HGIS in Canada

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IS integrates computer hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and presenting all forms of geographically-referenced information. With its capacity to allow researchers to display, organize, and interpret the geographic aspects of the data they study, and to reveal geospatial relationships and patterns within this data, GIS has natural applications for historical studies. Since the 1990s, its use in historical research has stimulated the growing sub-field of Historical GIS (HGIS). Over the last twenty years, a few countries have created national HGIS systems linking administrative boundaries with census and other data. Recently, historians have used HGIS to display and analyze geographic data at the local and regional level, and to display the geographic characteristics of qualitative sources.

The aim of this collection is to represent the “state of the discipline” of HGIS in Canada. In the space of ten to twelve chapters, this book will bring together case studies of HGIS projects from Canada’s diverse regions. Projects will include studies in historical geography, social and cultural history, and environmental history. Throughout the collection, contributors will combine reflections on methodology and process with discussions of research findings, and the role of HGIS in facilitating the organization, interpretation and presentation of their results. Chapters will fall into three sections, tentatively titled: 1) Data and Method, 2) HGIS and the Environment, and 3) HGIS and Social History.

A pre-publication workshop held at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library April 23, 2011 brought contributors together to review and discuss draft chapters, and the shape of the collection as a whole. In the fall of 2011, we will use this workshop webpage to host images and short analyses related to the workshop papers.

The following list of draft chapter titles demonstrates the diversity of themes, approaches, and topics in historical inquiry covered by this collection.

  1. Byron Moldofsky: Exploring Historical Geography Using Census Microdata: The Canadian Century Research Infrastructure (CCRI) Project.
  2. Jennifer Bonnell and Marcel Fortin. There’s Gold in Those Drawers: The University of Toronto Map and Data Library and the Creation of the Don Valley Historical Mapping Project.
  3. Stephen Bocking and Barbara Znamirowski. Stories of People, Land, and Water: Using Spatial Technologies to Explore Regional Environmental History.
  4. Daniel Rueck, “I do not know the boundaries of this land, but I know the land which I worked:” HGIS and Mohawk Land Practices.
  5. Josh MacFadyen and William Glen. Top-down history: Delimiting forests, farms, and the Agricultural Census on Prince Edward Island using Aerial Photography, c.1900-2000.
  6. Ruth Sandwell. Mapping Fuel Use in Canada: Exploring the Social History of Canadians’ Great Fuel Transformation.
  7. Marc St. Hillaire. Social Spaces in 19th Century Quebec: A View from Marriage Fields, 1800-1900.
  8. John Lutz, Patrick Dunae, and Jason Gilliland. Turning Space Inside Out: HGIS and Race in Victorian Victoria.
  9. Fiona A. Black and Bertrum H. MacDonald. Canadian Book Trade Activities in the 1880s: Developing an HGIS Model.
  10. Andrew Hinson, Jennifer Marvin, and Cameron Metcalf. The best seat in the house: A spatial analysis of the socioeconomic significance of pew assignment in Knox Church, Toronto 1882.
  11. François Dufaux and Sherry Olson. Rebuilding a Neighbourhood of Montreal.

Workshop participants:

  • Fiona Black
  • Stephen Bocking
  • Jennifer Bonnell
  • François Dufaux
  • Pat Dunae
  • Marcel Fortin
  • Bill Glen
  • Andrew Hinson
  • Josh MacFadyen
  • Jennifer Marvin
  • Cameron Metcalf
  • Byron Moldofsky
  • Dan Rueck
  • Ruth Sandwell
  • Marc St-Hilaire
  • Barbara Znamirowski
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