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Alan MacEachern - Size and Nature of Canada

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Title: Alan MacEachern - Size and Nature of Canada
Author: MacEachern, Alan
Subject Keywords IKBLC, Green College, Alan MacEachern, Canada
Issue Date: 2012-01-16
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-01-27
Abstract: Webcast sponsored by Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by Green College. Beaver and Bieber notwithstanding, Canada is best known for being big. Yet few scholars have thought to ask what Canadians have thought of living in a big country or how size has informed the nation’s development? This talk will begin with an exploration of the “aboriginal ecumene” to introduce and consider questions of territoriality. It will then turn to the growing recognition—among European explorers, missionaries, settlers, and soldiers—of the size of the place, and what that meant to the colonial project. How for example, did 17th century Jesuits convey to French readers what a 1,200-km canoe trip from Quebec to Huronia entailed. Then the focus shifts to the territorial expansions of the past 250 years that made Canada’s boundaries what they are today. Size was not everything when a land’s resources were essentially only valuable to the extent that they could be transported efficiently, which tended to mean by water, so how were the territorial expansions viewed? Was there only a dawning general realization of expansion’s great value, even when there were no immediate plans for the land, or were there always a few forward-looking folks who took quiet delight as the boundaries of this political jurisdiction grew larger and larger? The period from the 1840s to 1880 is critical in this history, in that it saw the rapid consolidation and articulation of an almost unprecedented amount of land under the control of a single nation-state. Finally, the talk will explore how Canada turned its colonial impulse inward in the 20th century, to develop its territories economically and politically, before pondering the meaning of Canada’s size today, particularly under the specter of climate change. How will Canada’s “useable” area change—especially in comparison with other nations, and perhaps especially the U.S.—and what will that mean to its future, and, for that matter, to its understanding of its history?
Affiliation: Green College
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/40333
Peer Review Status: Unreviewed
Scholarly Level: Faculty

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