Energy & Natural Resource Histories
Mining, clearing, and reclaiming the Rocky Mountains and foothills.
This project is funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant and examines the post-Second World War histories of mining, forestry, and land reclamation in Canada’s Rocky Mountains and adjacent foothills. This project employs innovative field and digital methodologies including repeat photography, to study the history of industrial resource development across a mountain chain known globally for its parks and protected areas, natural beauty, and ecological significance. This research will make significant contributions to interconnected international literatures in environmental and energy histories.
Publications and podcasts arising from this project include:
Images courtesy of Mountain Legacy Project and Mary Sanseverino, 2018.
UBC Press, 2009
My first book offered a novel spatial approach to Canadian history with its focus on the large lakes of the northwest: Lake Winnipeg, Lake Athabasca, Great Slave Lake, and Great Bear Lake. These massive freshwater bodies provided opportunities for high-energy industrial resource operations, including uranium and gold mining and commercial fishing operations, to reach ever-farther into subarctic and arctic environments. This book examined how cognitive and material links between human work and nature’s work changed in this process, leading to new ways in which industrial technologies were integrated into the wider environment, with destructive and long-lasting impacts. The Industrial Transformation of Subarctic Canada was recognized with a Clio-North prize from the Canadian Historical Association.
My previous research and writing in energy history appeared in my 2009 book, The Industrial Transformation of Subarctic Canada.
The place of energy in Canadian historiography and particularly the work of Harold Innis is explored in my essay, “Innis, Biss, and Industrial Circuitry in the Canadian North,” in Harold Innis and the North: Appraisals and Contestations, ed. W.J. Buxton. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.
The image shows Cat trains on Great Slave Lake delivering or picking up fuel from the Joliffe Island tank farm, 1953.
Source: Busse/NWT Archives/N-1979-052:0722.