Best New Articles March 2017


Because, let’s face it – who has time to catch up on all the journal articles published in Canadian history?

Welcome back to the Best New Articles series, where each month, I post a list of my favourite new articles! Don’t forget to also check out my favourites from previous months, which you can access by clicking here.

This month I read articles from:

Quick note: As I’ve mentioned previously, some of these journals place a hold on releasing their material to non-subscribers. This hold can range anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Since I would like to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible when reporting on new publications, I will include new issues as they become available, in cases when they there is a hold. So, if you see journal issues that look old or out of place, that’s why.

Here are my favourites:


Matthew Barrett, “’Natural leaders of a democratic army:’ Parliament Goes to War,” British Journal of Canadian Studies 30, no. 1 (2017): 23-44.


What it’s about: This article focuses on the experiences of sitting Canadian politicians, including MPs, MNAs, MLAs, and one Senator, who raised battalions from among their own constituents during World War I. Having been raised on Victorian ideals of masculinity, and in response to criticisms about old men sending young men out to die, these politicians appointed themselves as colonels for their battalions. However, upon reaching England, most of these battalions were broken up, and the colonels sent home due to advanced age and/or physical unfitness. Shamed and humiliated, these Parliamentary soldiers reinterpreted their ideals of manhood to emphasize civic responsibility.

What I loved: In addition to being one of the rare articles to focus on older individuals (still a seriously underdeveloped field in Canadian history), this article deals with an issue that continues to have contemporary relevance: military service for politicians. In both WW1 and today, serving on the front lines in war is seen as a mark of honour, while those who chose to remain behind are often criticized for being self-serving or cowardly. Witness the valourization of politicians like John McCain or Harjit Sajjan for having “real experience” and “understanding sacrifice,” versus politicians who have never served in a military conflict.

Favourite quote: “When the House of Commons met for a new session in early 1916, several of the recently appointed commanding officers arrived in Ottawa wearing their CEF uniforms. Those on the opposition bench ridiculed the military dress of government members as blatant partisan pageantry.” p. 28

“In some cases surplus commanders received a week-long ‘Cook’s tour’ in France, which allowed them to see trench conditions and meet front-line troops. Designed to appease aggrieved surplus officers, these brief tours were often seen by ordinary soldiers and field officers as unnecessary and reckless. ‘Let us hope, boys’, one reserve battalion newspaper joked, ‘that in the next war we will all be M.P.’s so we will have a chance to step away from the war for a short time’.” p. 34

Suggested uses: This article will obviously be of interest to military historians and enthusiasts who specialize in WW1.  I also think that this article may be a useful piece for a course on WW1 in Canada, particularly with respect to discourses of war and war service. It would also be interesting to use in a course on gender, since not only does this article examine the intersections of age and gender (though it is not phrased as such explicitly), but it considers inter-generational conflicts around ideals of manhood and masculinity. Finally, I think this article has a great deal to say about contemporary debates about politicians and war.


Darcy Ingram, “National Aspirations, Governance Networks, and the Development of Canada’s Animal Welfare Movement,” British Journal of Canadian Studies 30, no. 1 (2017): 92-113.


What it’s about: This article focuses on attempts to create a national animal welfare movement in Canada beginning in the 1860s. Set against a backdrop of state- and nation-formation, this article argues that while there was a great deal of sympathy and support for the movement, particularly since it was seen as evidence of the nation’s ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ spirit,  it was ultimately unable to establish a national organization due to competition interests and local interests. Working from a model of ‘governance’ rather than ‘government,’ this article also outlines the ways in which regulation emerged through the partnerships between the (equally fast-growing) state and civil organizations.

What I loved: This article works for me on many different levels, considering such subjects as state formation, the social/moral regulation movement, nationalism, imperialism, regionalism, and class-conflict, all in relation to the animal welfare movement. This is also one of the few articles that examines a movement at both the national as well as the regional/local level. Finally, Ingram argues that economic considerations played a far greater role in the animal welfare movement than has been previously considered, particularly at a time when labour animals were the central force that moved agriculture, industry, manufacturing, transportation, and settlement.

Favourite quote(s): – should be read together

“On 17 February 1859, there appeared in Quebec City’s Morning Chronicle newspaper the following advertisement: ‘On Tuesday next…. TWO CARIBOUS will be on the Ice, opposite the City – tied with a rope about 25 or 30 fathoms long – and shot at by persons paying one dollar each shot, and at a distance of 500 yards. A subscription list will be taken round for subscribers. For further information apply to GOSSELIN & LARUE, 17, Palace Street. ‘” p. 92

“National setbacks aside, however, it is clear that the animal welfare movement gained considerable ground during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. When for example the owner of a hot air balloon advertised in June 1895 his intention to launch a cow into the air from Montreal’s Mount Royal Park, his plan was met by more than the few letters to the editor that Gosselin and Larue encountered in their foiled caribou scheme nearly four decades before.” p. 108

Suggested uses: The field of animal history is one that continues to grow, and I hope to see more courses offered in this area, particularly since, as Ingram notes, regulation with respect to animals had more to do with regulating humans than anything else. This article, in particular, would be a great addition to any such course. At the same time, I think that this article would be a great addition to any course considering the social and moral reform movements as well as state and nation formation.


Tina Loo, “Political Animals: Barren Ground Caribou and the Managers in a ‘Post-Normal’ Age,” Environmental History (March 2017): 1-27.

Author’s Twitter: @LooTina


What it’s about: This article examines what happens during conservation ‘crisis events,’ when scientists are placed in a position where they have insufficient or unreliable data, and yet are required to choose a path forward.  This article argues that the uncertainty inherent in such periods facilitated the emergence of ‘post-normal science,’ where scientists extended their ‘peer community’ by consulting with community experts, and that this type of science emerged much earlier than previously believed. This is what occurred in the Canadian north from the 1940s to the 1980s, when there was rising concern about the declining barren ground caribou, but lack of certainty regarding what was happening and why. This led to the establishment of the Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board, where scientists and Inuit caribou experts were able to work around cultural differences due to their shared interest in conserving the caribou herds.

What I loved: As depressing as it sounds, this is one of the few articles that I have encountered that examines some aspect of Indigenous history in Canada and actually uses sources documenting how the Indigenous people perceived what was happening. While Loo recognizes the limitations that current sources offer, she does not reduce Indigenous peoples into one homogenous group, but instead considers how different communities of Dene, Nehiyawak (Cree) and Inuit responded to conservation efforts and the extent to which they chose to participate in the co-management of the caribou herds. At the same time, I also appreciated this article for some of the same reasons as I liked Ingram’s; Loo’s approach combines national and regional/local interests, and she views the regulation of animals and humans as imperialism.

Favourite quote: “As government officials discovered, however, not all Indigenous peoples were equally inclined to work with scientists. […] While caribou ranged freely over the tundra, their managers had to negotiate a com- plex terrain of people and interests. Despite what happened to the Sayisi Dene, who were forcibly relocated as a caribou conservation measure, the Dene of northern Manitoba were amenable to discuss- ing management because the Qamanirjuaq caribou on which they de- pended no longer migrated as far south, and into their hunting territories, as they used to. In contrast, the Keewatin Inuit had seen no such decline in herd size and were not convinced there was an issue that needed to be addressed, especially by the territorial government. Dependent on the Beverly herd, the Dene and Cree in northern Saskatchewan were indifferent. Insofar as there was any concern, it centered on the prospect that in the absence of the Qamanirjuaq caribou, Manitoba’s Indigenous people would turn to “their” animals, placing greater hunting pressure on the Beverly herd.” p. 12-13

Suggested uses: This article will obviously be of interest to scholars of environmental history for both research and teaching purposes.  As more and more people eye the North for resource extraction and climate change continues to devastate Northern Indigenous communities, articles such as this one should be useful for policy makers when considering the potential of ‘post-normal science’ and co-management. This type of article can also help provide information about how to successfully engage in cross-cultural work while avoiding the pitfalls of neocolonialism. Finally, as the Canadian North continues to have a larger presence on the national stage, I hope to see more courses on the Canadian North offered in southern universities and colleges; this article should be part of any reading list for such courses.


Also Recommended:


That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you did, please consider sharing it on the social media platform of your choice. Don’t forget to check back on Friday for our monthly blog post about upcoming publications in Canadian history. I’m warning you, it will be a doozy – everyone’s launching at Congress this year! Happy Passover and I’ll see you then!

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