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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Awful Splendour

A Fire History of Canada

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. The choices Canadians have made says a great deal about their national character. Awful Splendour narrates the history of this grand saga. It will interest geographers, historians, and members of the fire community.

Table of Contents

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


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