This is the seventh post in a series called “From the Outside In,” about the experiences of teaching and researching Canadian environmental history by scholars from other countries.
In conversations with Canadians I’ve sometimes detected what to a Dane with a passion for Canadian society and culture is a perplexing diffidence regarding the youthfulness, even the unsophisticated quality of heritage imprint of settler society on the Canadian environment. The suggestion is that European cultural heritage (of the “Old World”) is richer in authenticity; older and therefore more venerable, somehow. Conversely, many Europeans are likely to be awestruck about the authentic “wildness” of the Canadian natural environment compared to the often very “cultured” environments in which our heritage sites are located. But a closer exploration of two sites in Canada and Denmark suggests that the relationship between environment and public heritage is more complex and more subtle.