Industrial Heritage Conservation as Resistance: Environmental History and Post-Industrial Landscapes

by Peter Kitay

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This paper explores the relationship between Environmental History and industrial heritage conservation by examining the role of industrial heritage conservation in a rapidly urbanizing community in Aylmer, Quebec. This paper argues that, while the Deschênes Rapids site in Aylmer, Quebec shares qualities befitting a an “evolved cultural landscape”, it is also of particular interest because the local community has positioned the heritage value of the site and surrounding landscape as justification against rampant urban growth in Aylmer, Quebec. Seen through the lens of Environmental History, the Deschênes Rapids site therefore not only exemplifies physical evolution of a hydrological post-industrial landscape; it is also evidence of changing perceptions and valuations of historical, industrial landscapes themselves. In this case, an industrial heritage site and the surrounding landscape is used strategically as means of resisting the pressures of urban growth which is characterized as a disruptive, undesirable and invasive process.


Environmental History; Industrial Heritage; Post-Industrial Landscape; Resistance


Peter Kitay is a secondary school teacher, father of two young children, and a recent graduate from the Master of Arts, Canadian Studies Program at Carleton University. His current academic interests are focused on Environmental History in Canada, which formed the basis for his major research essay the relationship between Treaty No. 9 and industrial development around Lake Abitibi in northeastern Ontario in the early 20th century.  He hopes to continue researching, writing, and discussing Environmental History in both the Canadian and international context in the future.