Levelling the Lake
404 pages, 6 x 9
18 photos, 12 maps, 1 chart
Release Date:01 Sep 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019

Levelling the Lake

Transboundary Resource Management in the Lake of the Woods Watershed

UBC Press

Stretching across parts of Ontario, Manitoba, and Minnesota, the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake basin spans boundaries and jurisdictions. Levelling the Lake explores a century and a half of social, economic, and legal arrangements through which the resources and environment of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake watershed have been both harnessed and harmed.

Jamie Benidickson traces the environmental consequences of logging, mining, forest industries, commercial fishing, hydro-electricity production, and recreation on the natural environment and the often unanticipated impacts of these activities on water flows and quality as well as on local residents, including Indigenous communities, which encouraged new legal and institutional responses. Assessing the transition from primary resource extraction toward sustainable development at a watershed level with a focus on law and governance, Levelling the Lake also shows how interjurisdictional and transboundary issues – many involving the Canada-US International Joint Commission – continue to play a significant role throughout the region.

Levelling the Lake features historical examples offering hard lessons and successful experiments that provide encouragement for the effective management of ecosystems such as the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake basin.

Levelling the Lake will interest students and scholars of environmental history, resource management, legal history, historical geography, and Indigenous studies. Those who work in US-Canada environmental relations and water management will also find this book highly relevant, as will residents of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake region.

Benidickson is to be congratulated for both the depth and quality of his research. His understanding of the complex legal and constitutional frameworks which have been imposed upon this region from the 1860s to the present is outstanding. [...]

This is an important work – and a pioneering one at that. Jim Mochoruk, NiCHE

Benidickson's environmental-legal history of the Lake of the Woods area considers the tensions between the geographical integrity of the river basin and various geopolitical entities that have sought to assert their will over parts of it. This book is a rare example of regional history that effectively situates the local within the administrative scales and networks of power bearing on it. Shannon Stunden Bower, Department of History and Classics, University of Alberta
Levelling the Lake offers perspective on the larger continuing challenge of understanding both ourselves and the trajectory of development that created the present. In the twenty-first century, it is well to remember that the impacts of particular actions on people, landscapes, and ecologies may only become evident years or decades after these actions are taken. from the Foreword by Graeme Wynn
Professor Benidickson travelled to a fascinating corner of the Canada-US border, explored its every nook as a paddler and historian, and gathered a treasure trove of stories along the way. His comprehensive study of the Lake of the Woods region reveals how political boundaries and water bodies shape us and are shaped by us. As we consider erecting walls along our border waters, Professor Benidickson's story of cooperation and conflict offers a much-needed history lesson. Noah Hall, founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
Jamie Benidickson teaches environmental law at the University of Ottawa where he is a member of the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability. His publications include Idleness, Water, and a Canoe: Reflections of Paddling for Pleasure; The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage; and, with Bruce Hodgins, The Temagami Experience: Recreation, Resources, and Aboriginal Rights in the Northern Ontario Wilderness.

Foreword by Graeme Wynn


1 Building Boundaries

2 Cultural, Commercial, and Constitutional Fishing

3 This Land Is My Land – It Can’t Be Your Land

4 Water Rights and Water Powers

5 Pulp and Paper: From Emergence to Emergency

6 Bacterial Waterways

7 Levelling the Lake

8 Power Struggles

9 Economy and Ecology

10 We Are All in This Together

11 "Slowly to the Rescue as a Community Fails"

12 Lumbering towards Sustainability

13 Fishing Contests

14 "For Water Knows No Borders"

Conclusion: Finding the Watershed

Notes; Suggested Readings; Index

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