An innovative exploration of the interplay between place and its historical representation within culture.
British Columbia's Sumas Lake was drained in the 1920s to create farmlands in the Fraser Valley. This event is the subject of Laura Cameron's Openings, a multifaceted exploration of the complex relationship between place and history. On one level it is a history of a lake and its "reclamation" as seen from the perspectives of various groups - Native people, bureaucrats, families, farmers. On another it is an innovative meditation on the historian's craft, locating the past not only in the fluid process of making oral history and the creative transformation of archival documents but also in the bonds people forge between stories and the places around them.
The "Opening" chapter reflects on the connection between historical and technological frontiers. "Listening for Pleasure" discusses oral histories as they relate to the negotiated and contested space of Sumas Lake. "Margins and Mosquitoes" recovers archival records from Victoria to Ottawa to explore flood-lake involvements federally, provincially, and locally. "Memory Device" moves into the archive of land and waterscapes, looking for connections between place and history, mindful of both Native oral tradition and written accounts of the lake. The concluding chapter, "One More Byte," written from the perspective of a mosquito, attempts to distance this project from the work of modernization while assessing the value of interactive history.
An independent but complementary hypermedia essay "Disappearing a Lake" is located on this website (scroll up) at http://oldwww.mqup.mcgill.ca/files/cameron_laura/