The Otter~La Loutre: Top Five Posts of 2014

"Calendar" by Dafne Cholet

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2014 was a big year for The Otter~La Loutre. We completed our first full year on WordPress, we adopted a new editorial collective model for publishing (thanks to our great team of editors!), we started the #EnvHist Worth Reading series, and our new social media editor has been bringing more readers to the site than ever. In 2014, we published 126 posts on The Otter~La Loutre. These included short articles, book reviews, videos, and community announcements. In the spirit of annual review, here are the most-read posts on The Otter~La Loutre for 2014:

1. Alan MacEachern, “Environment Canada Archival Collection Coming to Western

At the end of January 2014, Professor Alan MacEachern announced a landmark agreement between Environment Canada and Western University for a loan of a massive collection of meteorological data from Canadian weather stations covering a period from 1840 to 1960. This is bound to be one of the most significant events for Canadian climate history and will produce new historical research in the years to come. On the anniversary of this announcement, we are excited to what kind of new research emerges from this collection.

2. Joshua MacFadeyn, “Cold Comfort: Firewood, Ice Storms, and Hypothermia in Canada”

Dr. MacFadyen’s ongoing research on the history of cold weather in Canada has continued to draw interest all year. His work on hypothermia and death from exposure is fascinating and it examines a part of Canadian environmental history that, surprisingly, has gone relatively unexplored, the winter!

3. Daniel Macfarlane, “A River Runs Under, Along, and Through It: Montreal and the St. Lawrence Seaway”

This article provides a brief overview of the impact of the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway on Montreal and its region. Based on his exemplary research in his recently published book Negotiating a River: Canada, the US, and the Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Professor Macfarlane discusses the planning decisions and the implications of the construction of the seaway south of Montreal. In particular, he highlights the effects this decision had on the Kahnawake Indian Reserve on the south shore of the river.

4. Andrew Watson, “An Unpredictable Path to the Suburbs: A History of Toronto’s Leaside Neighbourhood”

As part of a multi-part series on the suburban environmental history of Toronto, Dr. Watson published the most popular article in the series with his history of the development of Leaside. The birthplace of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and one of Toronto’s most unusual suburbs, Leaside’s early history provides a fascinating case study of the role of suburban development in the transformation of urban environments in twentieth-century Canada.

5. Andrew Watson with Jim Clifford, “Mapping Supply Chains for 19th-Century Leather”

Based on the incredible “Trading Consequences” research project, Watson and Clifford reveal the power of digital tools for historical research. This article shows some of their preliminary work tracing the movement of leather through the British empire in the nineteenth century. The powerful visualization tools provide new insights into the environmental history of global commodity flows. Stay tuned for more exciting work on this project and the rest of the “Trading Consequences” project later this year.

Congratulations to the top five authors on The Otter~La Loutre for 2014. If you would like to write for our site, please get in touch with me at or with the entire editorial collective here.

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Sean Kheraj

Associate Professor and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan University
Sean Kheraj is a member of the executive committee of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of History and Vice-Provost Academic at Toronto Metropolitan 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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