Niagara article in Environmental History

I have an article on Niagara Falls in the October volume of Environmental History. Here is a link to the article and an abstract:

Over the first half of the twentieth century, Canada and the United States considered engineering works that would simultaneously divert water around Niagara Falls for hydroelectric production while ostensibly maintaining and enhancing the appearance of the great cataract. Binational studies and environmental diplomacy resulted in the 1950 Niagara Diversion Treaty, which authorized the International Niagara Control Works. The construction of these remedial works in the 1950s physically reconfigured Niagara Falls and the Niagara River immediately above the falls in order to divert water while masking the scenic effect of lower flow volumes. As a result, depending on the time of day, up to three-quarters of the Niagara River’s water does not go over the falls but is sent via massive tunnels to hydroelectric generating stations downstream. During debates in the following decades about further remedial works, public opinion helped stop some modifications of Niagara Falls, signifying a shift in attitudes. Using multiple archives from both countries, including the International Joint Commission, this study uncovers the conceptual and physical engineering of the Niagara landscape and waterscape in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The modern history of the manipulation of Niagara Falls highlights both shared and differing Canadian and American conceptions of the links between border waters, progress, technology, and nationalism.

Canadian Cultural Landscapes syllabus

This semester I’m teaching a kind of unique Canadian Studies seminar on Canadian Cultural Landscapes. It combines a variety of disciplines, and it has  been taught a variety of ways in the past. I definitely borrowed from others who have taught this course, or something similar, at Carleton University and Dalhousie University. I gave it an environmental history feel, but have incorporated cultural geography, planning, architecture, cultural studies, etc., and altered it to reflect my areas of interest. I likely don’t have time to make further changes to the syllabus for this semester (as I’m posting this two days before the first class) , but I’d be interested in feedback in case I teach it again (or if anyone notices the dreaded typo, let me know asap). Additionally, I’m thinking that by posting it online it will be more readily available as a resource in case someone else is teaching a similar course in the future (maybe I’m alone, but whenever I design a new or new-to-me  course, I start by looking online for other syllabi on the topic).



Canadian Studies 4400

Canadian Cultural Landscapes

Fall 2013

Dr. Daniel Macfarlane


Class Location: 1216 Dunton

Class Hours: 11:35-2:25

Office Location: 1220 Dunton

Office Hours: 2:30-3:30 and by appointment

Contact Information:      613-883-7991



This course examines Canadian cultural landscapes and the development of Canadian individual and collective cultural identities through the interdisciplinary lenses of history, heritage, environment, geography, architecture, planning, visual sources, and literature. We will debate the very definition of a “cultural landscape.” We will consider cultural landscapes as a tool for understanding physical and mental landscapes and their shaping of identity, all at different scales. We will intellectually tour across Canada from east to west, north to south, past and present, examining geographically and culturally diverse landscapes. We will take advantage of our setting in the nation’s capital and pay particular attention to cultural landscapes in the National Capital Region.




Participation (25%): Your frequency in attending in this course, and the quality of your participation, will determine your participation mark.


Ottawa Landscape Assessment (15%): Compare, critique, and assess two of the NCC reports on Ottawa landscapes. The reports and further instructions will be provided by the instructor. The length of this assignment is 6-8 pages. Students will also give a brief (i.e., 3-5 minutes) presentation in class.


Landscape Critique Proposal (10%): For this assignment, students will be asked to write a brief research proposal outlining their final course project: a landscape critique (see below). In this proposal, a student will select a Canadian cultural landscape to study and 1) describe its physical and formal characteristics; 2) explain its general economic, political, cultural and/or social significance; 3) address the sources, readings, and methodologies that will be employed. The length of this assignment is 3-5 pages. Due November 6.


Presentation of Initial Research Findings (10%): In the final weeks of the course, students will be given the opportunity to present their in-progress landscape critique to the rest of the class. This presentation will have the characteristics of a research workshop in which the student outlines their research project in a 15 minute presentation. The rest of the class will then provide constructive criticism and suggestions that will help the student to strengthen their final paper. In other words, this is not intended to be a presentation of finished research but of a work in progress. Due last few weeks of class.


Landscape critique (40%): This paper contains the results of the research that the student has conducted throughout on their chosen Canadian cultural landscape, its history, its “official” social, cultural, and political significance and the manner in which different groups have sought to assign different meanings and uses to that landscape. The length of this paper is between 15-20 pages. However, students do have the options of utilizing a “report” method (i.e., NCC landscape reports) rather than a traditional paper format. Students can also, in consultation with the instructor, supplement or replace their papers with digital approaches: films, photographic essays, websites, GIS maps, etc. Due December 13.


*Late work will be penalized at a rate of 5% per day. You must submit all assignments to get a grade for the course – failure to complete all components can result in an incomplete mark. The format for all formal written assignments will be 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1 inch margins. Use footnotes rather than endnotes, though you have your choice of Chicago or MLA style for referencing.




The University Senate defines plagiarism as “presenting, whether intentionally or not, the ideas, expression of ideas or work of others as one’s own.”  This can include:

  • reproducing or paraphrasing portions of someone else’s published or unpublished material, regardless of the source, and presenting these as one’s own without proper citation or reference to the original source;
  • submitting a take-home examination, essay, laboratory report or other assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else;
  • using ideas or direct, verbatim quotations, or paraphrased material, concepts, or ideas without appropriate acknowledgment in any academic assignment;
  • using another’s data or research findings;
  • failing to acknowledge sources through the use of proper citations when using another’s works and/or failing to use quotation marks;
  • handing in “substantially the same piece of work for academic credit more than once without prior written permission of the course instructor in which the submission occurs.”


Plagiarism is a serious offence which cannot be resolved directly with the course’s instructor.  The Associate Dean of the Faculty conducts a rigorous investigation, including an interview with the student, when an instructor suspects a piece of work has been plagiarized.  Penalties are not trivial. They can include a final grade of “F” for the course.



Academic Accommodation


You may need special arrangements to meet your academic obligations during the term because of disability, pregnancy or religious obligations. Please review the course outline promptly and write to me with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist.


Students with disabilities requiring academic accommodations in this course must register with the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) for a formal evaluation of disability-related needs. Documented disabilities could include but are not limited to mobility/physical impairments, specific Learning Disabilities (LD), psychiatric/psychological disabilities, sensory disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and chronic medical conditions. Registered PMC students are required to contact the PMC, 613-520-6608, every term to ensure that your Instructor receives your Letter of Accommodation, no later than two weeks before the first assignment is due or the first in-class test/midterm requiring accommodations. If you only require accommodations for your formally scheduled exam(s) in this course, please submit your request for accommodations to PMC by Nov. 8, 2013 for the Fall term and March 7, 2014 for the Winter term.


You can visit the Equity Services website to view the policies and to obtain more detailed information on academic accommodation at




All of the readings are available online, in the Carleton library, or from the instructor. You are not required to purchase any books or readings, though you may want to photocopy some of the items that will be put on reserve in the Carleton library (see below). You may also want to purchase copies of certain books (which are not expensive, particularly used copies) that the entire class is required to read since “someone already checked out the library’s copy” is not going to suffice as an excuse (e.g., Jenkins, Passfield).


The following readings are on reserve in the Carleton library. Readings that are not available digitally or online are also marked by an asterisk (*) throughout the course schedule:

-Pamela Stern and Lisa Stevenson, eds., Critical Inuit Studies: An Anthology of Contemporary Arctic Ethnography, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006)

-Stéphane Castonguay and Michèle Dagenais, eds, Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)

-Irene Gammel, ed., Making Avonlea: L.M. Montgomery and Popular Culture (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002)

-L.M. Montgomery, Jane of Lantern Hill (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1937)

-I.S. MacLaren, ed., Culturing Wilderness in Jasper National Park (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2007)

-H. Epp, ed., Three Hundred Prairie Years (Regina, SK: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1993)

-Phil Jenkins, An Acre of Time: The Enduring Value of Place (New York: Macfarlane, Walter, and Ross, 1996)




September 11: Introduction


September 18: What is a Cultural Landscape?

-Graeme Wynn foreword from William Turkel, The Archive of Place: Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2007): ix-xviii (available online in the Carleton library)

-Brian Osborne, “Landscapes, Memory, Monuments and Commemoration: putting identity in its place,” in Canadian Ethnic Studies, Vol. XXXIII, No. 3 (2002): 39-77

-Don Mitchell “Cultural landscapes: just landscapes or landscapes of justice?” Progress in Human Geography 27 (6) (December 2003): 787-96

-Definition and Assessment of Cultural Landscapes of Heritage Value on NCC Lands:

-UNESCO definition:

-Canada’s Cultural Landscapes:

-Laurentian thesis, Staples thesis, Metropolitan-Hinterland thesis – Canadian Encyclopedia Online:


September 25: Indigenous Cultural Landscapes

-An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes (Parks Canada):

-*Beatrice Collignon, “Inuit Place Names and Sense of Place,” in Pamela Stern and Lisa Stevenson, eds., Critical Inuit Studies: An Anthology of Contemporary Arctic Ethnography (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006): 187-205

-Jon Johnson, “The Indigenous Environmental History of Toronto, ‘The Meeting Place’” in Colin Coates et al., eds., Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region (Hamilton, ON: L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian Studies-McMaster University, 2013): 58-69 (available from instructor as a pdf)

-Caroline Desbiens, “Producing North and South: A Political Geography of Hydro Development in Quebec,” Canadian Geographer 48, no. 2 (2004): 101–18


October 2 – Quebec landscapes

-John Crowley, “Taken on the Spot: the Visual Appropriation of New France for the British Cultural Landscape,” The Canadian Historical Review 86, 1 (March 2005): 1-28

-Colin Coates, “Like ‘the Thames towards Putney’: The Appropriation of Landscape in Lower Canada,” Canadian Historical Review Vol LXXIV, no. 3 (September, 1993): 317-343

-Colin Coates, “The Colonial Landscapes of the Early Town,” in Stéphane Castonguay and Michèle Dagenais, eds., Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)

-Luc Noppen and Lucie K. Morisset, “The Architecture of Old Quebec, or the history of a

palimpsest,” Material History Review 1999 (50): 11-25 (available online through the Carleton library, but not available for download)


October 9 – The Capital (Ottawa Landscape Assignment due)

-*Robert Passfield, Building the Rideau Canal: A Pictorial History (Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2004) (note that this for Library use only)

-David Gordon and Brian S. Osborne, “Constructing National Identity in Canada’s Capital, 1900-2000: Confederation Square and the National War Memorial,” Journal of

Historical Geography vol. 30, 4 (October 2004): 618–642

-brief presentations on each student’s Ottawa Landscape Assignment


October 16: Ottawa field trip

-*Phil Jenkins, An Acre of Time: The Enduring Value of Place (New York: Macfarlane, Walter, and Ross, 1996)

-Carleton History Department app and website on Rideau Canal:

-Virtual Museum tours of downtown Ottawa landscapes:

-Center for Culture / History / Environment, Reading the Urban Landscape:


October 23: Great Lakes landscapes

-EHTV episode on Niagara Falls:

-Daniel Macfarlane, “Creating a Cataract: The Transnational Manipulation of Niagara Falls to the 1950s,” in Colin Coates et al., eds., Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region (Hamilton, ON: L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian Studies-McMaster University, 2013) (available from instructor as a pdf)

-Claire Campbell, “Toronto, Old Ontario, and the Near North: Landscapes of the Group of Seven,” in Colin Coates et al., eds., Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region (Hamilton, ON: L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian Studies-McMaster University, 2013) (available from instructor as a pdf)

-Daniel Macfarlane, Fluid Border: The Canada-U.S. Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project (Vancouver: UBC Press, forthcoming), Introduction, chapters 4-6, and Conclusion (available from instructor)


October 30: No Class (break)


November 6: East Coast landscapes (Landscape Critique Proposal due)

-*James de Jonge, “Through the Eyes of Memory: L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish,” in Irene Gammel, ed., Making Avonlea: L.M. Montgomery and Popular Culture (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002): 252-267

-*L.M. Montgomery, Jane of Lantern Hill (McClelland & Stewart, 1937): chapters 13-17 and 34

-Jennifer Nelson, “The Space of Africville: Creating, Regulating and Remembering the Urban ‘Slum’,” Canadian Journal of Law and Society/Revue canadienne de droit et société vol. 15, no. 2 (2000): 163-185

-P. Ennals and D. Holdsworth, “Vernacular Architecture and the Culture Landscape of the Maritime Provinces: A Reconnaissance,” Acadiensis 10 (1981): 86-105


November 13: Western Canada landscapes

-Christopher Armstrong and H.V. Nelles, Wilderness and Waterpower: How Banff National Park Became a Hydroelectric Storage Reservoir (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2013): Introduction, chapters 6, 8, 10, Conclusion (available to download at:

-Brian K. Ray et al, “The Changing ‘face’ of the Suburbs: Issues of Ethnicity and Residential Change in Suburban Vancouver,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21(1) (1997): 75-99

-Sean Kheraj, “Restoring Nature: Ecology, Memory, and the Storm History of Vancouver’s Stanley Park,” Canadian Historical Review 88, 4 (2007): 577-612


November 20: Prairie landscapes & Presentations

-*Randy Widdis, “Saskatchewan: The Present Cultural Landscape,” in H. Epp, ed., Three Hundred Prairie Years (Regina, SK: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1993)

-Joan M. Schwartz, “More than ‘Competent description of an intractably empty landscape’: A strategy for critical engagement with historical photographs,” Historical Geography 31 (2003): 105-130

-R.D. Francis, “The Ideal and the Real; The Image of the Canadian West in the Settlement Period,” in Richard R.C. Davis and R. Ruggles, eds., Rupert’s Land: A Cultural Tapestry (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 1988) (available online or in print in Carleton library)


November 27: Presentations


December 4: Presentations (last day of class)