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History Pre-confederation (to 1867)

Moving Natures

Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History

edited by Ben Bradley & Colin M. Coates

contributions by Jay Young, Thomas Peace, Jim Clifford, Judy Burns, Ken Cruikshank, Andrew Watson, Merle Massie, Daniel Macfarlane, Tor H. Oiamo, Don Lafreniere, Joy Parr, J.I. Little, Jessica Dunkin, Elizabeth L. Jewett, Elsa Lam & Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert

University of Calgary Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2016
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Historiography, Environmental Science, History
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    Publish Date
    Jun 2016
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    Publish Date
    Jul 2016
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Mobility - the movements of people, things, and ideas, as well as their associated cultural meanings - has been a key factor in shaping Canadians' perceptions of and interactions with their country. Approaching the burgeoning field of environmental history in Canada through the lens of mobility reveals some of the distinctive ways in which Canadians have come to terms with the country's climate and landscape.
Spanning Canada's diverse regions, throughout its history, from the closing of the age of sail to the contemporary era of just-on-time delivery, Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History examines a wide range of topics, from the impact of seasonal climactic conditions on different transportation modes, to the environmental consequences of building mobility corridors and pathways, to the relationship between changing forms of mobility with tourism and other recreational activities. Contributors make use of traditional archival sources, as well as historical geographic information systems (HGIS), qualitative and quantitative analysis, and critical theory.
This thought-provoking collection divides the intersection of environmental and mobility history into two approaches. The chapters in the first section deal primarily with the construction and productive use of mobility technologies and infrastructure, as well as their environmental constraints and consequences. The chapters in the second section focus on consumers' uses of those vehicles and pathways: on pleasure travel, tourism, and recreational mobility. Together, they highlight three quintessentially Canadian themes: seasonality, links between mobility and natural resource development, and urbanites' experiences of the environment through mobility.

About the authors

BEN BRADLEY is a Grant Notley Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. His research examines the linkages between mobility, landscape, and mass culture in twentieth-century Canada.

Ben Bradley's profile page

JAY YOUNG is outreach officer at the Archives of Ontario and a founding editor of He completed his doctorate at York University in 2012 followed bya SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship in history at McMaster University.

Jay Young's profile page

COLIN M. COATES teaches environmental history and Canadian studies at York University. He is past president of the Canadian Studies Network-Réseau d’études canadiennes and was a member of the executive of NiCHE, the Network in Canadian History and Environment.

Colin M. Coates' profile page

Thomas Peace's profile page

Jim Clifford's profile page

Judy Burns' profile page

Ken Cruikshank, professor of history and former dean of Humanities at McMaster, works on the history of business and of the administrative state in Canada and the United States, particularly between the 1880s and World War II. He is the author of Close Ties: Railways, Government and the Board of Railway Commissioners, 1851–1933.

As long-time research collaborators, Ken and Nancy have focused on the state, the environment and recreation in the history of Hamilton Harbour. In 2016 UBC Press published their The People and the Bay: A Social and Environmental History of Hamilton Harbour, which won the Canadian Historical Association’s 2017 Clio Prize for Ontario regional history.


Ken Cruikshank's profile page

Andrew Watson's profile page

Merle Massie is a Saskatchewan historian and award-winning author of Forest Prairie Edge, raised in Saskatchewan's forest fringe and trained at the University of Saskatchewan. She now lives on the prairies, farming with her husband and writing Saskatchewan stories.

Merle Massie's profile page

Daniel Macfarlane is an Assistant Professor with the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at Western Michigan University. His research examines Canada-US border waters and he is the author of Negotiating a River, Canada, the US and the Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Daniel Macfarlane's profile page

Tor H. Oiamo's profile page

Don Lafreniere's profile page

Joy Parr is a Farley Endowed Professor of History at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of The Gender of Breadwinners, winner of the 1990 Macdonald Prize for the best work in Canadian history.

Joy Parr's profile page

J.I. Little is a professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University, author of Loyalties in Conflict: A Canadian Borderland in War and Rebellion, 1812–1840, and co-author of An Illustrated History of Quebec: Tradition and Modernity.

J.I. Little's profile page

Jessica Dunkin is an independent scholar based in Yellowknife, NT.

Jessica Dunkin's profile page

Elizabeth L. Jewett's profile page

Elsa Lam's profile page

Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert's profile page


  • Winner, Heritage Toronto Historical Writing: Short Publications Award for the chapter "Soils and Subways: Excavating Environments during the Building of Rapid Transit in Toronto, 1944-1968" by Jay Young

Editorial Reviews

This collection puts older themes in a new light, works outside of a nationalist perspective, and offers close readings of cases to make larger observations . . . Many historical geographers and environmental historians will find a great deal of interest within these pages, and the basis for fruitful comparisons with other cases and places.

—Matthew Evenden, Journal of Historical Geography

Moving Natures presents an engaging and thought-provoking introduction to the potential of reimagining the interconnected roles of mobility and the environment in Canadian History

—J.L. Weller, BC Studies

[This] is a welcome intervention in several fields that engage with Canada’s size, including environmental history, mobility studies, science and technology studies, and Canadian social and cultural history. Here, dominant narratives of transportation networks as annihilators of Canadian distances are complicated and decentralized by prying open the black boxes of mobility studies and environmental history with the crowbars of the other . . . The result is a well-rounded set of twelve interdisciplinary stories that address both the impact of mobility networks on the environment as well as changing perceptions of the environment when viewed from different transportation platforms.

—Blair Stein, Scientia Canadensis

This excellent collection should be seen as an initial step towards the refinement of mobility as a historical concept and a greater unpacking of mobility histories.

—Alan Gordan, The Journal of Transport History

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