The colony that became Ontario arose almost spontaneously out of the confusion and uncertainty following the American Revolution, as a quickly chosen refuge for some 10,000 Loyalists who had to leave their former homes. After the War of 1812 settlers began to spread throughout the inter-lake peninsula that was to become southern Ontario and by the middle of the nineteenth century expansion had led to a diversifying agriculture and an increasingly open farming landscape that replaced a mature forest ecosystem. The scale of the change from forest to cropland profoundly affected what had been for many decades a rich environment for life forms, from large herbivores down to microscopic creatures. In Making Ontario David Wood shows that the most effective agent of change in the first century of Ontario's development was not the locomotive but settlers' attempts to change the forest into agricultural land.
Wood traces the various threads that went into creating a successful farming colony while documenting the sacrifice of the forest ecosystem to the demands of progress, progress that prepared the ground for the railway. Making Ontario provides a detailed focus on environmental modification at a time of great changes. It is liberally illustrated with analytical maps based on archival research.
"The strength of the book is its capacity to draw together the considerable body of diverse scholarly writing that has been produced over the past two decades and to set his into a framework that permits the reader to see Ontario's first generation ... of settlement for what it was." Peter Ennals, VP Academic and Research, Mount Allison University.
"Making Ontario is a highly interesting synthesis of Ontario's colonization and of the implementation of the constituent elements that would lead to the province's socioeconomics ... Wood's significant synthesis, and approach of historical geography is a valued spatial contextualisation, illustrating the subtleties involved in Ontario's development during the first half of the 19th century." Jean-Claude Robert, Department of History, Université du Québec à Montréal.