Nature’s Past – Episode 30: Environmental Histories of Montreal

Nature’s Past Episode 30 – click to play | right click, ‘save as’ to download

Photo Credit: Fox hunting, Montreal Hunt Club, Montreal, QC, about 1885, McCord Museum, VIEW-2580.1

Photo Credit: Fox hunting, Montreal Hunt Club, Montreal, QC, about 1885, McCord Museum, VIEW-2580.1

Last year, the University of Pittsburgh Press published its first book on Canadian urban environmental history titled Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal. This diverse collection of essays was edited by two leading scholars of Quebec environmental history, Stephane Castonguay and Michele Dagenais. This episode of the podcast explores some of the environmental histories of Montreal.

Montreal is one of the oldest metropolises in North America with a history of Euro-American resettlement and urban development that spans more than four centuries. Prior to European colonization, the island of Montreal was home to the fortified Iroquoian village of Hochelaga. Needeless to say, organizing a series of case studies of the environmental history of Montreal is no easy task. Castonguay and Dagenais decided to organize the collection along three broad themes: representations, infrastructures, and hinterlands. The essays in the first section, representations, focus on changing human perceptions of Montreal and its region beginning with the earliest observations of the Island of Montreal and Mount Royal by Jacques Cartier in the 1530s. The following section on “Infrastructures” examines socio-technical systems in the urban environment with particular focus on water systems and roadway infrastructure. In the concluding section of the book on “Hinterlands” the authors explored the changing relationship between city and countryside as Montreal developed as Canada’s leading metropolis.

On this episode of the podcast, I spoke with two of the authors from this edited collection, Darcy Ingram and Daniel Rueck.

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Sean Kheraj is an associate professor in the Department of History at York University. He researches and teaches in the areas of environmental and Canadian history. In addition to being a co-editor of niche-canada.org, he is also the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at http://seankheraj.com.

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