Guiding the Grand: Journeying into the Grand River's Diverse Histories
MetadataShow full item record
The Grand River is a dynamic force that acts on and within the landscape of its watershed. Through the course of an eleven-thousand-year relationship with humanity, its identity has evolved most dramatically in the last two hundred years. Human understanding of the river has gone from prosperity during early settlement, to adaptation under pressures of increasing mid-century flooding and drought, and now, toward a passive stance that views the river as a valuable resource before an active ecosystem. This most recent attitude wavers only when the river swells and rushes to remind us of its inexorable nature; a power that humanity has historically fought to obtain control over. This thesis work is inspired by the willful words of geographer J.G. Nelson of the University of Waterloo’s Heritage Research Centre; “when people understand and appreciate the long history and special qualities of [the Grand River’s] landscapes, they will be more supportive of their conservation and stewardship”. It is aimed at building on the individual’s relationship with the river, and seeks traction through the underutilized tourism industry of the Grand River. Currently, a handful of paddling and rafting outfitters service the lower reaches of the river, providing guided tours with limited historical content. The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) maintains educational signboards across their various parks, though they are unmapped and rarely updated with new information. Besides this, the GRCA keeps a listing on the national, provincial and local heritage plaques within the watershed to mark a significant person, place or event on the river, however, these do little to adequately reveal the complexities of its history. This thesis proposes an alternative to the fragmented private services and prescriptive plaques, and, instead, uses architectural and landscape design to unify the river and animate aspects of the landscape’s past. The meaningful histories of identity, use and occupation on the Grand River become the basis for designs that draw people into it. Operating as a guidebook to paddling the Grand River, this thesis is organised into a series of five day-trips to be undertaken in a canoe or kayak downstream. The journey begins central to the watershed, at the Shand Dam north of Fergus, and finishes at an abandoned stone mill near Glen Morris. Each trip accounts for 3-6 hours of water travel combined with several portaging stints, arriving by the end of each day at a themed site and campground; Displacing, Unearthing, Restoring, Gathering and Racing the Grand, in sequence. The themes explore aspects of the Grand River’s natural and cultural histories, engaging existing and revived qualities at each site, and encouraging moments of reflection along the journey. In order to experience the river, and to develop an immersive relationship with the capacity to learn from it, this thesis proposes that one must occupy the landscape the same way that the river does – physically, dynamically, and continuously.
Cite this version of the work
Carly Lynn Kandrack (2018). Guiding the Grand: Journeying into the Grand River's Diverse Histories. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13857