GEOG 312 – Field Trip Adventures

The GEOG 312 class travelled to the BC Interior October 5th – 6th, exploring human-environment relations of our colonial past and our transformation to a globally-integrated capitalist economy. A few highlights include: (1) exploring Alexandra Provincial Park, discussing power dynamics between colonial officials and First Nations communities, and their varied understandings of the environment and development; (2) an informative talk by Robin Strong, Xaxli’p Community Forest Manager, and a visit to an eco-cultural restoration site; and (3) an awe-inspiring visit to the Highland Valley Copper mine and tailings pond. The class particularly enjoyed our visit with Robin and are thankful for her time and knowledge shared. After the visit Robin wrote indicating: “I wanted to say how impressed I was by your class, and thank you for coming to visit us. Your course is like, “lets bring up all the controversial subjects and think about them.” I was inspired by your student’s convictions, enthusiasm, and ideas. Thank-you for taking on the task of tackling such a broad topic, which really is about critical thinking, and deep thinking. And thank you to the students for sharing their ideas with me.”


Central BC coast may have been a viable migration route to Americas, new research shows

UFV Geography and Environment BSc students Jordan Bryce (foreground) and Travis Gingerich survey the topography of the landscape on Calvert Island (BC central coast), in summer 2015, in preparation for sampling of bedrock outcrops for surface exposure dating.


Was there a prehistoric superhighway used by ancient peoples to migrate south from North-east Russia to the Americas? And if so, where was it?

Research involving UFV earth scientist Olav Lian and his students in a region centred on B.C.’s Calvert Island suggests that the central coast of BC was ice-free by about 17,700 years ago, earlier than previously thought. The estimated timing of retreat of the western margin of the ice sheet means ancient people may have used a coastal route to migrate south into the Americas. Some higher locations were exposed even earlier. This is important, because it suggests an early route along the western coastline of Canada might have been viable well before an alternative, inland route.

Which route was used — and when — remains a highly contentious topic amongst archaeologists and geologists.

Lian and his students worked with British (University of Manchester), Canadian (University of Northern BC), and American (Tulane and Purdue universities) colleagues to conduct surface exposure dating, a technique that can be used to determine how long quartz-bearing rock has been exposed to high-energy particles from space.

Dr. Olav Lian

The findings should help archaeologists target regions for investigations tracing the migration pathways of early people into the Americas.

“We show that the western margin of the ice sheet retreated earlier than previously thought,” notes the summary prepared by the researchers. “Other margins of the ice sheet advanced later, creating a complex picture through time. The early retreat of the western ice margin exposed numerous islands that could have been used by early people migrating southward.”

Lian had been working on Calvert Island through his association with the Hakai Institute, which is based there, for several years previous to this study. He introduced his colleagues to the site, and suggested locations on the mountaintops from which to take samples.

The samples were then processed in a surface exposure dating laboratory at Tulane University in Louisiana.

“The area around Calvert Island on the British Columbia west coast, where we conducted this research, is important because archeologists recently found ancient footprints there that formed about 13,000 years ago, younger than the time we are estimating that the ice receded,” says Lian.

Bedrock samples being cut from an outcrop for exposure dating using an angle grinder.

“This area of the coast seems to have been very important to the early peoples of these regions. It would have had year-round access to food sources. The change to sea level was minimal in this region, compared to other areas during the ice age. It might have been a good place to live and wait out the crazy adjustment of the landscape that followed the ice age.”

Reflecting UFV’s commitment to involving undergraduate students in research, several were involved in this project, including Travis Gingerich, who worked with Lian on Calvert Island during the summers of 2015 and 2017. Gingerich graduated from UFV this year, and is now pursuing his master’s degree and continuing his research at Simon Fraser University.

“It was an awesome and amazing experience to get so much exposure to field and lab research at the undergraduate level,” notes Gingerich. “It encouraged me to continue in this area of study.”

The team’s findings were recently published in a paper entitled Retreat of the western Cordilleran Ice Sheet margin during the last deglaciation in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a prominent journal of the American Geophysical Union that rapidly publishes research on major advances in the earth and atmospheric sciences. Its target readership include the scientific community and the general public.

The research received funding from the Tula FoundationNatural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery grants program, Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.



To view original article please click here.

AGUS Fall Fundraiser

The Association of Geography Undergrad Students will be holding their 3rd Annual Fall Fundraiser! October 4th at Townhall Public House (33720 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford)

Ticket are $20. Price includes a beef, chicken or veggie burger with fries and your choice of beverage.

Lots of different opportunities to win great prizes, including a 4-credit course at UFV!

Contact an AGUS executive by emailing or Leah Sperling, Department Assistant for Geography and the Environment at

We hope to see you there!


Hope new affordable housing will draw more people to Chilliwack

(click here to see full news article)

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – It’s not just about drawing more Metro Vancouver commuters to the Fraser Valley.

That’s what the mayor of Chilliwack is saying about plans to revitalize her city’s downtown core.

Sharon Gaetz says the goal is to make Chilliwack a place more people want to call home — without compromising the resources responsible for growth in the past.

“It really is preparing to have at least another 134 families move in to our area, so we’re limited by the kind of development we can have because of farmland,” she says. “Preserve the farmland. One in five jobs is directly related to agriculture, so there are limited areas for people to actually move into, so a lot of the development that we’re seeing is a re-development and in-fill development.”

She says Chilliwack is a community that boasts a lot of “natural amenities”, like Cultus Lake, mountains and rivers. “So we are seeing a lot of people relocate.”

Gaetz doesn’t see growth slowing down any time soon — but she admits it is slower than she would like to see.

“Downtowns have been very difficult for most communities to revitalize because they’re so complex. So much about downtown is about shopping patterns, and downtowns used to be the place where everybody went to buy their retail. So what we have determined in our consultations with economic advisers and real estate gurus is that we needed to redevelop the downtown to have a mix of retail and residences.”

An associate professor of geography at the University of the Fraser Valley — Cherie Enns — says it’s also important to make sure new growth happens at a sustainable pace.

“Focus on ways to create more employment opportunities, alternative forms of work and to really address the environmental issues that can come through increasing commuting.”

She adds another goal should be to draw more millenials to Chilliwack.

“They may be the ones that are beginning to have children. They’re the ones often seen as more innovative and creative.”

Enns says a recent study showed millennials consider Chilliwack and the Township of Langley one of Canada’s five worst cities to live.

Fall Registration

Fall registration is quickly filling up – consider taking GEOG 312 – Political Ecology. This course looks at examining the way social and political factors influence human interaction with the environment, and unequal distribution of natural resource wealth.

This course will be offered in the fall semester on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 2:30 – 4:40pm. Sign up now!

If you are interested in the course but want more information contact the GATE department assistant for more information.