"We Embrace Winter Here": Place and Placemaking in Winter Cities

  • Author / Creator
    Stout, Madeleine
  • The concept of ‘winter cities’ speaks to a particular relationship between place and winter. However, winter cities are largely under examined in urban research, particularly Canadian cities. This thesis asks what type of place is a winter city and what types of placemaking occur in this context? Using a multi-case study design, this thesis examines three self-described winter cities: Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Through semi-structured interviews and participant observation, this thesis develops a discursive account of winter city places and placemaking. This thesis is informed by influential theorizations of place by Relph (1976; 2016), Massey (1994), and Cresswell (2009; 2015) and develops linkages with conceptualizations of weather place (Vannini et al, 2012).

    Winter cities are weather places: the weather has a particularly profound effect on our experience of winter cities, and in turn winter cities have a profound effect on our experience of weather. Historically, the confluence of modernism, suburbanization, and deindustrialization resulted in city planning and infrastructure which was insensitive to local weather conditions. Today, this thesis finds that winter cities are shaped by an imperative to celebrate winter through addressing its challenges and realizing its opportunities. Winter cities are sites of authentic, place-specific celebration via direct engagement with winter weather through outdoor public space, recreation, and festivals.

    In this context, placemaking must remain attentive to the specifics of place. While contemporary festivals are often deployed as instruments of neoliberal place branding and marketing exercises, placemaking in winter cities has not prioritized external parties at the expense of community benefits. Specifically, in winter cities, festivals seek to tell authentic stories about place and culture. They are a site for challenging negative perceptions of winter, locally and more broadly. Winter festivals (and winter cities more generally) navigate the interplay of warm and cold, indoor and outdoor spaces, and light and dark in order to celebrate winter. While these festivals are incorporated into marketing a unique place identity, they are primarily concerned with community celebration.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.