The Irish in Ontario: A Study in Rural History

Paperback | June 1, 1999

byDonald Harman Akenson

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Akenson argues that, despite the popular conception of the Irish as a city people, those who settled in Ontario were primarily rural and small-town dwellers. Though it is often claimed that the experience of the Irish in their homeland precluded their successful settlement on the frontier in North America, Akenson's research proves that the Irish migrants to Ontario not only chose to live chiefly in the hinterlands, but that they did so with marked success. Akenson also suggests that by using Ontario as an "historical laboratory" it is possible to make valid assessments of the real differences between Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, characteristics which he contends are much more precisely measurable in the neutral environment of central Canada than in the turbulent Irish homeland. While Akenson is careful not to over-generalize his findings, he contends that the case of Ontario seriously calls into question conventional beliefs about the cultural limitations of the Irish Catholics not only in Canada but throughout North America.

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From Our Editors

The Social Sciences Federation of Canada lauded this as one of the most significant studies in the last half-century. The Irish formed the largest non-French ethnic group in central Canada for most of the 19th century, especially in Ontario. The Irish in Ontario is a detailed analysis of Irish settlement in the Leeds and Lansdowne town...

From the Publisher

Akenson argues that, despite the popular conception of the Irish as a city people, those who settled in Ontario were primarily rural and small-town dwellers. Though it is often claimed that the experience of the Irish in their homeland precluded their successful settlement on the frontier in North America, Akenson's research proves th...

Donald Harman Akenson is Douglas Professor of Canadian and Colonial History, Queen's University, the world's leading scholar on the Irish diaspora, and the author of several major works on the history of Judaism and Christianity.

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Paperback|Jul 9 2001

$29.32 online$32.95list price(save 11%)
see all books by Donald Harman Akenson
Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.27 inPublished:June 1, 1999Publisher:McGill-Queen's University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0773520295

ISBN - 13:9780773520295

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lively and insightful I stumbled across this (paperback edition)in the middle of a large research project. That, plus my Irish and (my father's) farming background, made me interested enough to buy it. I liked his lively writing. He's clear and forceful, despite a lot of detailed information and the need to be precise. I also liked his info, although there's so much of it, it's hard to hold onto-but one point I remember well is his explanation of where our "separate school system" came from--Ireland and its theological (as opposed to economic) basis for schooling. It's wonderful how he "slags" every other historian in sight--this gives one a real insight into the biases and other imperfections in the historical method. I also liked his detailed notes with a huge bibliography--very helpful to one looking for more info. Two caveats--he really uses too many "big' words, even for this ex-English Composition teacher. ("Perdure"-oh come on!). More important, the charts aren't clear enuff in this edition--probably much better in the hardcover edition.
Date published: 2000-02-18

Extra Content

From Our Editors

The Social Sciences Federation of Canada lauded this as one of the most significant studies in the last half-century. The Irish formed the largest non-French ethnic group in central Canada for most of the 19th century, especially in Ontario. The Irish in Ontario is a detailed analysis of Irish settlement in the Leeds and Lansdowne townships. Donald Harman Akenson contends that in contrast to the popular view of the immigrant Irish as city-folk, those who settled in Ontario were chiefly rural and small town dwellers who chose to live in the hinterlands -- and did so with considerable success.

Editorial Reviews

If the Irish Ran the World deals with an important topic and a little-studied island. It is especially valuable in allowing us a glimpse at a highly unstable world where ethnicity was important but was defined in very fluid ways. Akenson's work is also important in providing much fresh information about a far-flung area of empire. Trevor Burnard, Department of History, University of Canterbury, New Zealand