Environmental and Environment-Themed History at CHA 2017: A Handy Guide

Bas-relief by Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Ryerson University, Toronto. Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose.

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Another spring, another meeting of the Canadian Historical Association — this year at Ryerson University in Toronto. While environmental historians will be eagerly anticipating this year’s Canadian History & Environment Summer School on gender and Indigenous landscapes, there’s much to interest them at the CHA as well. This includes the first-ever Day of Canadian Environmental History, taking place on Tuesday, May 30; it will include a morning roundtable, lunchtime business meeting, and afternoon panel of research papers.

Below, we highlight papers, panels, and roundtables that examine historical intersections between humans and non-human beings and landscapes in what is today Canada. Inspired by Jim Clifford’s recent examination of the place of climate and environmental history within Canadian history (and Tom Peace’s allied, but broader reflection on the makeup of this year’s CHA programme), I included contributions by scholars who might not identify themselves as “practicing” environmental historians, but whose work engages with topics of interest and relevance to Canadian environmental history, including food, land, and animals.

I could have included still more papers and panels: on Indigenous and settler colonial histories of land use and allocation, on the history of field science and exploration, and on military perceptions and interactions with northern environments, to name just three topics. Drawing boundaries around an interdisciplinary field like environmental history is always, to some extent, an exercise in subjectivity and taste. My own sense, though, is that the field of Canadian history in 2017 is greener than perhaps it seems at first glance.

Sunday, May 28


Book launch and panel discussion for Animal Metropolis: Histories of Human-Animal Relations in Urban Canada (University of Calgary Press, 2017) at MAC-Mattamy, Congress Hub, Expo Event Space.

Monday, May 29


4.  New France and French Canadians: Reflections on Pre-Confederation Canada (POD 361)

Émilie Pigeon (York University): “Bete de l’Église: A Longue Durée History of the Loup Garou in North America”

5.  Canadian Agriculture in Transition: Sustainable Farm Systems in the 20th Century (POD 367)

Peter G. Anderson (Queen’s University): “‘FARMERS! Watch Your Balance in Nature’s Bank’: The Scientific Promotion of Mixed Farming in the Early 20th Century at Canada’s Central Experimental Farm”

Laura Larsen (University of Saskatchewan): “Chasing Nitrogen: Historical Agricultural Practice and its Effects on Saskatchewan Soils”

Josh MacFadyen (Arizona State University): “From Ruminants to Row Crops: When Agri-forestry and Prince Edward Island Entered the Anthropocene”

Chair: Andrew Watson (University of Saskatchewan)

7.  Constructing and Confronting Coloured Lines: Resettlement, Race, and Whiteness in Canada (POD 366)

Naomi Calnitsky: “Labours of Love: Family Human Rights, Labour Management and Worker Invisibility in Seasonal Mexican Farm Worker Agricultural Migrations to Canada, 1947-Present”

9.  Rethinking the Writing of Canadian History (JOR 1402)

Mary Jane Logan McCallum (University of Winnipeg) and Scott de Groot (University of Winnipeg): “‘Physician-Teacher-Historian-Naturalist-Artist’: Physician Amateur Historians and the History of Indigenous Health and Health Care in Canada”


22.  Exhibiting Canada (POD 361)

Geoffrey Little (Concordia University Press): “A Continuous Mineral Story from one ocean to the other: The Geological Survey of Canada at the World’s Columbian Exhibition, 1893”


29.  Indigenous Peoples and Canadian State Formation in the Era of Confederation (POD 368)

Brittany Luby (University of Guelph): “A Most Convenient Oversight: An Examination of How the Crown Misconstrued ‘Appropriate’ to Reduce Indian Reserve Lands in Ontario, 1873-Present”

Daniel Rück (University of Ottawa): “Northern Enclosure: The Centrality of Indigenous Lands to Canadian Confederation”

35.  Canadian History and Social Media Roundtable (JOR 1402) [organized by NiCHE’s Social Media Coordinator, Jessica DeWitt]

Daniel Ross (York University)
Jessica DeWitt (University of Saskatchewan)
Adam Gaudry (University of Alberta)
Andrea Eidinger (Kwantlen Polytechnic Institute)
Alexandre Turgeon (University of Ottawa)
Sarah York-Bertram (York University)

Moderator: Sean Kheraj (York University)

36.  Eating Canadian: Food Production and Consumption (POD 367)

Janis Thiessen (University of Winnipeg): “The ‘Romance’ of Chocolate: Paulins, Moirs, and Ganong”

Jodey Nurse-Gupta (University of Waterloo): “Marketing Milk: Canadian Agricultural Policy and Supply Management in the Postwar Period”

Andrew McEwen (University of Calgary): “‘One health’ in Canada: Origins and Influences, 1867-2017”

Nicholas Tosaj (University of Toronto): “Weaving the Breadbasket: Circulation, Identity and the Place of Canadian Wheat”

Chair: Camille Bégin (University of Toronto Scarborough | Heritage Toronto)

Tuesday, May 30


41.  Cultivating Vision: Perspectives on Rural Canadian Visual Culture (TRS 2-164)

Sara Spike (Lake Charlotte Historical Society): “Sight Seeing: Sensory History of Rural Vision”

Patricia Bowley (Independent Scholar): “Wax Fruit at the Ontario Agricultural College: Visual Aids to Scientific Horticulture”

Jan Hadlaw (York University) and Ben Bradley (University of Alberta): “Fruit Stand Ahead: Visual Culture, Vernacular Architecture, and Rural Enterprise in British Columbia’s Orcharding Districts, 1950-1980”

John C. Walsh (Carleton University): “Picturing Pasts: Photography, Rural Tourism, and Heritage in Ontario, 1947-1967”

Chair: Catharine A. Wilson (University of Guelph)


47.  The Past and Future of Canadian Environmental History Roundtable (TRS 3-119)

Stephen Bocking (Trent University)
Jennifer Bonnell (York University)
Joanna Dean (Carleton University)
Matthew Evenden (University of British Columbia)
Mica Jorgenson (McMaster University)
Dan Macfarlane (Western Michigan University)
James Murton (Nipissing University)
Jonathan Peyton (University of Manitoba)

Moderator: Jim Clifford (University of Saskatchewan)


55.  Poster Session (TRS 2-166)

George Colpitts (University of Calgary): “Climate and Change: Making Sense of the Dustbowl Years on the Canadian Prairies”

60.  Environmental History Group Business Meeting (TRS 2-003)


Book launch and panel discussion for Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History (University of Calgary Press, 2017) at MAC-Mattamy, Congress Hub, Expo Event Space.


62.  The Environment and the Dominion: How the State Shaped Nature in Canada (TRS 3-119)

Sean Kheraj (York University): “The National Energy Board and Environmental Policy”

Royden Loewen (University of Winnipeg): “National Agricultural Programs and Local Resistance: Canadian Mennonite Farmers in Global Context”

Ruth Sandwell (University of Toronto): “Through the Kitchen Window: Energy, Environment and the State in Canada”

Chair: James Murton (Nipissing University)

Wednesday, May 31


80.  Identity, Environment, and Colonial Space: Revisiting Indigenous and Mennonite Experiences of Place (SLC 451)

Susie Fisher (University of Manitoba): “Wartle (to root): Mennonites, Trees, and the Reconstruction of the Prairie West”


90.  Understanding Settler Colonialism (SLC 449)

Peter Allan Goddard (University of Guelph): “Fate of Nature and Colonial Enterprise: The New France Example”


104.  Business Across Borders (POD 367)

Blair Stein (University of Oklahoma): “It’s Always June in January: Time Travel and ‘Sun Destinations’ at Trans-Canada Air Lines/Air Canada, 1948-1968”

Robin Gendron (Nipissing University): “The Trials and Tribulations of Canadian Companies Aboard: Inco and the Culture of Business in Indonesia in the 1970s”


106.  Mobility in the Hudson’s Bay Company World (SLC 452)

Daniel Laxer (Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures): “Paddle-mobility: From Canoe-Connectivity to Isolation in Canada’s ‘Fly-In’ Communities”

108.  The Dominion of Power: Rethinking Canadian History through the Lens of Energy (KHW 57)

Ruth Sandwell (University of Toronto): “The Long Goodbye: Exploring Canada’s Slow Transition from the Organic to the Modern Energy Regime, 1867-1950”

Petra Dolata (University of Calgary): “Cross Flows: The Transnational and International Stories of Canada’s Energy History”

Ian Wereley (Carleton University): “Advertising Oil: Past, Present & Future”

Sean Kheraj (York University): “Pipelines and a High-Energy Society in Canada”

Steve Penfold (University of Toronto): “The Division of Power: Taking the Canada out of Canadian Energy History”

Chair: Jennifer Bonnell (York University)

Did we miss your paper or panel? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Assistant professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. I research and teach Canadian and environmental history, with a special focus on the Arctic and Subarctic.

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