Kool publishes book with Royal BC Museum

Dr. Richard Kool
The Object's the Thing

R. Yorke Edwards was the fifth Director of the BC Provincial Museum (BCPM) (now the Royal BC Museum (RBCM)), and the individual responsible for founding and then developing the field of park, and more broadly, heritiage interpretation in Canada. In his own words, "Interpretation is any communication process designed to reveal meanings and relationships of cultural and natural heritage to the public, through first-hand involvement with an object, artifact, landscape or site."

Dr. Richard Kool, Professor in the RRU School of Environment and Sustainability who worked for Yorke Edwards in the laste 1970s and early 1980s, and Dr. Rob Cannings, curator emeritus of Entonomolgy at the RBCM, were both infleunced by Yorke's clear reverence for nature and natural spaces, and his commitment to communicate to park and museum visitors in ways that might reveal the less-obvious meaning of the landscapes, organisms and artifacts we are surrounded by. More than a decade after his death, Rick and Rob have assembled a collection of Yorke's unpublished or marginally published writings that reveal the thinking of the man along with the growth of interpretation as a field.

The book begins with Rob's brief biography of Yorke, followed by Rick's essay on Yorke and the development of interpretation. The rest of the book presents Yorke's writings, first as a teenager in Toronto who published in Canadian Nature, then about his work with BC Parks, followed by writings from ONtario where he was recruited to the Canadian Wildlife Service, and finally from his time at the Director of the BCPM.

Yorke's focus was always on "the real thing", be it an object or speciment in a museum, a landscape or geological feature, a process one can see occuring, or a person one can encounter. His writings, virtually unknown to most heritage interpreters in Canada, nonetheless sit invisibly at the core of their professional practice.  His focus on "the real thing" and activities meant to reveal meaning and relationships are, in some ways in tension with the current proclivity of environmetnal communicators and educators to encourage the use of "screens". He wasn't a fan of TV, and wouldn't even let his interpreters use slide shows!

Yorke Edwards had a powerful influence on the life of the two authors of this  volume; both authors are honoured by this opportunity to restore Yorke, his wonderful writing and his expansive theorizing to a new generation and wide audience.

The book will be released on 7 May. To order a copy of the book, go to: https://publications.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/product/the-objects-the-thing/