Inspired by the field trips organized for the American Society for Environmental History’s 2013 conference in Toronto, Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region is a new book that invites readers to look for nature in the built environment and the built environment in the natural world.
The book is edited by York Professors L. Anders Sandberg of the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Colin Coates of the Canadian Studies Program at Glendon and director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, and Professors Stephen Bocking at Trent University and Ken Cruikshank at McMaster University.
Contributors guide readers through different journeys in the region, from downtown Toronto to the Oak Ridges Moraine, from the Leslie Street Spit to Niagara Falls, from the sacred indigenous mounds of High Park to the queer groves of David A. Balfour Park, from the engineering achievements of R.C. Harris to the imagined landscapes of Lawren Harris.
The chapters are complemented with maps and archival photos and images that encourage readers to tour the region on their own.
The book will be celebrated and launched Friday, March 21, from 6 to 8pm, at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St. (walking distance from the Osgoode and Queen subway stations). Everyone is welcome to attend. RSVP by March 15 at fes.yorku.ca\book-launch.
“The publication of Urban Explorations, the first collection to tour the environmental history of Canada’s foremost city, is so welcome. Its 16 chapters trace how the economic and demographic development of the Toronto region has remade the environment, and how that in turn has affected the peoples and societies living here,” writes Alan MacEachern in the foreword of the book.
“The book chronicles not just how people and nature related in the past, but also how that has shaped the present, and what that suggests for the future. But more than this, the book’s existence signals that Canadian environmental history, often preoccupied by the Canada of the north and the Canada of the wild, is giving increasing consideration to the Canada of cities, the places where the majority of Canadians actually live.”