I publish books and articles in leading journals, such as the Canadian Historical Review and the International Journal of the History of Sport, that advance arts and humanities scholarship to understand Canada's past and present.
My upcoming book Uplift: Visual Culture at the Banff School of Fine Arts (University of British Columbia Press, 2020), co-authored with Dr. Karen Wall, explores art education and tourism in Banff National Park as influences on civil society and democracy connected to the formation of today's Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (see "Activities" for books).
My book Climber's Paradise: Making Canada's Mountain Parks, 1906-1974 (University of Alberta Press, 2014) investigates the Alpine Club of Canada's role in mountaineering and the politics of parks. It was awarded the prestigious Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Prize. My first book was Mountain Diaries: The Alpine Adventures of Margaret Fleming, 1929-1980 (Historical Society of Alberta, 2004), co-edited with Karen Fox. Both titles were Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival finalists.
Mountain parks and the Canadian national park idea are a key focus in my research. Cultural production of parks and landscapes through many means, from mountaineering and hydro dams to artwork and horse travel, is the compass of my exploration. Major institutions including the Banff School of Fine Arts, Alpine Club of Canada, and Parks Canada, as well as individuals, such as surveyor Arthur Oliver Wheeler and educator Donald Cameron, are central to my work. Writers Elizabeth Parker, Mary Schäffer, and Margaret Fleming figure in my expertise on women in alpine clubs, mountain travel, and conservation in Canada. Diverse topics of investigation have ranged from adult education and tourism to mapping and toponymy.
My recent research also focuses on people and parks in the environmental history and social history of the west. The Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park interests my new work on landscapes and Olympic legacy.The origins of the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival, Olympic ski venues, youth programs, outdoor swimming pools, Edmonton Gyro playgrounds, Mill Creek Park, children's history of play, and nature play are other recent subjects. Winter cities are a focus of my Edmonton recreation work. Leisure studies of 'slow' movements also figure in my Edmonton adult education research. Urban biophilia and sustainability themes run through this work. Currently I am working with two MA students: Linnea Bell is documenting stories of people and places in the Beaver Hills, and Tyree McCrackin is examining aspects of Nordic ski history in Alberta.
My scholarship examines cultural landscapes, governance, and commemoration. It historicizes people and parks as well as sense of place and heritage. Landscapes are temporally and cross-culturally discursive places of social memory. Reading cultural production through outdoor pursuits in landscapes suggests the complex constructions of identities, place, region, and nation synthesized through the historical movement of people and ideas. Voluntary sector roles among clubs and NGOs also emerge in my studies.
Heritage, museums, and public history intrigue me. My heritage studies research and advocacy for public history involves many sites and persons. These encompass the UNESCO Beaver Hills Biosphere, Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Elizabeth Parker and A.O. Wheeler as Persons of National Historic Significance (HSMBC), the original Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Swimming Pool in Edmonton, and the historic Rossdale Power Plant in Edmonton's river valley. Commemoration and education are a special focus. I contributed to the Tipton Playground Exhibition community heritage initiative as a project co-funded by Kule Institute of Advanced Study (KIAS) and other public grants.