Spirit, hardship, and opportunity: narrating imperial adventure in early twentieth-century British Columbia




Moore, Elaine Rita

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Critical examination of gendered and racialized encounters between people and landscapes highlights the varied ways in which individuals respond to complex and multifaceted discourses. By analyzing an archive of letters and photographs generated by a single individual (David Inglis McDowell) I reveal the relationship between experience and discourse in the Skeena region of northwestern British Columbia at the turn of the twentieth century. I examine McDowell's representations of people of various origins and class backgrounds and his portrayal of both the natural and created environments through which he travelled and how these shaped the way he saw himself and others. This work contributes to the growing scholarship which views everyday lives as key sources of knowledge concerning broader social processes. I uncover the process of mythmaking and reveal that the story told by Skeena region settlers was one of conquering the wilderness and promoting progress-a frontier myth that still endures.



David Inglis McDowell, Skeena River Region, 20th century, British Columbia