Yorke Edwards: Pioneer of Heritage Interpretation in Canada

Portrait of Yorke Edwards

In the spring of 2021, the Royal British Columbia Museum published a very important book, titled “The Writings of Yorke Edwards A Pioneer of Heritage Interpretation in Canada” authored by Richard Kool and Robert Cannings. I had been given a copy to review, but I wanted to explore some questions I had after reading it. In particular, I was intrigued to know what motivated Rick and Rob to produce the book and what the relevance of Edwards was to field of heritage interpretation today. After all, nearly all of Yorke’s work in the field was done between 1960 and 1980.

In his introduction to the book, Rick offers an apology for not getting to know Yorke better while working at the museum. I share a similar regret. Back in the late 1990s, more than a decade after his retirement, I reached out to Yorke to interview him for a book I was writing about the threats to Canada’s national parks. I recall sitting in his book-lined study, sipping tea and listening to his views on the subject. His love for the natural world and the need for better protection of it was amply evident.

Not long after a couple of these chats, I dove into writing my book and did not continue to get to know Yorke better despite the fact that he lived a few blocks away. I guess I just didn’t understand and appreciate what he represented.

Rob Cannings has done a wonderful job of pulling together a concise biography of Yorke that helps illuminate the character and accomplishments of this remarkable individual.

To make up for being too focused on my book project and for not getting to know Yorke better, I felt the need to make some kind of amends. My way of doing this is to help promote the book by Rick and Rob by producing the following video from an interview with Rick shortly after the book’s launch.

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