Nature’s Past Episode 12: Industrialization in Subarctic Environments

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Episode 12: Industrialization in Subarctic Environments

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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.

Book Cover of Piper, Liza. "The Industrial Transformation of Subarctic Canada." Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009.


Liza Piper

Works Cited:

Sean Kheraj, Canadian History & Environment

Piper, Liza. The Industrial Transformation of Subarctic Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009.

Music Credits:

“R&R&R” by Pitx

“Hapbirmai” by Pitx

Photo Credit:

A miner hauling a car of silver radium ore, 340 feet below the surface, Eldorado Mine of Great Bear Lake. Credit: Eldorado Mining & Refining Ltd. / Library and Archives Canada / C-023983


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

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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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