Tuesday, 30 December 2014

60 Acres

Note: last updated 31 August 2015.

In early November, John Baird announced the transfer of 60 acres of the Central Experimental Farm from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to the National Capital Commission. The NCC then leased the land for a dollar-a-year to the Ottawa Hospital to build a new Civic Campus. The Ottawa Hospital then mused about paving the site for parking as it has no money to build a new campus. None of the responsible planning authorities at the federal, provincial, or municipal level were consulted.

The Friends of the Central Experimental Farm used to host a list of articles and reactions against the transfer. This page went down sometime in mid-December, 2014. This is my attempt to recreate a list of reactions against Baird's irresponsible decision.

A Walk in the Farm - 60 Acres at Arpents 2014

This post is a modified version of my prepared talk at Arpents 2014. In my actual talk, I wandered widely from the prepared text so this account doesn't accurately represent that version. Such is a Pete Anderson presentation.

Looking north-east towards downtown from near the intersection Baseline and Merivale.

A couple of things happened since I agreed to give this presentation that changed the contours of what I originally planned to speak about. First in preparing for my qualifying exams, my research focus narrowed on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries limiting the methodological thrust of this presentation which was originally to be focused on the use of walking oral history interviews. Second, John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, recently made a direct attack on the geographic integrity of my research site, Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm.

Rather than looking at walking methodologies in historical geography research, then, I first outline the recent announcement by Baird and reactions to them--if you follow me on twitter this will be familiar to you. In the second section I argue that the pace of observation is an important factor in the ways different gazes are directed at the Farm.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Crosspost: Vacating Science and Forgetting History at the Central Experimental Farm

This post originally appeared at Active History. As always, please leave comments at the original.

Pete at Farm with Civic in Background.jpg” with Caption: “Pete Anderson posing near the threatened experimental plots with the Civic Hospital in the background. Photo credit: Laura Cameron.
Pete Anderson posing near the threatened experimental plots with the Civic Hospital in the background. Photo credit: Laura Cameron.

On November 3rdJohn Baird announced that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada transferred approximately 24 hectares (60 acres) of the Central Experimental Farm, in Ottawa, to the National Capital Commission. The NCC in turn offered to lease the land to the Ottawa Hospital to build a new Civic Campus. The Hospital then mused about the using this new land as a parking lot.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Hulme: Human Geography and the Many Voices of Climate Change

On Thursday, November 13th and Friday, November 14th Mike Hulme gave two public lectures at Carleton University. Hulme is a Professor of Climate and Culture in the Department of Geography at University of King’s College and after a career working as a climatologist at the University of East Anglia is now making a transition to being a human (and in particular a cultural) geographer.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Op-ed: Protect the Central Experimental Farm

Central Experimental Farm looking towards the Windfield Towers, Personal Photograph.

My op-ed arguing against the development of the Central Experimental Farm, even for a hospital, can be found at the Ottawa Citizen. Please leave any comments on the original post.

Crosspost: Graduate School and the Consulting Historian

This was originally posted at History@Work, the blog of the National Council for Public History. Please leave comments at the original.

Academic careers are hard to come by these days. Public historians will not be surprised by the posts on the active #altac hashtag on Twitter or the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s (SSHRC) recent “White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities” that observed that only between 10 and 15 percent of those who enter PhD programs will be employed at a post-secondary institution [1]. A declining number of tenured and tenure-track positions, coupled with an increased reliance on precarious labor in the form of adjunct and temporary appointments, has destabilized the academic job market for graduates. Deep budget cuts to museums, archives, and other research-oriented institutions–not just in history and the humanities, but also in the social, physical, and life sciences–make finding “traditional” public history jobs increasingly difficult as well.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

/Kitchen Literacy/ in "The Westward-Moving House": A Joint Review

  • Ann Vileisis, Kitchen Literacy: How we lost knowledge of where food comes from and why we need to get it back. (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2008.) Book Website. 
  •  John Brinckerhoff Jackson, “The Westward-Moving House: Three American Houses and the People Who Lived in Them.” Places Journal, July 2011: Online. [Originally printed in Landscapes (2.3), Spring 1953.]

Food is essential to life. These two works, Ann Vileisis’s Kitchen Literacy and John Brinckerhoff Jackson’s “The Westward-Moving House,” focus on the social histories and cultural geographies of people and places at seemingly opposite poles of eating: the cooks and the farmers. This observation obscures the deep similarities in the important stories Vileisis and Jackson tell about how we have come to rely on distributed supply chains for our daily sustenance.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Bureaucratic Ruins: Images from the Last Days of the Sir John Carling Building

I hope to flesh this post out with more images (and words) but for now here are a few shots of the late Sir John Carling Building. Named after the federal Minister of Agriculture who oversaw the establishment of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa and the wider Experimental Farm system across the country in 1886 (Carling was also one of those responsible for the founding of the Ontario Agricultural College in the 1870s), the Sir John Carling Building was one of the first attempts to consolidate a federal department in a single building.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Rambling at the Farm: Walking Tours, History, Digital Humanities

I recently took my friend Kendall, a PhD candidate in history at Queen's University, on a rambling tour through the Central Experimental Farm. Over the course of an hour and a half and covering 6.5km, we jumped through the Euro-Canadian history of the site. While I didn't have a firm plan about where we'd go and what stories I'd tell, the route wound through some of my favourite spots and included an interweaving of apocryphal local legends, histories of the Farm system and of the city, descriptions of archival collections I've already worked with, and a discussion of the various methodologies I hope to apply as I get into my dissertation research.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Crosspost: Review of Peter Russell's /How Agriculture Made Canada/

Note: This was originally posted at the Network in Canadian History and the Environment. Please leave comments on the original.

Reviewed By: Peter Anderson (Queen’s University)9780773540644

Published: The Otter-NiCHE (July 2014)

Peter A. Russell, How Agriculture Made Canada: Farming in the Nineteenth Century. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012. 400 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-4065-1. $34.95 (paper). Rural, Wildland and Resource Studies Series, Number 1.

Peter Russell argues that the settlement of the Prairies was shaped by the dynamics of two agricultural crises in nineteenth century Quebec and Ontario, which created a predominantly English Canadian context that later European immigrants assimilated to. As agricultural settlement reached the environmental and technological limits of the open land frontier in each province, farm communities and elites reacted in different ways. In Quebec the impulse was to turn inwards whereas in Ontario settlers looked west for a new frontier.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Environmental History Panels at 2014 CHA

This is a rough list of environmental history panels at this year's CHA. Please let me know if I missed any! The schedule is available here as a PDF

2014-05-02: Now updated with relevant CAG panels! (Schedule as PDF)

Monday, May 26


Finding Nature, Hiding Culture and Forgetting Industry at Canadian and American Parks.

Panel: Lauren Wheeler, Jessica DeWitt, Peter Anderson (me!)
Chair: John Walsh


The Great Naked, Rowdy, Drunken Outdoors: Exploring Canada’s Vernacular Culture of Nature through ‘Bad’ Behaviour

Panel: Dale Barbour, Ben Bradley, Mary-Ann Shantz
Chair: Sean Kheraj

Tuesday, May 27


Thinking about Animals in Urban Canada

Panel: Joanna Dean, Christabelle Sethna, Darcy Ingram
Chair: Laura Cameron

Systems, Spaces, Objects, Identities: Cultural Histories of Technology in 20th Century Canada

Panel: Daniel Macfarlane, Bret Edwards, Jan Hadlaw, Anne F MacLennan
Chair: Steve Penfold


Sustainable Development, the Arctic, and “Counterweights”: Problems in the 1970s, Problems Now

Panel: P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Henry Trim, Frank Maas
Chair: Ian Muller


Forest Ecosystems, Economies and Places CAG

Panel: Sinead Earley; Brenda Murphy, Annette Chretien, Grant Morin; Anderson Assuah; and, Sara Teitelbaum and Ryan Bullock 

Wednesday, May 28


Blending Boundaries: Integrating Historical Approaches in Examining the Natural World in 20th Century Canada

Panel: Jonathan McQuerrie, Mike Commito, Mark Kuhlberg
Chair: TBA


Special Panel on a Proposal for a Canadian Historical GIS Network CAG

Panel: Byron Moldofsky, Leon Robichaud, Donald Lafreniere   

Critical Legal Geographies CAG

Panel: Valentia Capurri; Rebekah Ingram, Adrian John, Richard Quodomine and Jay Toth; and, Laura Schaefli  


The State, Conservation and Moral Economies

Panel: George Warecki, Steve Penfold, Denny DeSerres Brett
Chair: TBA


Interrogating Toronto's Past CAG

Panel: Richard Anderson, Harvey Rainbow, Phillip Gordon Mackintosh