Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Nature Horses

Resettling the Range

Animals, Ecologies, and Human Communities in British Columbia

by (author) John Thistle

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2015
Horses, Insects & Spiders, Plains & Prairies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2015
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The ranchers who resettled British Columbia’s interior in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries depended on grassland for their cattle, but in this they faced some unlikely competition from grasshoppers and wild horses. With the help of the government, settlers resolved to rid the range of both. Resettling the Range explores the ecology and history of the grasslands and the people who lived there by looking closely at these eradication efforts. In the process, the author uncovers in claims of “range improvement” and “rational land use” more complicated stories of dispossession and marginalization.

About the author


  • Winner, KD Srivastava Award
  • Winner, Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia, UBC Library
  • Short-listed, Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize, BC Book Prizes

Contributor Notes

John Thistle is a research associate at the Labrador Institute at Memorial University.

Editorial Reviews

At a time when climate change threatens a host of populations at the margins, Thistle’s work represents a welcome addition to a body of literature that documents the efforts of humans to improve upon nature and the consequences for the planet and its inhabitants.

Pacific Northwest Quarterly

Resettling the Range is clearly written, and its argument is convincingly based in archival sources and relevant secondary material. In addition to the researched narrative, this book is enhanced by an insightful foreword by renowned environmental historian Graeme Wynn and by Thistle's own excellent conclusion, which reaches beyond his central historical argument ... I thoroughly enjoyed Resettling the Range, with its penetrating insights into the capitalist view of land as commodity. Sadly, Thistle's lesson about the human readiness to use lethal options to combat non-human threats has far too many parallels elsewhere.

BC Studies

Layer upon layer of history and ecological change are writ large on the map of B.C. Resettling the Range is very much a story about our relationship with animals, landscapes, indigenous peoples and their pursuit of aboriginal rights. Environmental historian John Thistle has generated a necessary and thorough study of rancher settlement, the ranching industry’s interactions with grasslands and the effects of ranching on First Nations peoples, most of whom were dispossessed from access to grasslands – a profound rangeland legacy that lives with us still.

BC Booklook, January 11, 2016

Thistle’s richly researched, interesting, and tightly argued book will be of enormous value to anyone who teaches or researches Canadian environmental history.

Pacific Historical Review

Thistle writes powerfully about First Nations dispossession at the hands of ranchers and regulators. A variety of national and international forces intersect in his story, including confederation, the railway, capitalism, improvement, and efficiency … While this book will undoubtedly find a place on the shelves of environmental historians and historians of British Columbia, it is also of interest to those studying the history of science, indigenous history, and Canadian history more broadly. In placing BC’s grassland ecology in conversation with interactions between First Nations and settlers, small-holders and monopolists, the province and the nation, and the nation and the world, this book represents an important contribution to the field.