We offer two field trips: A human/urban geography field trip and a physical geography field trip (see below for description).
Costs: Each costs a nominal $10 (CAD). Please include this fee in your registration, so we can plan accordingly
Meet Where? Under the arches beside the Chapel (McGreer Building) and Johnson Building
Meet When? Saturday, 3pm sharp (immediately following the Keynote Speaker)
Return time: 6pm
FIELD TRIP 1: Human Geography / Urban Field Trip: Gentrification without conflict and dislocation? University cooperative student housing in downtown Sherbrooke, Québec
Field Trip Leader: Dr. Tom Fletcher, Professor of Environmental Studies and Geography, Bishop’s University
Description: The south side of downtown Sherbrooke has gone through several decades of socio-economic decline with numerous signs of distress, especially on Wellington Street South. A decade ago, the street included numerous strip clubs and other bars that were said to be associated with organized crime. In recent years, Wellington South still has some signs of distress, but considerably fewer than before. The recent establishment of university cooperative student housing (Estudiantine) is the one major change to the built environment there. The university students who live there are not typical gentrifiers in that they rent rather than own and neither do they fit the precise definition of gentrification: an in-migration of higher income earners. University students, after all, live on ‘student budgets’ that often are not higher or, if so, not by much, compared to the original residents of low-income areas with social problems. New York Times columnist A.O. Scott has referred to in-migrants of people on typical student incomes as ‘broke but not really poor’ (2014 AR16) in reference to gentrification in Brooklyn. The point is that student incomes are usually transitional and university students are typically rather more privileged than other residents of areas like the south side of downtown Sherbrooke. Another aspect of gentrification is socio-cultural conflict between original inhabitants and in-migrants associated with class differences; on the south side of downtown Sherbrooke, there is no evidence of such conflict. So it is interesting to consider whether university students are unique in their ability to avoid clashes with, or dislocation of, the original residents of low-income areas. This field trip will aim to show the evidence and outcomes of the Estudiantine development on and around Wellington South by walking around the area and also by visiting a nearby building where a refurbished (and once abandoned) former passenger train station has been repurposed as a bus station with a popular restaurant/bar, Siboire. The discussion will include the role of higher educational institutions in community development as well as whether university students are really gentrifiers at all; regardless, the presence of students in a mixed-use urban area is a useful one to consider for geographers based in higher educational institutions.
FIELD TRIP 2: Physical Geography Field Trip – Johnville Bog & Forest Park
Field Trip Leader: Dr. Matthew Peros, Canada Research Chair in Climate and Environmental Change, Bishop’s University
Description: Located 10 km east of the Bishop’s campus, the Johnville Bog & Forest Park represents a rare ecosystem in the temperate zone of eastern North America. The main feature of the park is the Johnville Bog, a raised peatland that receives all moisture and nutrients from atmospheric sources. The highly acidic bog environment supports a sub-Arctic type vegetation community (including black spruce and tamarack trees) and as such can be seen as a kind of northern “laboratory” where important scientific questions can be examined. Ongoing research efforts by Dr. Peros and his students have focused on answering questions to do with identifying the factors controlling the long-term evolution of this ecosystem, the role that raised bogs play as sources or sinks of atmospheric carbon, and the effects of anthropogenic impacts—namely drainage—on the bog environment itself.
The purpose of the trip will be to introduce participants to this beautiful landscape and discuss its importance in scientific terms but also highlight how it has been used and impacted by the local community. Because of the sensitivity of the bog, the tour will be conducted on dirt paths in the forest and on a boardwalk built through the peatland environment. Appropriate footwear is therefore recommended.