Picture of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson PhD Assistant Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability

Assistant Professor, History, College of Arts and Science

Arts 822

Research Area(s)

  • Environmental History
  • Energy History
  • Canadian History
  • Sustainability
  • Agroecosystems
  • Commodities

Academic Credentials

  • PhD, History, York University
  • MA, History, Queen's University
  • BA (Honours), History, Queen's University

Research Profile

I am currently working on three projects. The first is a book that explores the ways that the environmental realities of the Canadian Shield shaped the rural identity of Muskoka, Ontario during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I examine the transformation of Muskoka from a strictly Indigenous place into a settler colonial society and the rise of tourism, and assess the ways that social, economic, and environmental changes shaped sustainability and rural identity in the past. I am also working on a new project on the history of coal in Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. This work examines the ways that efforts to connect sites of production with sites of consumption shaped communities, economies, and environments in both rural and urban Canada, as well as how coal pulled Canada into an industrialized and globalized North Atlantic world. Finally, I am engaged in research with the Sustainable Farm Systems project, which explores the socioecological transition in agriculture, from traditional, organic practices at the end of the nineteenth century to modern, industrialized processes by the end of the twentieth century. My work on this project involves tracing the flow of energy through agroecosystems on the Great Plains of the United States, and in particular the role of fossil fuel energy in groundwater irrigation on the High Plains. I am also working with Jim Clifford on a project tracing the social and ecological consequences of the flow of global commodities used by London's nineteenth-century leather industry.

News and Media

Select Publications

Cunfer, G., Watson, A., and MacFadyen, J.  2017.  Profiles of an Agricultural Frontier: The American Great Plains, 1850-2000.  Regional Environmental Change, 1-12.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1157-x

Watson, A.  2017.  Pioneering a Rural Identity on the Canadian Shield: Tourism, Household Economies, and Poor Soils in Muskoka, Ontario, 1870-1900.  Canadian Historical Review, 98(2): 261-293. https://doi.org/10.3138/chr.3783

Watson, A.  2016.  Coal in Canada.  p. 213-250 in Powering Up Canada: A History of Power, Fuel, and Energy from 1600. Sandwell, R.W. (ed.) McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Watson, A.  2016.  Mobility and Sustainability: Lakeside Supply Networks in the Age of Steamboat Navigation, Muskoka, Ontario, 1880-1930.” In Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History, edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin Coates. (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016), 79-102.

Clifford, J., Alex, B., Coates, C.M., Klein, E., and Watson, A.  2016.  Geoparsing History: Locating Commodities in Ten Million Pages of Nineteenth-Century Sources. Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 43(3): 115-131.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01615440.2015.1116419

Hinrichs, U., Alex, B., Clifford, J., Watson, A., Quigley, A., Klein, E., and Coates, C.M.  2015.  Trading Consequences: A Case Study of Combining Text Mining and Visualization to Facilitate Document Exploration.  Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 30(Supplement 1): i50-i75.  https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqv046