Pelee Island ferry, ON (Photo by Don Taves)

Pelee Island ferry, ON (Photo by Don Taves)

A Once and Future Great Lakes Country

New book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the Great Lakes Region

A Once and Future Great Lakes Country (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013)

A Once and Future Great Lakes Country (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013)

In his recent book, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) Chief Science Officer and National Director of Conservation Operations, John Riley, presents a detailed accounting of the geologic, natural and human history of the Great Lakes Region – an area that, according to Riley, “now supports a population of more than forty-five million and a shared annual economy of more than $1 trillion. It is a place that is open to the continent, and now to the world, more of a crossroads than anything separate or insular.”

Past, present and future

Divided into three sections, A Once and Future Great Lakes Country opens with a section called “The Land and What Happened to It.” Here, Riley explores Aboriginal land use, “in particular as a guide to an ancient circle of relations that is of increasing interest today.”

The second part of the book, “Voices of Nature Past,” examines “the trauma that occurred as the result of our assumption of the region’s lands and waters, fish and wildlife, and forests and prairies.” The stories are told through the voices of visitors, first peoples, explorers and surveyors, “who left us first-hand accounts of a series of profound ecological transformations.”

The third section, “Nature’s Prospect,” asks how Great Lakes country has changed since its early settlement in the 18th century.

Cautious optimism

Despite centuries of human use and land management, Riley’s assessment of the Great Lakes Region in its present state is cautiously optimistic:

“On balance, the evidence to date across Great Lakes country suggests that we have reinvested well. In comparison with a century ago, there is now more forest cover, cleaner water, recovering native biota, and an improved quality of life. It is nothing like the original ‘paradise,’ but there are many new and ambitious environmental policies and pursuits, restoring some of the region’s ecological integrity even while we intensify development in some parts of it.”

Praise for A Once and Future Great Lakes Country

In the preface to A Once and Future Great Lakes Country, Ramsey Cook writes: “John Riley has written the book I once thought I might write...His knowledge, practical experience, and determination make this a singular work that combines historical scholarship, scientific understanding, and subtle, low-key advocacy.”

More on the book here >

Supporter Spotlight

http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-you-can-do/donate/Monthly_gift.html