The Archive of Place

Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau

By (author) William Turkel
Categories: Human geography, Geography, Earth Sciences, Geography, Environment, Planning
Series: Nature | History | Society
Publisher: UBC Press
Paperback : 9780774813778, 352 pages, January 2008

Table of contents

Foreword: Putting Things in Their Place / Graeme Wynn



Part 1: Deep Time in the Present

1 Fish Lake

2 Prosperity Gold

Part 2: The Horizon of Experience

3 Mackenzie

4 Grease Trails

Part 3: Shadowed Ground

5 Converging towards “Banshee”

6 Chilcotin War



Glossary; Notes; Toponymic Index; General Index


The Archive of Place weaves together a series of narratives about environmental history in a particular location – British Columbia’s Chilcotin Plateau. In the mid-1990s, the Chilcotin was at the centre of three territorial conflicts. Opposing groups, in their struggle to control the fate of the region and its resources, invoked different understandings of its past – and different types of evidence – to justify their actions. These controversies serve as case studies, as William Turkel examines how people interpret material traces to reconstruct past events, the conditions under which such interpretation takes place, and the role that this interpretation plays in historical consciousness and social memory. It is a wide-ranging and original study that extends the span of conventional historical research.


In this unorthodox and intriguing book, William Turkel uses the Chilcotin Plateau, an arid and sparsely settled region of west-central British Columbia, to ask a series of questions about how we acquire and use knowledge of the past.

. .. This is an engaging and rewarding book. Like much recent work in British Columbia history, it writes First Nations people into the general history of the province, a hugely important project for North American histroy more generally.

An amalgam of the material and the representational, the natural and the human, place allows Turkel to move some way toward transcending the old human-environment dichotomy that bedevils the writing of environmental history.

- James Murton