Nature’s Past – Episode 12: Industrialization in Subarctic Environments

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Nature’s Past Episode 12 – click to play | right click, ‘save as’ to download

Between 1920 and 1960, Canada’s northwest subarctic region experienced late-stage rapid industrialization along its large lakes. These included Lake Winnipeg, Lake Athabasca, Great Slave Lake, and Great Bear Lake. Powered by high-energy fossil fuels, the natural resources of the northwest were integrated into international commodity markets and distributed throughout the world. Whitefish from the large lakes found their way onto dinner plates in New York while uranium from Canada’s northwest fueled the world’s most destructive weapons, atomic bombs.

Professor Liza Piper joins us this month to discuss her new book The Industrial Transformation of Subarctic Canada from UBC Press. This book explores a region unfamiliar to most Canadians and how that space was transformed through industrial processes in the twentieth century. Rather than finding industrial technologies dominating the landscape of the northwest, Professor Piper found that humans used those technologies to assimilate nature.

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Works Cited:

Music Credits:

Other Contributor(s): 
  • Liza Piper

Kheraj, Sean. “Episode 12: Industrialization in Subarctic Environments.” Nature’s Past. 19 January 2010.


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Sean Kheraj is the director of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and associate dean of programs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University. His research and teaching focuses on environmental and Canadian history. He is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at

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