Field Experiments: Critical Historical Geographies of Canada's Central Experimental Farm, 1886-1938.
Dominion scientific agriculture played a rich but often over-looked role in the historical geography of Canada, in general, and in the expansion of agricultural settler colonialism across northern North America, in particular. The development of agricultural economies was undertaken with extensive state support. The Central Experimental Farm, established at Ottawa, Ontario in 1886 and still used for its original purpose today, was a key institutional player as the primary agricultural research station of the Department of Agriculture. This thesis places the Farm in its national context through a number of interrelated case studies, divided into two informal groupings, that elucidate the different ways dominion scientific agriculture operated in Canada during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries. The first grouping is focused on plants—such as trees, hybrid wheat varieties, and wild rice/manoomin—and animals—specifically chickens—that underscore the racial, gendered, and spatial hierarchies operating within dominion scientific agriculture itself as well as across Canada at large. The second grouping builds on these cases to examine the role of information movement and time in the scientific work of Farm scientists. Through these diverse cases I underline the importance of agricultural science in advancing and helping to constitute liberal governmentality across the heterogeneous terrain of northern North America. By exploring the Farm’s centrality in scientific and colonial networks, this thesis advances our understanding of the role of agricultural and scientific knowledge and practices in the development of Canada between 1886 and 1938.