« Something more than a newsletter »: nearly fifty years of Canadian urban history

December 14, 2020

The cover of UHR’s most recent publication, 2020

Written by guest bloggers Harold Bérubé and Owen Temby.

Fifty years ago, in late 1970, a small group of academics interested in the history of Canadian cities met in the Faculty Club of Carleton University to discuss the formation of an Urban Group that would facilitate exchanges between researchers from a variety of fields, universities, and regions of the country. The group included John H. Taylor, Gilbert A. Stelter, Del Muise, Maurice Careless, Frederick H. Armstrong, and Paul-André Linteau. They quickly decided that their group would need some sort of newsletter. As John H. Taylor wrote in the preface of the first issue of what would become the Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine (UHR / RHU), they hoped that this new publication would be “something more than a newsletter”.

The cover of UHR’s first issue, published in 1972.

A little less than two years later, the first issue of the UHR / RHU came out, typed and stapled, edited by Taylor and Muise, published by the National Museum of Man, and sold for the price of fifty cents. Counting a total of 23 pages, it offered its readers four articles, including overviews of the state and prospects of the field in Quebec and Canada by Linteau and Armstrong. It was one of the first, if not the first, North American academic journals in urban history and it remains the oldest still in operation.

In the following years, the headquarters of the journal would move around a lot, often following its new editor. Therefore, in 1983, the UHR / RHU moved from the National Museum of Man to the Institute of Urban Studies of the University of Winnipeg, following its editor Alan F. J. Artibise. In 1988, when John Weaver took over as editor of the journal, it left the University of Winnipeg for the City of Toronto Archives. Three short years later, in 1991, Becker Associates took over as publisher of the journal for a partnership that lasted almost thirty years. As it approaches it fiftieth anniversary, the journal becomes a fully digital publication and moves once again, tying a partnership with a new publisher, the University of Toronto Press.

In the last half-century, the world of academic publishing has changed drastically. The same can be said of the field of urban history. Opened to a variety of disciplines from the start, it has also evolved in the last decade to embrace a wide variety of new research objects, notably with the emergence of environmental history. Adapting to these changes, the journal stayed and stays true to the original intentions of its founders: publishing papers by researchers from a variety of background but sharing a common interest in the past and present of Canadian cities. With its new publisher, its solid editorial team and authors reflecting this growing diversity, the UHR / RHU is ready to contemplate at least another half-century of activity!

Read the latest issue of UHR 

Harold Bérubé is full professor at the Université de Sherbrooke. He’s interested in the political and cultural history of North American cities and their inhabitants. He’s also co-editor of the Urban History Review / Revue d’histoire urbaine. His first book, Des sociétés distinctes (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014), looked at the construction of municipal governance in three of Montreal’s upper middle-class suburbs. More recently, he published a second book, Unité, autonomie, démocratie (Boréal, 2019), where he examines the history of Quebec’s main municipal association and its role as mediator between municipalities, the Quebec provincial government and municipal transnational networks.

Owen Temby is an associate professor in the School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His work has focused primarily on climate change adaptation policy development and implementation in British Columbia, New York State, and Victoria, Australia. This research is aimed at understanding how responses to intersectoral environmental issues are coordinated given the fragmentation of specialized knowledge within government agencies.

The UTP Journals blog features guest posts from our authors. The opinions expressed in these posts may not necessarily represent those of UTP Journals and their clients.


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: