Making Ontario: Agricultural Colonization and Landscape Re-Creation Before the Railway

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2000 - History - 205 pages
The colony that became Ontario arose almost spontaneously out of the confusion and uncertainty following the American Revolution, as a quickly chosen refuge for some 10,000 Loyalists who had to leave their former homes. After the War of 1812 settlers began to spread throughout the inter-lake peninsula that was to become southern Ontario and by the middle of the nineteenth century expansion had led to a diversifying agriculture and an increasingly open farming landscape that replaced a mature forest ecosystem. The scale of the change from forest to cropland profoundly affected what had been for many decades a rich environment for life forms, from large herbivores down to microscopic creatures. In Making Ontario David Wood shows that the most effective agent of change in the first century of Ontario's development was not the locomotive but settlers' attempts to change the forest into agricultural land.
Wood traces the various threads that went into creating a successful farming colony while documenting the sacrifice of the forest ecosystem to the demands of progress, progress that prepared the ground for the railway. Making Ontario provides a detailed focus on environmental modification at a time of great changes. It is liberally illustrated with analytical maps based on archival research.
J. David Wood is professor of geography and urban studies at Atkinson College, York University.
 

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Contents

Progress and the Confrontation with Nature
3
A colony for farm settlers
4
The language of landscape change
8
Changing the Face of the Earth
12
Superimposed geometry
20
Agents of Transformation An Expanding Population
23
Characteristics of a pioneer population
26
the modern census arrives
40
timber
101
Small seeds of industry
109
Variation in affluence and socioeconomic status
114
Circulation of Goods People and Information
120
making connections
125
Waiting for the train
130
The Urban Role in an Agricultural Colony
139
The functions of urban places
141

A New World mosaic
45
Building a Social Structure
50
From refuge to colony
51
Landscape as societys recreation
58
Intensity of social structuring
78
Dimensions of a social geography
82
Making a Living
84
Agriculture as the way of life
85
Circumscribed roles
148
A gradually emerging urban system
149
Conclusion A New Land Handmade
157
The ethics of making a new land
163
Notes
167
Bibliography
183
Index
199
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