Environmental Historians and Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine

The cover of Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine Vol 45 (1)

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Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine is under new editorship, with me and Harold Bérubé serving as the editors. We look forward to guiding UHR/RUH into the next era of its long existence (first published in 1972), building on the excellent work of its outgoing editor, Alan Gordon, its recent coeditor, Claire Poitras, and the many others who have strived to make this the preferred outlet for the finest research on Canada’s urban history.

I want to underscore the point that, although our empirical focus is Canada’s past, our orientation is interdisciplinary, and we welcome perspectives on the topic from a variety of scholarly traditions. Against narrow understandings of urban history as merely the study of cities, we agree with Raymond A. Mohl’s formulation laid out in his introduction editorial to the Journal of Urban History’s first issue. He reported that JUH’s founding editorial board asserted that “urban history is a big tent,” and listed the types of studies the editorial board would consider within the journal’s scope. (Shortly thereafter, in UHR/RUH, Norbert MacDonald approvingly reported Mohl’s editorial.) This list is as relevant today as it was when first published more than forty years ago, and is worth quoting here:

(1) studies which deal with the political, economic, social, and spatial systems of individual cities

(2) studies which encompass larger systems, such as the ecology and spatial organization of large regions or the relations of cities to larger societies or nations

(3) studies of small or narrow fragments of the urban experience will be considered, but only if they are clearly and strongly related to a broader context

(4) studies dealing with “the idea of the city,” or with the place of the city in intellectual and cultural history

(5) studies comparing urban societies and systems over space or time

(6) studies evaluating the urban historiography of the various nations and regions of the world

(7) studies singling out the unexplored dimensions of the urban past for future researchers, or demonstrating significant new research techniques or methodologies

(8) articles which make fruitful use of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of urban history.


What is particularly relevant for Canada’s environmental historians is that urban history involves the historical process of urbanization, which William Solecki and colleagues say is “one of simultaneous transformation of places, populations, economies, and the built environment that creates an urban society. Their call for an “urbanization science” aimed at improving public decision-making encompasses historical research examining the “intersection [of urbanization] with other environmental systems.” I think you will find that the content of our latest issue reflects this interdisciplinary approach to the study of Canada’s urban (and urbanization) history.

Our fall 2016 issue consists of three articles. Brad Cross’s article, “Modern Living ‘hewn out of the unknown wilderness’: Aluminum, City Planning, and Alcan’s British Columbian Industrial Town of Kitimat in the 1950s” [preview article], examines the planning history of a company town in northern British Columbia. The remaining two articles focus on the environmental challenges posed to governments by urban growth, and the measures taken to address them while continuing to foster the conditions for continued growth. In “’An Eden that is practically uninhabited by humans’: Manipulating Wilderness in Managing Vancouver’s Drinking Water, 1880–1930” [preview article], Mark Kulberg explores the ironies and contradictions that arose as Vancouver’s leaders sought to preserve and (promote) the quality of the city’s drinking water during the early 20th century. Kuhberg’s article is a great example of research focusing on the process of urbanization and “its intersection with other environmental systems” that I would like to see UHR/RUH publish more of. Finally, in “Urban Elites, Energy, and Smoke Policy in Montreal during the Interwar Period,” Joshua MacFadyen and I provide the political history of Canada’s first modern air pollution abatement bylaw [preview article]. We highlight the role of the city’s anglophone business association, the Montreal Board of Trade, in placing the issue on the policy agenda and formulating solutions.

In addition to this new issue of UHR/RUH, I am pleased to report other new and forthcoming developments in Canadian urban history. We presently have two special journal issues planned. And we are in the process of reawakening the Canadian Historical Association’s affiliated committee on urban history. We are also searching for a new book review editor for UHR/RUH’s English-language reviews, and refreshing our editorial board. There are many opportunities for energetic scholars to get involved.

I hope you will consider us as a potential outlet for your future research. All submissions are reviewed by the journal’s editors and, if they make it to the next step, sent for double-blind review to scholars knowledgeable in the subject. We will strive to make sure all submissions are reviewed promptly and receive the care and consideration they merit. We want UHR/RUH to be one of the main outlets for Canada’s environmental history.


The contents of the latest UHR/RUH issue are as follows:


New Research on the History of Canada’s Urbanization

Owen Temby


Modern Living “hewn out of the unknown wilderness”: Aluminum, City Planning, and Alcan’s British Columbian Industrial Town of Kitimat in the 1950s [preview article]

Brad Cross


“An Eden that is practically uninhabited by humans”: Manipulating Wilderness in Managing Vancouver’s Drinking Water, 1880–1930 [preview article]

Mark Kuhlberg


Urban Elites, Energy, and Smoke Policy in Montreal during the Interwar Period [preview article]

Owen Temby and Joshua MacFadyen


Book Reviews / Comptes rendus

Cochard, Les marins du Havre. Gens de mer et société urbaine au XIXe siècle

Anthony J. Steinhoff


Nicholas, The Modern Girl: Feminine Modernities, the Body, and Commodities in the 1920s

Jenny Ellison


Gaudreau, Blais, et Auger, Mine, travail et société à Kirkland Lake

Jean-Philippe Bernard


Gribaudi, Paris ville ouvrière. Une histoire occultée (1789-1848)

Marie-Pascale Leclerc


Jean-Pierre Hardy, Jardins et jardiniers laurentiens 1660-1800. Creuse le temps, creuse la terre

Guillaume Fortin


White, Planning Toronto: The Planners, the Plans, Their Legacies, 1940–1980

Frédéric Mercure-Jolette

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