In the early 1900s, British Columbia embarked on a brief but intense
effort to manufacture a modern countryside. The government wished to
reward veterans of the Great War with new lives: soliders and other
settlers would benefit from living in a rural community, considered a
more healthy and moral alternative to urban life. But the fundamental
reason for the land resettlement project was the rise of progressive or
"new liberal" thinking, as reformers advocated an expanded
role for the state in guaranteeing the prosperity and economic security
of its citizens.
This ideological shift pushed the government to intervene directly
in the management of not only society but also the natural environment.
As most arable, accessible land in British Columbia was already being
farmed by 1919, the state had to undertake environmental engineering
projects on a scale not yet attempted in the province. Creating a
Modern Countryside examines how this process unfolded, identifies
its successes and failures, and demonstrates how the human-environment
relationship of the early twentieth century shaped the province as
it is today.
James Murton is an associate professor of history at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario.
List of Illustrations Foreword: Soldiers' Fields / Graeme Wynn Acknowledgments A Note on Terminology and Units of Measure Introduction Part 1: A Modern Countryside 1 Liberalism and the Land 2 Soldiers, Science, and an Alternative Modernity Part 2: Where Apples Grow Best 3 Stump Farms: Soldier Settlement at Merville 4 Creating Order at Sumas 5 Achieving the Modern Countryside Part 3: Back to Work 6 Pattullo's New Deal Conclusion Appendix Notes Bibliography Index