BookLook 2014

BookLook 2014

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Ahhh, springtime, when a young environmental historian’s thoughts turn to books. The thrill of their binding, their firm yet supple spines. Or maybe ebooks are more your thing. The slightest touch yielding immediate response. Deciding for yourself how much font you can handle. Oh baby.

There are so many new Canadian environmental history / historical geography titles coming out that I’ve taken to compiling an annual inventory. The 2013 list is here. Many more have arrived since then, or are soon to be published.

BookLook 2014 Titles
BookLook 2014 Titles

Like last year, it’s the phenomenal number of titles coming out of the smaller Canadian university presses that is most notable. Wilfrid Laurier University Press has a great Environmental Humanities series which this fall will see the release of Liza Piper and Lisa Szabo-Jones’s edited Sustaining the West: Cultural Responses to Western Environments, Past and Present. University of Calgary Press’ Canadian History & Environment series, although saddled with me as an editor, is hitting its stride, with its second title – Jennifer Bonnell and Marcel Fortin’s edited Historical GIS Research in Canada— recently released and a whopping seven more manuscripts in development. (I’m clearly biased, but I’m especially impressed by Calgary’s commitment to open-access. You can go download PDFs of not just the Canadian History & Environment titles, but also books in the Energy, Ecology, and Environment series such as Ella Soper and Nicholas Bradley’s Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocriticism in Context or Alan MacFadyen and G. Campbell Watkins’ Petropolitics: Petroleum Markets and Regulations – Alberta as an Illustrative History.)

And there are lots more. Athabasca University Press is releasing George Colpitts’ Fish Wars and Trout Travesties: Saving Southern Alberta’s Coldwater Streams in the 1920s. He’s such a good writer, I look forward to that. Ditto for Merle Massie’s Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan, coming out with University of Manitoba Press – as is Jon Parmenter’s The Edge of the Woods: Iroquoia, 1534-1701. Pearl Ann Reichwein’s Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906-1974is part of University of Alberta Press’ catalogue.

Don’t get me wrong: the big three Canadian university presses – UBC, McGill-Queen’s, and Toronto – are also producing lots of solid, attractive books in our field. I like the look of Ron Williams’ Landscape Architecture in Canada, from MQUP. And as the dust jacket blurb suggests, I’m a big fan of John Riley’s The Once and Future Great Lakes Country: An Ecological History, which reads as the love child of Donald Creighton and Annie Proulx. (I should have blurbed that.) Maybe it’s more history of science than environmental history, but I’ll be buying Ted Binnema’s Enlightened Zeal: The Hudson’s Bay Company and Scientific Networks, 1670-1870 from U of T. And of course UBC Press’s Nature/History/Society series keeps chugging along: I’ll be on the lookout for Daniel MacFarlane’s Negotiating a River: Canada, the US, and the Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and for comps prep I’ll be reading (I mean re-reading!) the series’ 2013 titles: Darcy Ingram’s Wildlife, Conservation, and Conflict in Quebec, 1840-1914, Sean Kheraj’s Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History, and Caroline Desbiens’ Power from the North: Territory, Identity, and the Culture of Hydroelectricity in Quebec.

Those are the university presses, but what about the trade publishers? How about international titles with significant Can con? Tell me about any I’ve missed, in the comments below.

Happy reading.

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I am the author of Becoming Green Gables (spring 2024), The Summer Trade (with Edward MacDonald, 2022), & The Miramichi Fire (2020), & the editor of the print/open-access Canadian History & Environment series at University of Calgary Press. I was Director of NiCHE, 2004-15. Contact me at


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