Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Georeferencing: Canada Copse

As I'm reading Guattari's Schizoanalytic Cartographies, thinking how relevant so much of this book is to personal walking and mapping projects, and potentially to student geoweb writing and maps, I started to look around for some more material for my Georeferencing mini-series.  My gaze honed in upon the Royal Holloway campus itself and a couple of spatial anchors to the landscape of campus that I first noticed upon arriving here over 13 months ago.   These are Canada Copse and Ripley Springs, the subject of two blog posts, including this one.

Canada Copse refers to the large and somewhat centrally located grove of trees and vegetation that crowds towards Founder's Building, Bedford Library, and many other buildings on campus.  Within the Canada Copse is also the Jane Holloway Lecture Hall, which used to be a swimming pool.  Copse refers to 'coppice', a small wood grown for cutting, though I don't think there is much 'coppicing' going on in this area right now.  Coppice is both noun and verb, but copse is itself always, I believe, a noun.

On Geonames I ran a search for place-names including the term 'Canada.'  The single result for the UK is Canada Water station in London, a tube stop.  Canada Copse itself did not come up in the Geonames search.  I know there are other marginal names with Canada in them, such as the gate near Buckingham Palace that includes names from parts of Canada upon it, and that is as a whole, I think, referred to as 'Canada Gate.'  Canada seems to be associated with wilder or forested parts of England, and that would make sense.  We do, on the whole, have a reputation for having forests and so this is what is imprinted upon the popular British imagination when the word 'Canada' is uttered.

Upon entering 'Canada Copse' into the search bar in Google Earth, I was prompted right away with an already existing place-marker, allowing me to zoom into the campus imagery without delay.  The marker is really nothing more than a label, but its existence gives it more presence than, for example, Ripley Springs (another forested part of campus, and the subject of my next blog post).  In terms of presence, there is much more of a human presence in Canada Copse as well, with a well-established network of trails criss-crossing the forest, and well-known entry and exit points at strategic locations near Founder's and Windsor Buildings as well as The Hub.

Before arriving at Royal Holloway, I looked at photos of the campus online and was very impressed.  I joked with people after arriving that the campus 'in the flesh' is even more appealing and beautiful than its representation online, and that it would be easy to imagine the opposite scenario.  Thus one could imagine a campus selling itself as beautiful, with the reality being opposite to its representation.  For example an urban campus that advertises its trees selectively, while leaving out the grey concrete buildings that make up the majority of its material edifice (I don't have any specific urban campus in mind here).  Royal Holloway undoubtedly outstrips its own claims in terms of natural beauty.

I often take breaks from sitting in the office, from which I have great views of the allegedly underutilised Ripley Springs green space, to walk along the paved path from Queen's Building to the Campus Store where I pick up daily (subsidised) papers and snacks for the day.  The green interior of Canada Copse is always refreshing no matter what time of year.  As part of my orientation program upon arriving here we took a tour of the green spaces of campus with some of the groundskeepers who named tree species and described some of the histories of specific parts of the copse.  I just keep falling in love with this part of campus.

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