URBAN HISTORY REVIEW/
REVUE D'HISTOIRE URBAINE

Vol. 45, No. 1
Publication Date: 2017-12-01
Number of articles: 10

Editorial

Pages: 5–6
New Research on the History of Canada’s Urbanization 
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By / par Owen Temby

Articles

Pages: 7–17
Modern Living “hewn out of the unknown wilderness”: Aluminum, City Planning, and Alcan’s British Columbian Industrial Town of Kitimat in the 1950s 
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By / par Brad Cross

Abstract

As a new town on the Northern British Columbian frontier, Kitimat represented mid-twentieth-century ideas of industrial resource development and town planning. Alcan executives saw Kitimat’s town design as crucial to the recruitment and retention of a workforce for its megaproject of the 1950s and 1960s, which became the crown jewel of its global enterprise. The combination of high-tech aluminum production and town planning techniques promised employees a family-oriented lifestyle in a state-of-the-art town. Kitimat spearheaded this push for a new kind of frontier experience.

Pages: 18–35
“An Eden that is practically uninhabited by humans”: Manipulating Wilderness in Managing Vancouver’s Drinking Water, 1880–1930 
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By / par Mark Kuhlberg

Abstract

Vancouver is known internationally as one of the world’s most livable and beautiful cities, and its “natural” attributes are seen as being integral to what makes it so special. Nestled on a small plateau between the alluring beaches and dramatic shoreline of the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Range, the city has trumpeted its aesthetically stunning environment for over one century. Central to this message has been the fact that Vancouver’s drinking water supply is so clean that it has historically required no chemical or other treatment—besides a basic filtering—before it is fit for human consumption.

Those who were initially responsible for administering the city’s water supply demonstrated most curious behaviour in carrying out their duties. To be sure, they exalted their water for its purity and broadcast this message to the world, believing as they did that such a precious resource could originate only in pristine wilderness that was as pleasing to the eye as it was free from human intrusions. As a result, they went to enormous lengths to guard the basins from which this water came from anthropogenic activity. Paradoxically, they were completely comfortable with undertaking a series of measures to re-engineer and manage the watersheds upon which they depended, an approach that included dumping tons of a deadly toxin on the local trees. All these steps were simply part of their efforts to enhance the bounty with which Providence had gifted them, and to them it remained pure and unsullied as a result. The early history of managing Vancouver’s drinking water thus represents an extraordinary instance in which civic boosters viewed their actions through a prism that blurred the line between the human and non-human worlds, and their story highlights how often our attempts to manage “nature” is prone to creating issues that are potentially more dangerous than the ones we are trying to solve.

Pages: 37–49
Urban Elites, Energy, and Smoke Policy in Montreal during the Interwar Period 
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By / par Owen Temby and Joshua MacFadyen

Abstract

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Montreal’s air was blackened by smoke from coal-burning homes, factories, and the locomotives and lake freighters connecting its growing economy to the rest of Canada. Lacking regulatory tools suited to the task of abating this nuisance, the municipal government passed the country’s first modern smoke bylaw, consisting of an objective emissions standard, a smoke control bureau, and requirements for the installation and utilization of technology to lessen emissions. In providing an account of the process through which Montreal’s smoke nuisance was addressed, this article describes the role of the city’s most influential local growth coalition, the Montreal Board of Trade, in introducing the issue on the city’s policy agenda, participating in the formulation of a policy response, and monitoring the implementation of the resulting bylaw. The Board of Trade sought a resolution to the problem because it damaged the city’s reputation and business climate. Consistent with other documented examples of smoke abatement in large urban areas, the response promoted by this elite growth coalition consisted largely of technology-based measures that managed the problem while eschewing recourse to measures that would dampen economic activity.

Book Reviews

Pages: 54–55
Les marins du Havre. Gens de mer et société urbaine au XIX. Nicolas Cochard, (Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016), 336 p. 
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By / par Anthony Steinhoff
Pages: 55–56
The Modern Girl: Feminine Modernities, the Body, and Commodities in the 1920s. Jane Nicholas. . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. Pp. 295 
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By / par Jenny Ellison
Pages: 56–57
Mine, travail et société à Kirkland Lake. Guy Gaudreau, Sophie Blais, et Kevin Auger, , Sudbury, Prise de parole, 2016, 307 p. 
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By / par Jean-Philippe Bernard
Pages: 57–58
Paris ville ouvrière. Une histoire occultée (1789-1848). Maurizio Gribaudi, , Paris, La Découverte, 2014. 400 p. 
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By / par Marie-Pascale Leclerc
Pages: 58–59
Jardins et jardiniers laurentiens 1660-1800. Creuse le temps, creuse la terre. Jean-Pierre Hardy, , Québec, Septentrion, 2016, 298 pages 
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By / par Guillaume Fortin
Pages: 59–60
Planning Toronto. The Planners, the Plans, Their Legacies, 1940-1980. Richard White. . Vancouver : UBC Press, 2016. 450 pp. 
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By / par Frédéric Mercure-Jolette