Book cover image for: Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History

Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History

Edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin M. Coates

$34.95 CAD / $34.95 USD

352 pages, notes, bibliography, index

25 b&w and 13 colour illustrations, 9 maps, 2 tables

978-1-55238-859-4 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-861-7 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-55238-862-4 (ePub)

978-1-55238-863-1 (mobi)

Canadian History and Environment

June 2016

About the Book

Mobility – the movements of people, things, and ideas, as well as their associated cultural meanings – has been a key factor in shaping Canadians’ perceptions of and interactions with their country. Approaching the burgeoning field of environmental history in Canada through the lens of mobility reveals some of the distinctive ways in which Canadians have come to terms with the country’s climate and landscape.

Spanning Canada’s diverse regions, throughout its history, from the closing of the age of sail to the contemporary era of just-on-time delivery, Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History examines a wide range of topics, from the impact of seasonal climactic conditions on different transportation modes, to the environmental consequences of building mobility corridors and pathways, to the relationship between changing forms of mobility with tourism and other recreational activities. Contributors make use of traditional archival sources, as well as historical geographic information systems (HGIS), qualitative and quantitative analysis, and critical theory.

This thought-provoking collection divides the intersection of environmental and mobility history into two approaches. The chapters in the first section deal primarily with the construction and productive use of mobility technologies and infrastructure, as well as their environmental constraints and consequences. The chapters in the second section focus on consumers’ uses of those vehicles and pathways: on pleasure travel, tourism, and recreational mobility. Together, they highlight three quintessentially Canadian themes: seasonality, links between mobility and natural resource development, and urbanites’ experiences of the environment through mobility.

Ben Bradley is a Grant Notley Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. His research examines the linkages between mobility, landscape, and mass culture in twentieth-century Canada.

Jay Young is outreach officer at the Archives of Ontario and a founding editor of He completed his doctorate at York University in 2012 followed by a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship in history at McMaster University.

Colin M. Coates teaches environmental history and Canadian studies at York University. He is past president of the Canadian Studies Network–Réseau d’études canadiennes and was a member of the executive of NiCHE, the Network in Canadian History and Environment.

With Contributions By: Judy Burns, Jim Clifford, Ken Cruikshank, Jessica Dunkin, Elizabeth L. Jewett, Don Lafreniere, Elsa Lam, Maude-Emmanuelle Lambert, J.I. Little, Daniel Macfarlane, Merle Massie, Tor H. Oiamo, Joy Parr, Thomas Peace, and Andrew Watson

Praise for Moving Natures: 

Moving Natures presents an engaging and thought-provoking introduction to the potential of reimagining the interconnected roles of mobility and the environment in Canadian History

– J.L. Weller, BC Studies

This excellent collection should be seen as an initial step towards the refinement of mobility as a historical concept and a greater unpacking of mobility histories.

– Alan Gordan, The Journal of Transport History 

[This] is a welcome intervention in several fields that engage with Canada’s size, including environmental history, mobility studies, science and technology studies, and Canadian social and cultural history. Here, dominant narratives of transportation networks as annihilators of Canadian distances are complicated and decentralized by prying open the black boxes of mobility studies and environmental history with the crowbars of the other… The result is a well-rounded set of twelve interdisciplinary stories that address both the impact of mobility networks on the environment as well as changing perceptions of the environment when viewed from different transportation platforms. 

– Blair Stein, Scientia Canadensis 

This collection puts older themes in a new light, works outside of a nationalist perspective, and offers close readings of cases to make larger observations… Many historical geographers and environmental historians will find a great deal of interest within these pages, and the basis for fruitful comparisons with other cases and places. 

– Matthew Evenden, Journal of Historical Geography


WINNER, 2017 Heritage Toronto Historical Writing: Short Publications Award for the chapter "Soils and Subways: Excavating Environments during the Building of Rapid Transit in Toronto, 1944-1968" by Jay Young | 2017