The freeholding pioneer is a powerful image in settlement history; Tenants in Time tells a different story.
Tenancy, though relegated to the periphery by the liberal idealization of ownership, was a common and vital part of the economy and society. Against a background of international land agitation, and using an inter-disciplinary approach, Dr. Wilson looks at life as a tenant farmer, providing new insights into family strategies, land markets and the growth of liberalism. Using evidence from across Upper Canada, she shows how tenancy transformed the landscape and tied old and new settlers together in a continuum of mutual dependence that was essential to settlement, capital creation and social mobility. Dr. Wilson's analysis of customary rights reveals a landlord-tenant relationship - and a concept of onwership - more complex and flexible than previously understood. Landlords, from ordinary farmers to absentee aritocrats, are also part of the story and the much-criticized clergy reserves take a positive role. An intimate exploration of Cramahe Township follows tenants over the generations as they supported their families and combined liberal ideas with household-centered ways.
From aggregate statistics to individual human dramas, Tenants in Time unravels the life of the tenant farmer in a richly documented, innovative and compelling argument.
Tenants in Time has won another prize: the 2008 Floyd S. Chalmers Award in Ontario History awarded by the Champlain Society. It has previously won two others, the Canadian Historical Association's CLIO Award for Regional History, and the Ontario Historical Society's J. J. Talman Award, which is awarded only every three years.
Catharine Anne Wilson grew up in the Ottawa Valley. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Guelph and did graduate degrees at Queen's. Since 1989, Dr. Wilson has been teaching Canadian History in the Department of History at the University of Guelph.
Her interest in rural Ontario began when she participated in the Huron County Oral History Project, shifted to Irish immigration and now focuses on family strategies in rural 19th century Ontario. Currently she is working on a book on work bees and an article on plowing matches. Dr. Wilson married a Guelph graduate and has two children.