Average Beasts and Where to Find Them: Livestock and Land Use in Atlantic Canada's Rural Energy Transition

Josh MacFadyen, University of Prince Edward Island

Historians often point to large scale energy transitions as evidence of societal changes at national and global scales. For instance, the moment that Western European nations made the transition from wood to fossil fuels is also considered the moment they moved from traditional agrarian to urban industrial societies. However, agriculture itself changed and became more productive for decades without many direct inputs from fossil fuels, and in places like Atlantic Canada, the transition was so recent that we can examine it through relatively robust quantitative records and spatially explicit models in geographic information systems (GIS). One explanation for the slow transition in the Atlantic region is the path dependency created by livestock and associated land uses and the absence of urban manufacturing centres. Recent research suggests that Atlantic Canadian farms remained complex traditional energy systems well into the late twentieth century, and this paper will consider the geographic locations and historical functions of one of the most important, and relatively overlooked, bio-converters in rural Canada -- livestock.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 137. Commodity data is messy: Issues in commodity production and quantification