Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Gateways, inland seas, or boundary waters? Historical conceptions of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River since the 19th century

Buy Article:

$52.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

Since the late 19th century, historians, geographers, and other scholars have conceived of the St. Lawrence River as a gateway that provided the basis for an east‐west transcontinental nation. Although the Great Lakes initially were incorporated into the national histories of the United States and Canada, increasingly they came to represent boundary waters that transcended political borders. Environmental issues encouraged a few writers to think more about how the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence might be thought about together, as sharing waters and a history. This article examines the narratives that historians, geographers, and other scholars have constructed about the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River from the late 19th through the early 21st centuries. These two prominent geographic features have been connected to national histories, although often in quite distinctive and independent ways. For many scholars, the St. Lawrence represented the east‐west gateway that opened the continent to European civilization and provided the basis for a transcontinental Canadian nation. Later, in the hands of some Quebec authors, the river represented an inland sea that shaped the development of a distinctive nation on its shores. In spite of some efforts to incorporate the Great Lakes into each of the national histories of the United States and Canada, 20th‐century writers increasingly saw them as boundary waters that transcended political borders, connecting two economies and societies. As scholars sought to incorporate environmental issues, they focused on a Great Lakes bi‐national story and emphasized a shared ecological experience. Only in the 21st century have these environmental issues encouraged a few writers to try to overcome the weight of previous works, and think about the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence as sharing waters, and a history. Cet article traite des récits sur les Grands Lacs et le fleuve Saint‐Laurent construits par les historiens, géographes et autres chercheurs entre la fin du 19e siècle et le début du 21e siècle. Des histoires nationales ont été rattachées à ces deux entités géographiques d'importance, mais souvent de manière distincte et indépendante. Pour de nombreux chercheurs, le Saint‐Laurent faisait figure de porte d'entrée est‐ouest par laquelle la civilisation européenne s'est propagée sur tout le continent et une nation canadienne transcontinentale a pris forme. Plus tard, quelques écrivains québécois ont décrit le fleuve comme une mer intérieure qui a contribué à l'essor d'une nation distincte sur ses rives. En dépit des travaux visant l'intégration des Grands Lacs dans l'histoire nationale des États‐Unis et de celle du Canada, les écrivains les ont imaginés progressivement, tout au long du 20e siècle, comme des eaux limitrophes qui transcendent les frontières politiques et relient deux économies et sociétés. Alors que les chercheurs aspiraient à traiter des enjeux environnementaux, ils ont fait valoir une histoire binationale des Grands Lacs et fait ressortir l'importance de l'expérience écologique partagée. C'est seulement à partir du 21e siècle que ces enjeux environnementaux ont convaincu quelques auteurs du bien‐fondé de surmonter l'influence des travaux antérieurs et de considérer que les Grands Lacs et le Saint‐Laurent partagent les mêmes eaux et une histoire commune.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Grands Lacs; Great Lakes; Saint‐Laurent; St. Lawrence; continentalism; continentalisme; historiographie; historiography; nationalism; nationalisme

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2016

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more