Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1993


Published in Great Plains Research 3:1 (February 1993), pp. 135-137. Copyright © 1993 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


As a graduate student at McMaster and Queen's, I was made very aware of the contribution of J. Wreford Watson to Canadian geography. This is understandable since he was largely responsible for the establishment of geography departments at both these institutions as well as at Carleton. This collection of essays by former graduate students, friends, and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic cover many of the themes of inquiry that interested Watson. The contents focus upon the changing character of Canadian landscapes and society, including dimensions of its historical development, its present spatial forms and current social issues. The essays are arranged into four different sections, each with an introduction by the editor who also provides an opening chapter discussing Watson's history in Canada and his fascination with the social geography of this country, and a concluding appendix outlining his geographical writing with a full bibliography.

Part One, a collection of articles on the cultural and ethnic mix of Canada, focuses on the historical competition between the two founding peoples over control of and access to political power, emphasizing that the existence of this competition is at the heart of Canadian society. At the same time, Pierre Camu, Jacques Bernier, and 1. David Wood recognize that alongside the fundamental dualism of the country, regionalism, pluralism, and the relationship with the United States play an important part in economic, political, and social organization. The emphasis on the historical-geographic contexts of dualism, plurality, and regionalism are designed to set the stage for subsequent sections which focus on urban, rural, and planning dimensions of Canadian society.