Along the north shore of Lake Ontario is a mega-urban region of concrete, steel, wood, stone, and vegetation, built from and on the deciduous mixed wood plains and limestone bedrock lowlands. A massive ecological transformation over 300 years, British and Canadian colonial development reorganized material elements locally and afar: animals trapped and traded, forests cleared and burned, clay dug and fired into bricks, stone and aggregates dug and blasted, and generations of buildings demolished and landfilled. Some of this ecosystem became the construction materials of the place, and some was exported to the US and Europe – dispersed as salable units, forming a diaspora of materials in faraway places. This talk shares early notes for a project that follows Southern Ontario’s material diasporas: in this urbanization project, where did the land go? A narrative material flow history of a region, this project searches for evidence of (animal, plant, stone, various) matter that seemingly disappeared in colonial development. The aim is to account for, give presence to, and understand the ongoing material culture of an ecosystem that was transformed, not erased.)
Jane Mah Hutton is a landscape architect and researcher, teaching at the University of Waterloo. Her work focuses on the act of building – examining the movement of materials as they pass from production landscapes (plantations, quarries) through designed constructions (buildings, landscapes) through demolition or re-use.
Recent books include Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements, Landscript 5: Material Culture- Assembling and Disassembling Landscapes, and Wood Urbanism: From the Molecular to the Territorial, co-edited with Daniel Ibanez and Kiel Moe. She is currently working on a project that traces the material diaspora of Southern Ontario and a film that explores a family archive of a Eurasian overland journey in the 1970s.
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