Awful Splendour

A Fire History of Canada

Stephen J. Pyne

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  • $94.00x hardcover (9780774813914) Add to Cart
  • Published: 2007
  • Subject Listing: Environmental Studies, Geography, Canadian History
  • Bibliographic information: 584 pp., 61 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: Usa Only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Fire is a defining element in Canadian land and life. With few exceptions, Canada's forests and prairies have evolved with fire. Its peoples have exploited fire and sought to protect themselves from its excesses, and since Confederation, the country has devised various institutions to connect fire and society. Awful Splendour narrates the history of this grand saga.

The story has three parts. "Torch" sketches the historical geography of fire from the retreat of the ice sheets to the advent of agriculture, with human control limited to ignition. "Axe" focuses on the era of European colonizatioin and describes what happens when people create new fuels through cutting. "Engine" traces the impact of industrialization. This section tells the story of institutions and events, province by province, and for the federal government, era by era, through the early 1980s. An Epilogue summarizes recent developments.

Fire remains a vital presence in the boreal environment. How Canadians have chosen to relate to it says a great deal about their national character. The book will interest geographers, historians, and members of the fire community.
Stephen J. Pyne is one of the world's foremost chroniclers of the cultural and environmental history of fire. He is the author of the Cycle of Fire, a suite of books examining the history of fire around the world. He is a Regents' Professor in the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University.

Foreword: Mon pays c'est le feu / Graeme Wynn

Author's Note: A Boreal Burning Bush

Prologue: White Canada

Book 1: Torch


Fire Rings of Indigenous Canada
Fire and Frost: Tundra
Fire and Water: Boreal Forest
Fire and Grass, Fire and Leaf: Great Plains Prairies and Great Lakes Forests
Fire on the Hills, Fire on the Mountains: Acadian Woods and Cordilleran Forests
Fire and Fog: The Incombustible Fringe

Tongues of Fire: Black Spruce and High Plains

Conflagration and Complex

Book 2: Axe

Creating Fuel

Fire Frontiers of Imperial Canada
New Found Land
The Canadas
Far Countries

With Fire in Their Eyes: Gabriel Sagard and Henry Hind

"Burning Most Furiously"

Book 3: Engine

Containing Combustion

Reconnaissance by Fire: Robert Bell and Bernhard Fernow/ xxx

Fire Provinces of Industrial Canada
Dominion of Fire: Canada's Quest for Fire Conservancy
Sea and Shield: Fire Provinces of Eastern Canada
Fire's Lesser Dominion
Tracer Index: James G. Wright and Herbert B. Beall
Plain and Mountain: Fire Provinces of Western Canada
Prosperity and Peril
Two Solitudes: C.E. Van Wagner and Donald Stedman
Revanchism and Federalism
Fire's Outer Limits: Fire Provinces on the Fringe

Internal Combustions

Epilogue: Green Canada

Continental Drift and Global Warming

Fire Geography of Green Canada
Fire's Reconfederation
Settlement Symmetries, Then and Now
Counting Carbon
Virtual Fire

Slow Burns, Fast Flames

Fire and Ice

Bibliographic Essay