The Otter~La loutre: Top Five Articles of 2015

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2015 was a big year for our little website here at the Network in Canadian History and Environment. We had more readers than ever with over 93,000 views and more than 9,000 in November alone (our biggest month). Nature’s Past published six new episodes and #EnvHist Worth Reading continued with coverage of the best environmental history articles on the web. And The Otter~La loutre forged ahead with 118 articles!

Here are the five articles from The Otter that had the most views in 2015:

5. Workers as Commodities: The Case of Asbestos, Quebec

The third in our latest special series on the intersections of labour history and environmental history, Jessica van Horssen’s article on the bodies of miners from Asbestos, Quebec is a haunting story of the exploitation of workers’ bodies. As she does in her broader work, she explores the relationships among workers, corporations, minerals, and landscapes. This article should whet your appetite for her new book A Town Called Asbestos: Environmental Contamination, Health, and Resilience in a Resource Community.

4. Go South, Young Historian?

Our own editor, Tina Adcock, picked up on a trend we’ve noticed in the past few years: Canadian environmental historians getting jobs in the US. Tina herself spent some time working at University of Maine and several other NiCHE members now work at universities south of the border. In this article, Tina offers useful advice for new scholars looking to work abroad.

3. Fantastic, Five Ten!

This article probably had so many readers because we had to keep updating it so often! What began as happy news about the hiring of five long-time NiCHE new scholars turned into a celebration of nine hires! Canadian environmental historians found much fortune on the job market in 2015. While the seas are still rough out there, we were thrilled to see so many NiCHE members find safe shores at universities and other institutions across Canada and in the US. Congratulations!

2. History in “the Hollows”: Environmental History and Local Heritage in Oshawa, Ontario

In her final article of 2015, Amanda Robinson continued her look at history, memory, and environment in Oshawa, Ontario. “The Hollows” was a low-lying area by the lower Oshawa Creek adjacent to the city’s working-class neighbourhoods. Robinson explores its history and her own personal connections to this place.

1. Landscapes of Science

Finally, Stephen Bocking’s first article of 2015 for The Otter tops our list this year. Stephen kick-started our series on the history of science and environmental history with a thought-provoking piece. His overall thesis about situating science within the environments in which it is conducted sparked debate, discussion, and follow-up articles from a number of scholars in both the fields of environmental history and history of science. It is precisely the sort of response we hope for with new articles on The Otter.

Congratulations to the five authors who topped our readership stats in 2015! We want to bring in more readers in 2016 and you can help. If you’d like to write an article about your own environmental history research, check out our contributors’ guide and contact us 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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