My research employs ordinary commodities to reveal the social and environmental impact of modern agriculture. My latest project examines the history of biomass energy in rural Canada, and I have also written about sodbusting and soil treatment on Canadian farms. This section of the website provides summaries of some of the work I do with:



In addition to the research published in my blogs and the items above, some of my print publications are available here:

Hewers of Wood

Hewers of Wood

Joshua MacFadyen, “Hewers of Wood: A History of Wood Energy in Canada,” in Ruth Sandwell ed., Powering Up: The History of Fuel, Power and Energy in Canada, 1800-2015 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press), 129-161. Publisher website.





The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent

Joshua MacFadyen, “The Fertile Crescent: Agricultural Land Use on Prince Edward Island, 1861-1971,” in Edward MacDonald, Joshua MacFadyen, and Irene Novaczek, eds., Time and a Place: An Environmental History of Prince Edward Island, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), 195-217. Publisher website.




Joshua MacFadyen, “Spinning flax in mills, households, and the Canadian state, 1850-1870,” in James Murton, Dean Bavington, and Carly Dokis, eds., Subsistence Under Capitalism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), 76-102. Publisher website.

Top-Down History

Top-Down History [pdf]

Joshua MacFadyen and William Glen, “Top-down history: Delimiting forests, farms, and the Agricultural Census on Prince Edward Island using Aerial Photography, c.1900-2000,” in Jennifer Bonnell and Marcel Fortin eds., Historical GIS Research in Canada (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, Canadian History & Environment Series, 2014), 197-223.




Drawing Lines in the Ice

Drawing Lines in the Ice [pdf]

Joshua MacFadyen, “Drawing Lines in the Ice: Regulating Mussel Mud Digging in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence,” in Claire Campbell and Robert Summerby-Murray eds., Land and Sea: Environmental Histories of Atlantic Canada (Fredericton: Acadiensis, 2013), 99-119.





Time Flies, Poster

Time Flies, Poster [pdf]

Joshua MacFadyen and Alan MacEachern, “Time Flies: Aerial Photography and Landscape Change in Prince Edward Island, 1935-2010,” American Society for Environmental History meeting, Toronto, ON, April 2013 [Awarded the Best Poster].





Breaking Sod or Breaking Even

Breaking Sod or Breaking Even [pdf]

Joshua MacFadyen, “Breaking Sod or Breaking Even? Flax on the Northern Great Plains and Prairies, 1889-1930″ Agricultural History 83 no. 2 (Spring 2009): 221-246.

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