In the latter half of the twentieth century, legions of industrial pioneers came to northwestern British Columbia with grand plans for mines, dams, and energy-development schemes. Yet many of their projects never materialized or were simply abandoned midstream. Unbuilt Environments reveals that these failed resource projects had lasting effects on the natural and human environment.
Drawing on a range of case studies to analyze the social and environmental impacts of unfinished projects, Jonathan Peyton considers development failure a productive concept for northwestern Canada. In this first analysis of the history of resource exploitation in this part of the world, he looks at the closed asbestos mine and town site at Cassiar, an abandoned rail grade (the Dease Lake Extension), an imagined series of hydroelectric installations (the Stikine-Iskut project), a failed LNG export facility (Dome Petroleum), and the much-debated Northwest Transmission Line. He finds that these unrealized projects and past development failures continue to shape contemporary resource conflicts in this region.
This book will be of interest to scholars of history, geography, environmental studies, and Aboriginal studies, as well as those working in anthropology, resource and development studies, and political ecology.
Unbuilt Environments is an exciting and critical work of scholarship that explores the diverse environmental and social legacies of northern resource development. Focused on northern British Columbia and the Stikine, this work gives readers new ways to think about the industrial history of Canada’s North.
Unbuilt Environments is a product of its time in that it is, most basically, a history of the present. The past of the Stikine is invoked here, not so much for its own intrinsic value but to comment on contemporary circumstances. Peyton does his work cleverly and eschews strict narrative chronology for an approach that tacks back and forth through time, to tie past and present together and challenge readers to reflect critically on contemporary circumstances.
Foreword: How Shall We Live? / Graeme Wynn
Introduction: The Stikine Watershed and the Unbuilt Environment
1 Cassiar, Asbestos: How to Know a Place
2 Liberating Stranded Resources: The Dease Lake Extension as the Railway to Nowhere
3 Corporate Ecology: BC Hydro, Failure, and the Stikine-Iskut Project
4 “Industry for the future”: Dome Petroleum and the Afterlives of “Aggressive” Development
5 Transmission: Contesting Energy and Enterprise in the New Northwest Gold Rush
Conclusion: The Tumbling Geography
Appendix; Notes; Bibliography; Index
Investing in Place
Economic Renewal in Northern British Columbia
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