Regulating Eden: The Nature of Order in North American Parks


150 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8182-7
DDC 346.7104'6783





Reviewed by William A. Waiser

William A. Waiser is a professor of history at the University of
Saskatchewan. He is the author of Saskatchewan’s Playground: A History
of Prince Albert National Park and Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of
Western Canada’s National Parks, 1915–1946


In Regulating Eden, Joe Hermer suggests that provincial and state parks
in Canada and the United States are actually carefully maintained
spaces. Not only do visitors seek a kind of “ordered” nature, but
visitor behavior and the interaction with nature are closely monitored
and regulated. He calls this process, “emparkment,” and demonstrates
its application by examining parks services, in particular visitor and
ranger/warden activities. It is a fascinating, if not curious,
phenomenon, and one that most park visitors do not readily recognize,
let alone acknowledge. Indeed, as Hermer suggests, people generally
cooperate in the search for the perfect park experience.

What would have strengthened his argument is a more detailed look at
the historical roots of the phenomenon. In Canada, for example, the
first parks were as much regional playgrounds as nature preserves, and
there has always been intense pressure to develop facilities and roads
to promote tourism. More attention could also have been paid to the
divide that often separates park town sites from the larger park. The
book also raises questions about the national park situation and whether
these so-called special places are any different. Finally, Regulating
Eden reads like a thesis in places and would be more accessible with
less jargon.


Hermer, Joe., “Regulating Eden: The Nature of Order in North American Parks,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,