC Museum, where he was curator of entomology from 1980 to 2013 and managed the natural history section from 1987 to 1996. Earlier, he was a biologist and nature interpreter for BC Parks and the Canadian Wildlife Service. He is a fellow of Okanagan College and a recipient of the Bruce Naylor Award, which recognizes exceptional contributions to the study of museum-based natural history in Canada.

Bob Peart was assistant director for research and public programs at the Royal BC Museum from 1985 to 1988 and has spent his life working and volunteering to conserve and protect wildlife, their habitats, and the natural world he loves. His time with Yorke spanned decades and influenced his approach to conservation education.

Editorial Review

"This book is a "must-read" for anyone interested in heritage interpretation, the history of BC Parks, the Royal BC Museum, the Canadian Wildlife Service or park management." Leah Ramsay, the Victoria Naturalist

"Yorke Edwards? legacy runs deep in Canadian scientific and historical interpretation, especially in his adoptive province . . . and Edwards? writings reveal other tantalizing ideas, decades ahead of their time, that we can only wish he had explored further."?Forrest Pass, in the Ormsby Review

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