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Lost in the BackwoodsScots and the North American Wilderness$
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Jenni Calder

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748647392

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748647392.001.0001

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The Hope of the World?

The Hope of the World?

(p.198) 8 The Hope of the World?
Lost in the Backwoods

Jenni Calder

Edinburgh University Press

By the late 1850s, the threats to natural wilderness were already apparent, with ranching, mining, tree felling and the damming of rivers beginning to take place on a massive scale. A key figure in identifying and combating these threats was John Muir, and this chapter begins with an examination of his conservation work and his mission to preserve and publicise the regenerative potential of wilderness. It goes on to discuss some later interpretations of the Scottish encounter with particularly the Canadian wilderness, where the Scottish impact is most prominent. Among authors considered are Margaret Laurence, Hugh MacLennan, Alice Munro, Alistair Macleod, Alexander Macleod and Margaret Elphinstone. It examines recurring themes of loss and displacement, which link Scottish and North American experience, and explores the continuing impact of natural wilderness and the man-made wilderness that has often displaced it. The conclusion suggests that Scottish experience of the wild, a key aspect of Scottish and British imperial activity, deeply imprinted responses to pioneering history on both sides of the Atlantic, responses that remain ambivalent, often contradictory, but a continuing source of creative endeavour.

Keywords:   conservation, John Muir, Margaret Laurence, Hugh MacLennan, Alice Munro, Alistair MacLeod, Alexander MacLeod, Margaret Elphinstone, pioneering legacy

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