Eileen Delehanty Pearkes is a published author and skilled public speaker. Her artistic eye and lyrical style bring Western landscapes and their cultural history to life. She explores landscape and the human imagination in conference presentations, books, essays and online media.
Born in the United States, educated at Stanford University (B.A., English) and the University of British Columbia (M.A., English), Eileen has been a resident of Canada since 1985. Her biography, education and academic interests, as well as her perspective on landscape, water and culture, are all uniquely bi-national and firmly grounded in place.
As a public speaker, Eileen focuses on the natural history and human culture of the Columbia River landscape, the fourth largest watershed by volume in North America. A 1964 treaty between Canada and the U.S. resulted in the construction of three large storage dams in British Columbia to protect U.S. farmland and urban centers from spring floods. These dams displaced thousands of settlers, inundated archaeological sites of indigenous people and upended the ecosystem. With the Columbia River Treaty currently under review, Eileen’s extensive knowledge and understanding of the social and ecological losses stemming from these projects provides important information to guide future decisions.
Publications include: A River Captured, the Columbia River Treaty and catastrophic change (Rocky Mountain Books, 2016); The Geography of Memory (Kutenai House Press, 2002, second printing 2010); Heart of the River (pb&j press, 2004; second edition 2015); The Inner Green (Maa Press, 2005), River of Memory (edited by William D. Layman; UBC Press, 2006), The Glass Seed (Timeless Books, 2007), and Several essays have been published by Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe & Mail. Anthologies include Going Some Place (Coteau Books, 2000) and Facts and Arguments, Selected Essays from the Globe & Mail (2002). From 2002-2009, she wrote for the award-winning yoga magazine ascent, with an essay anthologized in Inspired Lives, the best of real life yoga from ascent magazine (timeless books: 2005). She was also invited to contribute to The Purcell Suite (2007), and Seasonings (2010), books that emphasize the value of local culture and landscape.
In 2014, Eileen guest-curated an extensive exhibit on the history of the Upper Columbia River system for Touchstones Nelson and Columbia Basin Trust, with specific reference to dramatic ecological changes as a result of water storage dams required by the Columbia River Treaty (1961-64). The exhibit won a 2015 Canadian Museum Association award of excellence. She writes two popular columns on Canadian landscape, water policy and indigenous history for The North Columbia Monthly and the online news website, The Nelson Daily. In 2017, she was appointed the City of Nelson 2017 Cultural Ambassador.