Negotiating a River
356 pages, 6 x 9
42 b&w photos, 10 maps
Release Date:01 Mar 2014
Release Date:01 Mar 2014

Negotiating a River

Canada, the US, and the Creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway

UBC Press

It was a megaproject half a century in the making -- possibly the largest construction operation, and certainly the largest relocation project, in Canadian history, and a technological and engineering marvel that stands as one of the most ambitious borderlands undertakings ever embarked upon by two countries. The planning and building of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project is one of the defining episodes in North American history.

The project began with transnational negotiations that spanned two world wars and the formative years of the Cold War and included a failed attempt to construct an all-Canadian seaway, which was scuttled by US national security fears. Once an agreement was reached, the massive engineering and construction operation began, as did the large-scale rehabilitation scheme to move people and infrastructure away from the thousands of acres of land that would soon be flooded.

While the story of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project is too often relegated to a footnote in Canadian history, Negotiating a River looks at the profound impacts of this megaproject, from the complex diplomatic negotiations, political manoeuvring, and environmental diplomacy to the implications on national identities and transnational relations.

This book will be of interest to those studying culture, politics, state building, and borderlands, as well as history, political science, Canadian-American diplomacy, Canadian studies, resource management, environmental studies, and industrial development.


  • 2015, Winner - Floyd S. Chalmers Award, The Champlain Society
Drawing from and speaking to many intellectual constituencies in this remarkably wide-ranging work, Macfarlane deepens our understanding of twentieth-century Canadian history even as he broadens the scope of Canadian environmental historical scholarship and leaves his readers to ponder the illusory boundaries between technologies and environments. from the Foreword by Graeme Wynn
Daniel Macfarlane combines impressive archival research with a synthetic approach engaging diverse fields, particularly Canada-US relations and environmental history, but also transnational, borderlands, water, hydroelectric, and technological studies. This innovative and often bold book heralds a generation of scholars who will obliterate the lines between subdisciplines and bring Canadian history and historians together. Norman Hillmer, professor of history and international affairs, Carleton University and co-author of For Better or For Worse: Canada and the United States into the Twenty-First Century
Daniel Macfarlane is an assistant professor of environmental and sustainability studies at Western Michigan University.

Foreword: National Dreams / Graeme Wynn

Introduction: River to Seaway

Part 1: Negotiating

1 Accords and Discords

2 Watershed Decisions

3 Caught between Two Fires

Part 2: Building

4 Fluid Relations

5 Lost Villages

6 Flowing Forward

Conclusion: To the Heart of the Continent




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