How formerly enslaved people found freedom and built community in Ontario
In 1849, the Reverend William King and fifteen once-enslaved people he had inherited founded the Canadian settlement of Buxton on Ontario land set aside for sale to Blacks. Though initially opposed by some neighboring whites, Buxton grew into a 700-person agricultural community that supported three schools, four churches, a hotel, a lumber mill, and a post office.
Sharon A. Roger Hepburn tells the story of the settlers from Buxton’s founding of through its first decades of existence. Buxton welcomed Black men, woman, and children from all backgrounds to live in a rural setting that offered benefits of urban life like social contact and collective security. Hepburn’s focus on social history takes readers inside the lives of the people who built Buxton and the hundreds of settlers drawn to the community by the chance to shape new lives in a country that had long represented freedom from enslavement.
A fascinating deep dive into one city’s urban policy—and the anxiety over immigrants that informs it
The city of Toronto is often held up as a leader in diversity and inclusion. In Fearing the Immigrant, however, Parastou Saberi argues that Toronto’s urban policies are influenced by a territorialized and racialized security agenda—one that parallels the “War on Terror.” Focusing on the figure of the immigrant and so-called immigrant neighborhoods as the targets of urban policy, Saberi offers an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to the politics of racialization and the governing of alterity through space in contemporary cities.
A comprehensive study of urban policymaking in Canada’s largest city from the 1990s to the late 2010s, Fearing the Immigrant uses Toronto as a jumping-off point to understand how the nexus of development, racialization, and security works at the urban and international levels. Saberi situates urban policymaking in Toronto in relation to the dominant policies of international development and public health, counterinsurgency, and humanitarian intervention. Engaging with the genealogies and contemporary developments of major policy techniques involving mapping and policy concepts such as poverty, security, policing, development, empowerment, as well as social determinants of health, equity, and prevention, she scrutinizes the parallel ways these techniques and concepts operate in urban policy and international relations.
Fearing the Immigrant ultimately asserts that the geopolitical fear of the immigrant is central to the formation of urban policy in Toronto. Rather than addressing the root causes of poverty, urban policy as it has been practiced aims to pacify the specter of urban unrest and to secure the production of a neocolonial urban order. As such, this book is an urgent call to reimagine urban policy in the name of equality and social justice.
"Shall a man be dragged back to Slavery from our Free Soil, without an open trial of his right to Liberty?" —Handbill circulated in Milwaukee on March 11, 1854
In Finding Freedom, Ruby West Jackson and Walter T. McDonald provide readers with the first narrative account of the life of Joshua Glover, the runaway slave who was famously broken out of jail by thousands of Wisconsin abolitionists in 1854. Employing original research, the authors chronicle Glover's days as a slave in St. Louis, his violent capture and thrilling escape in Milwaukee, his journey on the Underground Railroad, and his 33 years of freedom in rural Canada.
While Jackson and McDonald demonstrate how the catalytic "Glover incident" captured national attention—pitting the proud state of Wisconsin against the Supreme Court and adding fuel to the pre-Civil War fire—their primary focus is on the ordinary citizens, both black and white, with whom Joshua Glover interacted. A bittersweet story of bravery and compassion, Finding Freedom provides the first full picture of the man for whom so many fought, and around whom so much history was made.
An extraordinary illustrated biography of a Métis man and Anishinaabe woman navigating great changes in their homeland along the U.S.–Canada border in the early twentieth century
John Linklater, of Anishinaabeg, Cree, and Scottish ancestry, and his wife, Tchi-Ki-Wis, of the Lac La Croix First Nation, lived in the canoe and border country of Ontario and Minnesota from the 1870s until the 1930s. During that time, the couple experienced radical upheavals in the Quetico–Superior region, including the cutting of white and red pine forests, the creation of Indian reserves/reservations and conservation areas, and the rise of towns, tourism, and mining. With broad geographical sweep, historical significance, and biographical depth, Making the Carry tells their story, overlooked for far too long.
John Linklater, a renowned game warden and skilled woodsman, was also the bearer of traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous heritage, both of which he was deeply committed to teaching others. He was sought by professors, newspaper reporters, museum personnel, and conservationists—among them Sigurd Olson, who considered Linklater a mentor. Tchi-Ki-Wis, an extraordinary craftswoman, made a sweeping array of necessary yet beautiful objects, from sled dog harnesses to moose calls to birch bark canoes. She was an expert weaver of large Anishinaabeg cedar bark mats with complicated geometric designs, a virtually lost art.
Making the Carry traces the routes by which the couple came to live on Basswood Lake on the international border. John’s Métis ancestors with deep Hudson’s Bay Company roots originally came from Orkney Islands, Scotland, by way of Hudson Bay and Red River, or what is now Winnipeg. His family lived in Manitoba, northwest Ontario, northern Minnesota, and, in the case ofJohn and Tchi-Ki-Wis, on Isle Royale. A journey through little-known Canadian history, the book provides an intimate portrait of Métis people.
Complete with rarely seen photographs of activities from dog mushing to guiding to lumbering, as well as of many objects made by Tchi-Ki-Wis, such as canoes, moccasins, and cedar mats, Making the Carry is a window on a traditional way of life and a restoration of two fascinating Indigenous people to their rightful place in our collective past.
Douglas Biklen closely examines the experiences of six families in which children with disabilities are full participants in family life in order to understand how people who have been labeled disabled might become full participants in the other areas of society as well. He focuses on the contradictions between what some families have achieved, what they want for their children, and what society and its social policies allow. He demonstrates how the principles of inclusion that govern the lives of these families can be extended to education, community life, and other social institutions.
The parents who tell their stories here have actively sought inclusion of their children in regular schools and community settings; several have children with severe or multiple disabilities. In discussing issues such as normalization, acceptance, complete schooling, circles of friends, and community integration, these parents describe the challenge and necessity of their children's "leading regular lives."
Despite their twin positions as two of North America’s most iconic Italian neighborhoods, South Philly and Toronto’s Little Italy have functioned in dramatically different ways since World War II. Inviting readers into the churches, homes, and businesses at the heart of these communities, Staying Italian reveals that daily experience in each enclave created two distinct, yet still Italian, ethnicities.
As Philadelphia struggled with deindustrialization, Jordan Stanger-Ross shows, Italian ethnicity in South Philly remained closely linked with preserving turf and marking boundaries. Toronto’s thriving Little Italy, on the other hand, drew Italians together from across the wider region. These distinctive ethnic enclaves, Stanger-Ross argues, were shaped by each city’s response to suburbanization, segregation, and economic restructuring. By situating malleable ethnic bonds in the context of political economy and racial dynamics, he offers a fresh perspective on the potential of local environments to shape individual identities and social experience.
Mining in North America has long been criticized for its impact on the natural environment. Mica Jorgenson’s The Weight of Gold explores the history of Ontario, Canada’s rise to prominence in the gold mining industry, while detailing a series of environmental crises related to extraction activities. In Ontario in 1909, the discovery of exceptionally rich hard rock gold deposits in the Abitibi region in the north precipitated industrial development modeled on precedents in Australia, South Africa, and the United States. By the late 1920s, Ontario’s mines had reached their maturity, and in 1928, Minister of Mines Charles McRae called Canada “the mineral treasure house to [the] world.”
Mining companies increasingly depended upon their ability to redistribute the burdens of mining onto surrounding communities—a strategy they continue to use today—both at home and abroad. Jorgenson connects Canadian gold mining to its international context, revealing that Ontario’s gold mines informed extractive knowledge which would go on to shape Canada’s mining industry over the next century.
Because autism is an increasingly common diagnosis, North Americans are familiar with its symptoms and treatments. But what we know and think about autism is shaped by our social relationship to health, disease, and the medical system. In The Western Disease Claire Laurier Decoteau explores the ways that recent immigrants from Somalia to Canada and the US make sense of their children’s diagnosis of autism. Having never heard of autism before migrating to North America, they often determine that it must be a Western disease. Given its apparent absence in Somalia, they view it as Western in nature, caused by environmental and health conditions unique to life in North America.
Following Somali parents as they struggle to make sense of their children's illness and advocate for alternative care, Decoteau unfolds how complex interacting factors of immigration, race, and class affect Somalis’ relationship to the disease. Somalis’ engagement with autism challenges the prevailing presumption among Western doctors that their approach to healing is universal. Decoteau argues that centering an analysis on autism within the Somali diaspora exposes how autism has been defined and institutionalized as a white, middle-class disorder, leading to health disparities based on race, class, age, and ability. The Western Disease asks us to consider the social causes of disease and the role environmental changes and structural inequalities play in health vulnerability.
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