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Nature Environmental Conservation & Protection

Fish Wars and Trout Travesties

Saving Southern Alberta's Coldwater Streams in the 1920s

by (author) George Colpitts

Athabasca University Press
Initial publish date
May 2019
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Conservatism & Liberalism
Recommended Age
16 to 18
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price

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Today, efforts at environmental protection commonly take the form of “top-down” measures, in which overarching plans, usually based on scientific reports, are implemented through environmental legislation, which is then enforced at the local level. Fish Wars and Trout Travesties offers an instructive glimpse into an earlier era, before the state assumed its present degree of regulatory control over the environment. In southern Alberta of the 1920s, townspeople and civic leaders took a spirited interest in the management of their local rivers and streams and often held strong opinions about which species of fish should be conserved and by what methods. Often these opinions reflected a growing division between the traditional, rural understanding of nature as the means to survival and an emerging urban conception of nature as recreational space. Such conflicting perspectives — founded as they were, on differing views about the relationship of human beings to the natural world — meant that local debates could be quite heated.

Whereas previous histories of conservation in the province have been told through the eyes of its institutions, such as the Alberta Fish and Game Association, Colpitts draws on rarely-consulted historical documents in an effort to tease out the “fault lines” within conservation practice. As he demonstrates, the move for conservation described in Fish Wars was largely a grassroots phenomenon, and the rules that the state subsequently formulated were often the result of pressures from below.

About the author

George Colpitts is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Calgary. He has published five books, as well as contributing numerous chapters and journal articles to academic publications. Colpitts is the winner of both the American Society for Ethnohistory's 2012 Robert F. Heizer Prize and the 2010 Frederick C. Luebke Award for outstanding regional scholarship.

George Colpitts' profile page