The politics of place – Winnipeg Free Press

From the Introduction to Authorized Heritage: Place, Memory, and Historic Sites in Prairie Canada, by Robert Coutts, published by University of Manitoba Press

Landscape as culture. It is a concept that at first glance seems peculiar.

The gleaming white Depot Building of York Factory, the trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company.</p>
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<p>The gleaming white Depot Building of York Factory, the trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company.</p>
<p>Upon reflection, however, we realize that our Western view of landscape is the result of shared values and shared culture, a culture assembled from a rich accumulation of myths, folklores, events, and memories. Such landscapes of memory are cultural memories, and we all experience place and memory in different ways.			</p>
<p>One of my own encounters came from historical interest rather than personal familiarity. It was in August of 1983 that I found myself with a small group of people in a boat heading to Hudson Bay. We were travelling on the Hayes River in northern Manitoba, bound for York Factory, the once great trading post and entrepôt of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Leaving from the junction of the Fox and Hayes rivers about 120 kilometres southwest of Hudson Bay, we travelled the river in the warm summer sunshine as the topography of the lowlands became flatter, the riverbank grew steeper, and the fir trees appeared smaller and stunted, bent low by the winter winds off the bay.			</p>
<p>We travelled for hours and the wilderness around us seemed interminable. But as the river grew wider, a last bend revealed a remarkable sight; the massive, gleaming white Depot Building of York Factory appeared as if an apparition, its presence startling in the vastness of the surrounding wilderness. I had read much about this place and its history, but I found it exhilarating to finally experience it in person.			</p>
<p>																																																	<img decoding=Robert Coutts worked as a historian with Parks Canada for more than 30 years, researching historic sites throughout western and northern Canada. He is the co-author of the book Voices from Hudson Bay:

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