The Object’s the Thing

R. Yorke Edwards; edited by Robert A. Cannings & Richard Kool, with a foreword by Bob Peart


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R. Yorke Edwards was a pioneer in the field of heritage interpretation in Canada. First with BC Parks and then with the Canadian Wildlife Service, throughout the 1960s Edwards developed an approach to the interpretation of natural and cultural history with a focus on the “real thing”—the object, the place, the process, the person—in front of a visitor.

Almost everyone who has visited a Canadian park or museum has been touched by Edwards’s legacy—but few know his name. Through essays and photographs, a biography and sections from Edwards’s unpublished notebook, The Object’s the Thing introduces “the father of nature interpretation in Canada,” whose work still affects how we experience our heritage today.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.

May 2021, PB, 336 pages

ISBN 9780772678515


For almost half a century Yorke Edwards was a pioneer in wildlife biology, nature education, conservation, and museum life, stimulating people to think more deeply about the world and our place in it.

Rick Kool began his professional life as a secondary school science teacher before joining the Royal BC Museum as an education officer, ending his time there as director of public programs. He was the environmental education coordinator for the BC Ministry of Environment and co-ordinated park interpretation within BC Parks before joining Royal Roads University in 2003, when he established their MA in Environmental Education and Communication program. Rick is now a professor in RRU’s School of Environment and Sustainability.

Rob Cannings is curator emeritus at the Royal BC Museum, where he was curator of entomology from 1980 to 2013 and managed the natural history section from 1987 to 1996. Earlier, he was a biologist and nature interpreter for BC Parks and the Canadian Wildlife Service. He is a fellow of Okanagan College and a recipient of the Bruce Naylor Award, which recognizes exceptional contributions to the study of museum-based natural history in Canada.

Bob Peart was assistant director for research and public programs at the Royal BC Museum from 1985 to 1988 and has spent his life working and volunteering to conserve and protect wildlife, their habitats, and the natural world he loves. His time with Yorke spanned decades and influenced his approach to conservation education.


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