Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge
Nancy Turner has studied Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of plants and environments in northwestern North America for over forty years. In Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge, she integrates her research into a two-volume ethnobotanical tour-de-force.
Drawing on information shared by Indigenous botanical experts and collaborators, the ethnographic and historical record, and from linguistics, palaeobotany, archaeology, phytogeography, and other fields, Turner weaves together a complex understanding of the traditions of use and management of plant resources in this vast region.
She follows Indigenous inhabitants over time and through space, showing how they actively participated in their environments, managed and cultivated valued plant resources, and maintained key habitats that supported their dynamic cultures for thousands of years.
Northern tundra landscape, similar to that possibly encountered by the
earliest peoples in North America.
Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), a species closely associated with the Northwest Coast cultural area.
Bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) bed along the coast of Haida Gwaii, an important marine alga for First Peoples and the foundation of a key coastal ecosystem.
Seaside strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis), likely one of the early coastal plant resources of the Alaska and Haida Gwaii regions.
Highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule), growing in Gitga’at Ts’msyen
Stl’atl’imx elder Edith O’Donaghey, 1988, with medium-sized
coiled cedar-root berry-picking basket.
Tsilhqot’in elder Helena Myers harvesting edible cambium from chendi
(lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta), 1990.
Tsilhqot’in elder Mabel Solomon holding the peeled
budstalks of cow-parsnip (Heracleum maximum), an important
springtime green vegetable widely used in the study region.
The leafstalks are also edible and are often referred to by a
In Expect Miracles, David Culver narrates his journey from his upbringing in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile, through his studies at McGill and Harvard, his army service during the Second World War, to his impressive rise at Alcan to become chairman and chief executive officer of one of Canada’s leading multinational corporations.
The following is a brief excerpt from Culver’s younger years, where he spent summer holidays with his family in La Malbaie.
"Murray Bay, as we called it at the time, sits on the north shore of the St Lawrence, downstream from Quebec City, where the fresh water of the mighty river joins the salt water of the ocean on its way to the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean. Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, Murray Bay had developed into a tourist spot for well-off Americans and Canadians who were thrilled to leave the stifling summer weather of the city for the glorious fresh air and spectacular scenery of Charlevoix County. Remember, those were the days before air conditioning when summer in Montreal or Toronto, let alone New York or Boston, could be intolerable.
Summers at Murray Bay were a formative part of my life. In fact, I have clearer childhood memories of Murray Bay than I do of Montreal. As soon as school ended, we would pile into the family’s grey-tinted Hupmobile for the thirteen-hour drive to Murray Bay.”
“Blue Cottage” at Murray Bay, built by a granddaughter
of Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1896.
Me at age 9, with brother Bronson in the garden at Murray Bay.
Salmon fishing on the Sainte-Marguerite River, 1960s.