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Cover for Metropolitan Natures

Metropolitan Natures

Environmental Histories of Montreal (Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ)

Stéphane Castonguay (Editor), Michèle Dagenais (Editor)


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One of the oldest metropolitan areas in North America, Montreal has evolved from a remote fur trading post in New France into an international center for services and technology. A city and an island located at the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, it is uniquely situated to serve as an international port while also providing rail access to the Canadian interior. The historic capital of the Province of Canada, once Canada’s foremost metropolis, Montreal has a multifaceted cultural heritage drawn from European and North American influences. Thanks to its rich past, the city offers an ideal setting for the study of an evolving urban environment.
       Metropolitan Natures presents original histories of the diverse environments that constitue Montreal and it region. It explores the agricultural and industrial transformation of the metropolitan area, the interaction of city and hinterland, and the interplay of humans and nature. The fourteen chapters cover a wide range of issues, from landscape representations during the colonial era to urban encroachments on the Kahnawake Mohawk reservation on the south shore of the island, from the 1918–1920 Spanish flu epidemic and its ensuing human environmental modifications to the urban sprawl characteristic of North America during the postwar period.
      Situations that politicize the environment are discussed as well, including the economic and class dynamics of flood relief, highways built to facilitate recreational access for the middle class, power-generating facilities that invade pristine rural areas, and the elitist environmental hegemony of fox hunting. Additional chapters examine human attempts to control the urban environment through street planning, waterway construction, water supply, and sewerage.

Praise For Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal (Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ)

“A refreshing and long overdue perspective on how human activities from agriculture to transportation to infrastructure policies shape geography over generations, creating distinctive urban landscapes. It challenges accepted views on the relation between culture and nature to better guide the future of the modern metropolis.”
—Dinu Bumbaru, C.M., Policy Director of Heritage Montreal

“This remarkable collection presents diverse perspectives on Montreal’s growth from colonial outpost to industrial city. Original essays help us understand how Montrealers perceived nature and their city, built structures to move water and people, endured floods and disease, and transformed their region. A major contribution to environmental history, relevant far beyond this fascinating city.”
—Stephen Bocking, Trent University

“A fascinating collection of essays that makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of Montreal’s environmental history. The book brings together a range of authors to explore the interaction between the environment and the city. The result is a tantalizing array of topics. This important book will be of interest to a variety of scholars, including those working on Montreal, urban history, and environmental history.”
—Robert Lewis, University of Toronto

“While some edited volumes may be uneven and have a patched-together feel, this one shines as an exemplar of what such a collaborative effort can be. . . . Excellent . . . Readers will be rewarded with first-rate case studies, fascinating stories, and insightful and provocative scholarship.”

—Environmental History

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822944027, 336pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2011

About the Author

Stéphane Castonguay is the Canada Research Chair in Environmental History at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.

Michèle Dagenais is professor of history at Université de Montréal.