Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia

Jennifer Bonnell


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The subject of wildlife both unites and deeply divides British Columbians. From concern over dwindling orca populations to deeply political debates over hunting and harvesting, questions surrounding fish and wildlife harvest rights and methods, and the effects of industrial resource extraction, tourism, and residential development upon wildlife populations, have produced an atmosphere of conflict and distrust in BC.

Spanning the deep history of human relationships with wildlife, from pre-contact Indigenous land stewardship to the present day, Stewards of Splendour explores the ways that government, Indigenous communities and stakeholder groups have sought to shape and deliver, or responded to the consequences of, wildlife management policies and practices and resource development activities in the province.

Throughout, it emphasizes the circumstances and initiatives that made and continue to make BC different from the astonishing diversity of our ecosystems to our unusually high proportion (over 94%) of public land while profiling instances of made-in-BC approaches.

Drawing upon a rich body of historical, scientific and policy-related literature and over 80 interviews, Stewards of Splendour examines changing societal values around wildlife and the implications of these changes for wildlife managers today.

The Royal Museum Shop is operated by the Royal BC Museum Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise go directly towards supporting the many fine programs and special events at the Royal BC Museum.

September 2023, 496 pages

ISBN 9780772680907


Jennifer Bonnell teaches Canadian and environmental history at York University in Toronto. She is the author of Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of Toronto’s Don River Valley (University of Toronto Press, 2014), which won the Canadian Historical Association/s Clio Prize and Heritage Toronto’s best book award in 2015. For more on her work, visit


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