Hydroelectrification and the (Re)production of Power in Ontario 1902-1912

Authors: Andrew Schuldt*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Energy
Keywords: electrification, capitalism, power, hydroelectricity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Ontario’s “public power movement” was led by a coalition of business people and government officials that had the goal of distributing renewable hydroelectric power – a “gift of nature” often referred to as “white coal” - to the people. Out of this movement emerged the world’s first public utility, industrial and economic growth, and a model for development. At the same time, electrification also remade the biophysical environment and played a role in treaty negotiations. By interrogating the public power movement, this paper examines this project of state-making and its entanglement with racial, patriarchal, and colonial capitalism despite its use of sustainable technologies.

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