Lake Ontario – From Military Fortifications to Recreational Fishing

In the past few weeks, our class did readings on and talked about the history of the Great Lakes. In terms of fresh water in Canadian history, the Great Lakes Public Forum briefed us on strategies for the assessment, restoration, and protection of the lakes, which had to meet the commitments stated by the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Meanwhile, the indigenous history of Toronto was touched upon with the First Story blog. Environmental inequality and its history were highlighted in the Bonnell and Cruikshank readings, and, finally, the political geography of Quebec was examined, and such an examination encompassed the histories of hydroelectric development and the Francophones’ relationship with the Cree.

To add to this wide range of topics, I propose to do research on the military history of Lake Ontario by highlighting the construction and the significance of the specific locations of forts George, Mississauga, York, and Henry; all of which are along Canadian territory today. Fort York, for example, is interesting because it not only guards the entrance to Toronto Bay, but it is also a defensible location as it is surrounded by water on two sides, giving one a “commanding view of the lake and the surrounding lands.”1 This may have had an effect on the defense of Upper Canada land from the United States in the 18th to 19th century. Fort George, another example, is interesting because of its involvement in the War of 1812. Fort Mississauga, built to replace Fort George, may be as equally as interesting.

Another topic of equal interest is the history of fishing in Lake Ontario. For this topic, I propose to do research that covers the evolution/change in fishing maps, the economic value of fisheries, and the management of the biological resources – namely fish. This topic may also include citizen recollections of fishing trips to Lake Ontario. These citizen histories may be collected from University of Toronto students or Waterkeeper’s own archive. In addition, I think this would be an interesting addition to the website we will be building, as these citizen histories may be presented in a dynamic way using javascript.

I look forward to hearing other topic ideas in class today.

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