"Changing Environments and Cultures of Nature in Canada's 'Great Acceleration'"

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The Department of History Research Presentation

Changing Environments and Cultures of Nature in Canada's 'Great Acceleration'
Guest Lecturer:  Benjamin Bradley (PhD - Queen's University)
Day/Date:  Friday, October 11, 2019
Time:  2 p.m.
Location:  E-690

Abstract: Canadians’ relationships with the natural world started undergoing dramatic change around the turn of the last century. Rising rates of energy use derived from fossil fuels transformed many established patterns of social life and resource and land use, through mechanized agriculture, techniques of mass production, and technologies that seemed to conquer distance and the vagaries of climate and terrain. Practices and attitudes towards the environment changed dramatically as Canada became a society characterized by material abundance. Canadians increasingly viewed ‘nature’ as benign and therapeutic, and thus worthy of contemplation and preservation, even as environmental exploitation accelerated.

In this emergent culture of mass consumption and mobility, growing numbers of Canadians projected their desires and popular tastes onto the natural world through practices such as tourism, sightseeing, and outdoor recreation. Understanding how ordinary Canadians encountered the environment during this period of unprecedented personal autonomy, flexibility, choice, and freedom is essential, particularly if we want to imagine new relationships with nature in response to the challenges of human-caused climate change. Drawing examples from around the country, this presentation examines how Canadians’ interactions with the natural world were shaped by modern systems of energy, infrastructure, and technology during the 20th century, both materially and in terms of how they perceived it.

 Everyone is welcome.

Room or Area: 


Bev Garnett | bev.garnett@uleth.ca | (403) 380-1894

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