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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Chilliwack Valley continuum : a search for a Canadian land ethic Arnett, Terrence Charles


In the attempt to formulate a statement of the Canadian land ethic (if that can even be accomplished), it was decided one area had to be focused upon — that landscape is the Chilliwack Valley. The description of the factors contributing to the historical layering (or continuum) of the valley has been organized into five chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the required theory and methodology. Since this is the first attempt at an analysis of British Columbian environmental history (based on a geographically finite area), various approaches in understanding the processes of alteration and accumulation which were found helpful have been outlined. The theory found most useful suggests landscape can only be understood if the ideologies associated with spatial topics of wilderness, pastoral, and urbanism are examined. The second is an objective presentation of events which resulted in physical alteration of the valley from its primeval state to its recent urbanization. Seven chronological periods have been identified beginning with prehistory' s geomorphology, synecology and aboriginal culture, and ending with the period from post World War II to 1971. The text is supported by a series of ten maps. The third chapter outlines a theory of cultural diffusion which has determined the expectations of the various settlers to the valley. Due to the limited time and resources available, those aspects of world heritage which filtered to Chilliwack with the British received particular attention. This could be justified because by official, cultural, and individual influence, these concepts have set the matrix for what has occurred in the valley in the past few centuries. Contributions examined include the natural landscape, the village, and the garden city. Each was analyzed for origins, evolution, and dispersal to this continent (and eventually to Chilliwack). A model of idea diffusion has been abstracted to gain a more complete grasp of Canadian roots. The fourth is primary research into the modus operandi behind Chilliwackian landscape alteration. The values and ideals of successive generations of inhabitants have been discussed and their effect upon the land described. Human influence can be subdivided into four groupings including: Stalo responses to the indigenous landscape based upon a 10,000 year residency and a culture closely allied with nature; responses to the landscape by colonists who transferred an existing cultural infrastructure from Europe; responses influenced by contemporary environment solutions circulated throughout the world (both environmentally sensitive and solutions which disregard natural systems); and responses to the indigenous landscape by Chilliwackians, which reflect the emerging Canadian land ethic. The final chapter revolves around a discussion of Chilliwack's future. It offers a vision of what the future might be for coming generations if the trends indicated by both the legacy of the past and by new pressures facing the valley's limited space and resources are not controlled. Historical precedent for the land controls which offer the only hope for the valley is given. An analysis of the purpose and functioning of-the British Columbia Land Commission follows. In the summary, two observations are made. First, the Chilliwack Valley's mountainous containment coupled with the presence of an advanced civilization should result in the whole valley being regarded as a park for the benefit of both metro and valley residents. Its original perception as the "Garden of Eden" may yet be salvaged for future centuries to enjoy. The second observation is that a Canadian land ethic seems to be slowly emerging, which may come to rely upon Canadian imagery, both historical and natural, for design inspiration.

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