Picture of Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson PhD History

Assistant Professor

Faculty Member in History

Arts 822

Research Area(s)

  • Environmental History
  • Energy History
  • Canadian History
  • Sustainability
  • Agroecosystems
  • Commodities


Canadian history Great Plains Muskoka Ontario Trading Consequences agriculture agroecosystems digital history energy environmental history history social metabolism sustainability

Peer-reviewed Publications:

Andrew Watson. “'The Single Most Important Factor": Fossil Fuel Energy, Groundwater, and Irrigation on the High Plains, 1955–1985.” Agricultural History, Vol.94, No.4 (Fall 2020), 629-633.

J. Marull, C. Cattaneo, S. Gingrich, M. González de Molina, G.I. Guzmán, A. Watson, J. MacFadyen, M. Pons, E. Tello. "Comparative Energy-Landscape Integrated Analysis (ELIA) of past and present agroecosystems in North America and Europe from the 1830s to the 2010s." Agricultural Systems, Vol.175 (October 2019), 46-57.

J. MacFadyen and A. Watson. “Woodland Agroecosystem Energy Profiles: Prince Edward Island, Canada: 1870-2010.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 18, No.4 (2018), 1033-1045.

S. Gingrich, I. Marco, E. Aguilera, R. Padró, C. Cattaneo, G. Cunfer, G. Guzman, J. MacFadyen, A. Watson. “Agroecosystem energy transitions in the old and new worlds: trajectories and determinants at the regional scale.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol.18, No.4 (2018), 1089-1101.

G. Cunfer, A. Watson, J. MacFadyen. “Profiles of an Agricultural Frontier: The American Great Plains, 1850-2000.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 18, No.4 (2018), 1021-1032.

Andrew Watson. “Pioneering a Rural Identity on the Canadian Shield: Tourism, Household Economies, and Poor Soils in Muskoka, Ontario, 1870-1900.” Canadian Historical Review, Vol.98, No.2 (June 2017), 261-293.

Andrew Watson. “Coal in Canada.” In Powering Up Canada: A History of Power, Fuel, and Energy from 1600, edited by R.W. Sandwell. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), 213-250.

Andrew Watson. “Mobility and Sustainability: Lakeside Supply Networks in the Age of Steamboat Navigation, Muskoka, Ontario, 1880-1930.” In Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History, edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin Coates. (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016), 79-102.

Jim Clifford, Beatrice Alex, Colin M. Coates, Ewan Klein, Andrew Watson. “Geoparsing History: Locating Commodities in Ten Million Pages of Nineteenth-Century Sources.” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Vol.43, Issue.3 (2016), 115-131.

Uta Hinrichs, Beatrice Alex, Jim Clifford, Andrew, Watson, Aaron Quigley, Ewan Klein, Colin M. Coates. “Trading Consequences: A Case Study of Combining Text Mining and Visualization to Facilitate Document Exploration.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol. 30, Issue Supplement 1 (December 2015), i50-i75.


Canada Muskoka agriculture agroecosystems coal commodities energy environmental history farm systems history irrigation leather social metabolism sustainability

I am currently working on three projects. The first is a book that explores the ways that the environmental realities of the Canadian Shield shaped the rural identity of Muskoka, Ontario during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I examine the transformation of Muskoka from a strictly Indigenous place into a settler colonial society and the rise of tourism, and assess the ways that social, economic, and environmental changes shaped sustainability and rural identity in the past. I am also working on a new project on the history of coal in Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. This work examines the ways that efforts to connect sites of production with sites of consumption shaped communities, economies, and environments in both rural and urban Canada, as well as how coal pulled Canada into an industrialized and globalized North Atlantic world. Finally, I am engaged in research with the Sustainable Farm Systems project, which explores the socioecological transition in agriculture, from traditional, organic practices at the end of the nineteenth century to modern, industrialized processes by the end of the twentieth century. My work on this project involves tracing the flow of energy through agroecosystems on the Great Plains of the United States, and in particular the role of fossil fuel energy in groundwater irrigation on the High Plains.

Education & Training

PhD, History, York University

MA, History, Queen's University

BA(Honours), History, Queen's University