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History General

Northern Visions

New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History

edited by Kerry Abel & Ken Coates

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2001
General, North America, Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2001
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    Publish Date
    Mar 2001
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Outstanding Academic Title, 2002 - Choice

Canadian nationalists in the 19th century argued that the North, with its extremes of winter, distance and isolation defined the country's essential character and gave its population the resolve and determination necessary to create a prosperous nation. Promoters lauded its enormous economic potential while cursing its vast expanses and dangerous winters. Novelists, poets and painters were awestruck by its boundless reaches and environmental diversity. Today, the North retains its complex place within the Canadian psyche, at once celebrated as the very essence of the nation, while being largely ignored by a population that clings to the Canada-USA border. Many have debated its significance in Canada's history, and have attempted to bring the region to the attention of the rest of the country by carving out a niche for norther history within the academic curriculum. The current generation of historians has a more ambitious and complex agenda. While they are interested in the North for its own sake, they also firmly believe that the study and teaching of Canadian history as a whole does not currently recognize the North's importance to the development of the nation.

Northern Visions, by bringing together a variety of perspectives on the history of the North in Canada, raises new questions and challenges existing ideas. Provocative in their interpretations, these essays do not point to a single path forward in the writing of regional history, but instead suggest that it is time to rethink some of our basic conceptions—and misconceptions—about the North. Northern Visions calls upon historians of both region and nation to broaden their range of research, to connect regional developments to activities in other northern regions of the world, and to think much more widely about the place of the North in the understanding of Canada's past.

About the authors

Kerry Abel is Professor of History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her publications include Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History. She is currently completing an historical study of a sub-region of Northeastern Ontario that includes Timmins, Iroquois Falls, and Matheson.

Kerry Abel's profile page

Ken Coates was raised in Whitehorse and has a long-standing interest in northern themes.  Titles include Canada’s Colonies, The Sinking of the Princess Sophia (with Bill Morrison), The Modern North (with Judith Powell), North to Alaska (on the building of the Alaska Highway) and many academic books.  He has worked on north-centred television documentaries and served as a consultant to northern governments and organizations.  He is currently Professor of History and Dean of Arts, University of Waterloo.


Ken Coates' profile page

Other titles by Kerry Abel

Other titles by Ken Coates