Wet Prairie: People, Land, and Water in Agricultural Manitoba by Shannon Stunden BowerWet Prairie: People, Land, and Water in Agricultural Manitoba by Shannon Stunden Bower

Wet Prairie: People, Land, and Water in Agricultural Manitoba

byShannon Stunden Bower

Paperback | January 1, 2012

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The Canadian prairies are often envisioned as dry, windswept fields; however, much of southern Manitoba is not arid plain but wet prairie, poorly drained land subject to frequent flooding.

Wet Prairie brings to light the problems and complexities of surface water management in Manitoba, from early efforts to drain the landscape to late-twentieth-century attempts to establish watershed management. Irregular water-flow patterns challenged the checkerboard landscape of the 1872 federal Dominion Lands Act, and homesteaders found their agricultural ambitions at odds with local environmental realities. Thus, in keeping with liberal principles, the provincial government undertook substantial drainage efforts. Flooding and drainage became the subjects of intense and persistent debate among provincial officials, drainage experts, and Manitoba residents. New alliances and rivalries emerged amid shifting social, political and environmental contexts, affecting how Manitobans related to each other and to the provincial state. All of this has had enduring consequences for both the landscapes and people of the wet prairie.

This account of an overlooked aspect of Prairie environmental history traces how the biophysical nature of southern Manitoba was an important factor in the formation of Manitoba society and the provincial state.

Shannon Stunden Bower is the research director for the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.
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Title:Wet Prairie: People, Land, and Water in Agricultural ManitobaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.03 × 6.03 × 0.65 inPublished:January 1, 2012Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774818530

ISBN - 13:9780774818537

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Reviews

Table of Contents

Foreword: Wetland Elegy? / Graeme Wynn

Introduction: The Wet Prairie

1 Drains and Cultural Communities: The Early Years of Manitoba Drainage, 1870-1915

2 Jurisdictional Quagmires: Dominion Authority and Prairie Wetlands, 1870-1930

3 Drains and Geographical Communities: Experts, Highlanders, and Lowlanders Assess Drainage

4 International Bioregions and Local Momentum: The International Joint Commission, Ducks Unlimited, and Continued Drainage

5 Permanence, Maintenance, and Change: Watershed Management in Manitoba

Conclusion: Chequer Board Squares in a Dynamic Landscape

Appendices

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

The Canadian prairies are often envisioned as dry, windswept fields; however, much of southern Manitoba is not arid plain but wet prairie, poorly drained land subject to frequent flooding. Shannon Stunden Bower brings to light the complexities of surface-water management in Manitoba, from early artificial drainage efforts to late-twentieth-century attempts at watershed management. She engages scholarship on the state, liberalism, and bioregionalism in order to probe the connections between human and environmental change in the wet prairie. This account of an overlooked aspect of the region’s environmental history reveals how the biophysical nature of southern Manitoba has been an important factor in the formation of Manitoba society and the provincial state.The work represents environmental history at its best ... As Canadian history, it further illuminates the federal-provincial contest over natural resources in the west, arguing that the political jurisdictional battle had real consequences on Manitoba’s wet agricultural landscape, even as wetlands forced the various levels of government to adjust their relationships with one another. Drainage, to many, seems rather uninteresting; Stunden Bower shows how important it really is, even to people who live far from the Red River. - Geoff Cunfer, Department of History, University of Saskatchewan