Looking for Old Ontario / Edition 2

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Overview

The slogan on Ontario's licence plates, 'Yours to Discover,' was designed to promote travel opportunities within the province. Every year, thousands of tourists drive along country roads, past farmyards and through hamlets, en route to popular vacation spots. In Looking for Old Ontario, Thomas McIlwraith shows that many destinations are closer at hand than one might imagine, and invites travellers to rediscover familiar countryside landmarks by 'reading' them as chapters in a rich historical narrative. Surveyors long ago scored Ontario's land, and generations have since inscribed it with residences, businesses, and institutions. This book, the result of thirty years of field work and archival research, is a reflection on and an interpretation of the ways in which the land and its inhabitants interrelate.

Looking for Old Ontario guides readers through the vernacular landscape of the province, examining barns, fences, jails, post offices, inns, mills, canals, railways, roadsides, cemeteries, and much more. McIlwraith emphasizes ordinary features of the cultural landscape which communicate social meaning to the observant eye. The landscape tells us that Ontario has been inhabited by thrifty people; this we can conclude by looking at the economical use and reuse of construction materials. Yet the landscape also tells us that Ontario's residents have been inclined to show off: consider the province's unusually large number of elegant brick dwellings. To read a landscape is to think about such connections, and McIlwraith's contemplative style differentiates his work from manuals or handbooks.

Since landscape interpretation is a highly visual subject, Looking for Old Ontario is extensively illustrated with photographs, drawings, and maps. It will be useful to general readers interested in recognizing the broader meanings of their communities' heritage, as well as to students of geography, history, and planning.

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Editorial Reviews

Now Magazine

'McIlwraith confesses a lifelong love for rural and small-town Ontario ... That passion shows through on every page of this enchanting book ... McIllwraith's supple prose is generously imbued with respect for both the subject - the people who built Ontario over the course of two centuries - and for the reader ... At every turn, McIlwraith forms the all-too-unusual alchemy of making history as much a part of present-day reality as the air around us. Highly recommended.'

— Ted Mumford

Ontario Historical Society Bulletin

'It views history by looking at the landscape, at the many obvious evidences of human activity ... Read this book and you will never look at the rural landscape - in Ontario, or anywhere else - in the same way again.'

— Chris Raible

Choice

"McIlwraith has written an excellent regional landscape analysis from a cultural geographer's perspective. He makes a concerted effort to link the material culture of Ontario with its evolution as a settled environment. Through an understanding of how the landscape has changed over time, present-day citizens can contribute to a dynamic process; every citizen who lives in the region is a beneficiary.'

— G. Jeane, Samford University

Chris Raible

'It views history by looking at the landscape, at the many obvious evidences of human activity ... Read this book and you will never look at the rural landscape - in Ontario, or anywhere else - in the same way again.'

G. Jeane

"McIlwraith has written an excellent regional landscape analysis from a cultural geographer's perspective. He makes a concerted effort to link the material culture of Ontario with its evolution as a settled environment. Through an understanding of how the landscape has changed over time, present-day citizens can contribute to a dynamic process; every citizen who lives in the region is a beneficiary.'

Ted Mumford

'McIlwraith confesses a lifelong love for rural and small-town Ontario ... That passion shows through on every page of this enchanting book ... McIllwraith's supple prose is generously imbued with respect for both the subject - the people who built Ontario over the course of two centuries - and for the reader ... At every turn, McIlwraith forms the all-too-unusual alchemy of making history as much a part of present-day reality as the air around us. Highly recommended.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802076588
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 5/24/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.73 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas F. McIlwraith is a professor in the Department of Geography at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He is a member of the original Organizing Committee and served as co-ordinator for the concise edition. He is the author of Looking for Old Ontario.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
1 Acknowledging landscape 3
2 The evolving vernacular 15
3 Natural and human history 32
4 Surveys and place names 50
5 Building materials and arts 71
6 Houses 103
7 Revealing details 126
8 Community buildings 141
9 Barns 173
10 Fences 191
11 Power and mills 203
12 Graves and monuments 223
13 Farms 241
14 Roadsides 249
15 Transport systems 262
16 Townscapes 281
17 Boundaries 295
18 Decay and renewal 314
Appendix A Structure and outside finish 335
Appendix B Halls 336
Appendix C A fence typology 338
Notes 339
Suggested Reading 377
Selected Bibliography 381
Illustration Credits 387
Index 389
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