The McLean Series in Canadian Studies

The McLean Series in Canadian Studies is published by UBC Press; each work in this series is based on the Brenda and David McLean Lectures in Canadian Studies.

Generously endowed by University benefactors Brenda and David McLean, the Chair is occupied by a distinguished Canadianist for a period of two years. The McLean Chair teaches the Senior Seminar in Canadian Studies (CDST 450), and, in the second year of tenure, gives the McLean Lectures in Canadian Studies. These lectures are published by UBC Press in the McLean Series in Canadian Studies. The first volume in this series, Borderlands, by W. H. New, was issued in 1998; it was followed by Citizens Plus (2000), by Alan C. Cairns; Making Native Space (2002), by Cole Harris; Globalization and Well-Being (2002), by John F. Helliwell;  Do Glaciers Listen? Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination (2005), by Julie Cruikshank; On The Art Of Being Canadian (2009), by Sherrill Grace;  Big Tent Politics (2015), by Kenneth Carty; Move by the State: Forced Relocation and Making a Good Life in Postwar Canada (2019), by Tina Loo, and The Bomb in the Wilderness: Photography and the Nuclear Era in Canada (2020) by John O’Brian.

Published to date

Borderlands: How We Speak About Canada, by William H. New

Border lines have long affected how Canadians look at themselves and talk about their society. One commentator has even said that Canada is “unthinkable” without a sense of its northern limits, its oceanic rims, and the symbolic geography of the 49th parallel. Yet borders—and the border lands they evoke—are fragile, permeable structures, not so much fixed edges as claims upon difference and metaphors of confrontation and change.

Citizens Plus, by Alan C. Cairns

We are in the midst of a fundamental reevaluation of the desired relation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to each other, and of how the former are to be institutionally and constitutionally accommodated within Canada. Words matter. How we think about where we are and about the future goal of our relationship can confine us in an intellectual prison or liberate us from choices we will otherwise regret.



Making Native Space, by Cole Harris

Making Native Space is about the drawing of the most fundamental line on the map of British Columbia, the one separating the tiny fraction of the province set aside for Native peoples from the rest, opened for development. The patches of land created amid the emerging settler society came to be known as Indian reserves.

The process by which the line was drawn was neither simple nor pre-determined. It was the product of many contending voices with little more in common than the colonial system within which they were variously positioned. Making Native Space tracks these voices and plots their geographical effects to provide a history of the reserve system in British Columbia. It begins in the Colonial Office in the 1830s and then follows Native land policy—and Native resistance to it—in British Columbia from the Douglas treaties in the early 1850s to the formal transfer of reserves to the Dominion in 1938.

Cole Harris considers the implications of this disposession of land for Native lives and livelihoods. The reserves were too small to support Native peoples, who became trespassers on many of their former lands. The reserve system, and the marginalization associated with it, opened space for settlers and capital, but very nearly wiped out the Native peoples of British Columbia.

In a final chapter, Harris considers how a postcolonial British Columbia might be achieved. Elegantly written and insightful, this book clarifies and informs the current debate about the Native land question. Geographers, historians, anthropologists, all those interested in and involved in the politics of treaty negotiation in British Columbia, from lawyers and government officials to Native peoples themselves, as well as thoughtful residents of the province, should read this book.

Globalization and Well-Being, by John F. Helliwell

Researchers and policy-makers are taking a new look at public policies to find broader grounds for assessing their economic and social impacts on individuals, families, communities, and nations. This book introduces this new research on social capital and well-being and applies it to key issues facing individuals and governments in the age of globalization.

John Helliwell first looks at the latest evidence about the extent to which globalization has altered the scope and salience of nation-states. He then deals with the implications for both domestic and international policies. Throughout the book, the author emphasizes well-being as an explicit focus for research and for public policies. He argues that, whatever one thinks of globalization, there is ample scope for countries like Canada to not only retain their distinctive qualities but also to have independent national and international policies.

Globalization and Well-Being is essential reading for all those trying to think their way through the welter of conflicting assertions about what is left for national policies in today’s world. It will be of special interest to those thinking about whether Canada should focus on its North American linkages or on building bridges to the broader international community.

Do Glaciers Listen?, by Julie Cruikshank

Do Glaciers Listen? explores the conflicting depictions of glaciers to show how natural and cultural histories are objectively entangled in the Mount Saint Elias ranges. This rugged area, where Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory now meet, underwent significant geophysical change in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which coincided with dramatic social upheaval resulting from European exploration and increased travel and trade among Aboriginal peoples.

European visitors brought with them varying conceptions of nature as sublime, as spiritual, or as a resource for human progress. They saw glaciers as inanimate, subject to empirical investigation and measurement. Aboriginal oral histories, conversely, described glaciers as sentient, animate, and quick to respond to human behaviour. In each case, however, the experiences and ideas surrounding glaciers were incorporated into interpretations of social relations.

Focusing on these contrasting views during the late stages of the Little Ice Age (1550-1900), Cruikshank demonstrates how local knowledge is produced, rather than discovered, through colonial encounters, and how it often conjoins social and biophysical processes. She then traces how the divergent views weave through contemporary debates about cultural meanings as well as current discussions about protected areas, parks, and the new World Heritage site. Readers interested in anthropology and Native and northern studies will find this a fascinating read and a rich addition to circumpolar literature.


On the Art of Being Canadian, by Sherrill Grace

When Vincent Massey, Canada’s first native-born governor general, wrote On Being Canadian in 1948, he acknowledged the importance of the arts to education and the production of good Canadian citizens. What he did not consider was what the arts and artists can tell us about being Canadian or about being ourselves.

In On the Art of Being Canadian Sherrill Grace begins with the premise that the arts have shaped and continue to inform Canadian identity. Drawing upon a wealth of artistic expression that spans over a century of painting, fiction, poetry, drama, and film, she then traces how the arts and artists have contributed to three fields of representation, or themes, that are staples in Canadian culture, commemoration, and myth making – the North, war, and iconic national figures such as Louis Riel, Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and Mina Hubbard.

By telling stories in their chosen medium and genre about life here or about events and figures from the past, she shows that artists help us to understand the Canadian landscape and to create a shared history. All students of Canada, whether at home or abroad, will find much to savour, enjoy, and reflect on in this beautifully illustrated volume.


Big Tent Politics,  by Ken Carty

The Liberal Party of Canada is one of the most successful parties in the democratic world. It dominated Canadian politics for a century, practising an inclusive style of “big tent” politics that allowed it to fend off opponents on both the left and right. How did it do this? What kind of party organization did it build over the decades to manage its remarkable string of election victories? And has its long mastery of Canadian politics finally come to an end? 

This book traces the record of the party over the twentieth century, revealing the cyclical character of its success and charting its capacity to respond to change. It also unwraps Liberal practices and organization to reveal the party’s distinctive “brokerage” approach to politics as well as a franchise-style structure that tied local grassroots supporters to the national leadership. These were key elements of the winning formula that drew Canadians of all political stripes to the Liberal Party over the years. 

Ken Carty provides a carefully considered analysis of how one party came to lead the nation’s public life. In a country riven by difference, the Liberals’ enduring political success was an extraordinary feat. But as Carty reflects, given the party’s latest travails, will it be able to reinvent itself, yet again, for the twenty-first century.


Moved by the State: Forced Relocation and Making a Good Life in Postwar Canada, by Tina Loo

Why don’t they just move?” This reductive question is asked whenever reports surface of the all-too-common lack of social services and economic opportunities in Canada’s rural and urban communities. But why are certain people and places vulnerable? Who is responsible for remedying the situation? And what is fair?

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Canadian government relocated people, often against their will, in order to improve their lives. Moved by the State offers a completely new interpretation of this undertaking, seeing it as part of a larger project of economic development and poverty alleviation. This finely crafted history therefore focuses on the bureaucrats and academics who designed, implemented, and monitored the forced relocations, rather than on the experience of those who were uprooted.

Tina Loo explores the contradiction between intention and consequence as resettlement played out among Inuit in the central Arctic, fishing families in Newfoundland’s outports, farmers and loggers in Quebec’s Gaspé region, Black residents of Halifax’s Africville, and Chinese Canadians in Vancouver’s East Side. In the process, she reveals the optimistic belief underpinning postwar relocations: the power of the interventionist state to do good.

This book invites the attention of scholars and students of Canadian social and political history, and will also appeal to general readers interested in postwar Canada, the welfare state, and community, regional, and international development.


The Bomb in the Wilderness: Photography and the Nuclear Era in Canada, by John O’Brian

Photographs provide a link between the nuclear past and present, and they play a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of nuclear events. What can they reveal about Canada’s nuclear footprint?

The Bomb in the Wilderness contends that photography is one of the principal ways, if not the primary way, that Canadians have represented, interpreted, and remembered nuclear activities since 1945. During the Second World War, Canada was a member of the Manhattan Project, the consortium that developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The impact of Canada’s nuclear programs has been felt ever since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the reach of those programs – its nuclear footprint – has been global.

John O’Brian puts nuclear risk at the centre of his deeply informed inquiry. Do photographs alert viewers to nuclear threat, numb them to its dangers, or by some strange calculus accomplish both? This wide-ranging and personal account of the nuclear era presents and discusses more than a hundred photographs, ranging from military images to the atomic ephemera of consumer culture. We need this fascinating analysis, to ensure that we do not look away.

This book will have broad appeal, speaking not only to scholars of art history and photography, the Cold War, and the nuclear era, but also to other readers interested in these topics.