Picture of Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson PhD History

Associate Professor

Faculty Member in History

Arts 822

Research Area(s)

  • Environmental History
  • Energy History
  • Canadian History
  • Sustainability
  • Agroecosystems
  • Commodities
  • Historical GIS


Canadian history Great Plains Historical GIS Muskoka Ontario Trading Consequences agriculture agroecosystems digital history energy environmental history history social metabolism sustainability


Andrew Watson. Making Muskoka: Tourism, Rural Identity, and Sustainability, 1850-1920. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2022.


A. Watson, J. MacFadyen, and H. Willness. "Downtown Toronto’s Emergent Properties: Exploring New Methods for Using Port Records to Disaggregate Urban Metabolism in Toronto, Ontario, 1850-1926.” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, (2024): 1-16. (pre-print publication available online)

E. Tello, V. Sacristán, J.R. Olarieta, C., Cattaneo, J. Marull, M. Pons, S. Gingrich, F. Krausmann, E. Galán, I. Marco, R. Padró, G.I. Guzmán, M. González de Molina, G. Cunfer, A. Watson, J. MacFadyen, E. Fraňková, E. Aguilera, J. Infante-Amate, A. Urrego-Mesa, D. Soto, L. Parcerisas, J. Dupras, L. Díez-Sanjuán, J. Caravaca, L. Gómez, O. Fullana, I. Murray, G. Jover, X. Cussó and R. Garrabou. "Assessing the energy trap of industrial agriculture in North America and Europe: 82 balances from 1830 to 2012." Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 43 (2023): 1-19.

Andrew Watson. “'The Single Most Important Factor": Fossil Fuel Energy, Groundwater, and Irrigation on the High Plains, 1955–1985.” Agricultural History, Vol.94, No.4 (Fall 2020), 629-633.

J. Marull, C. Cattaneo, S. Gingrich, M. González de Molina, G.I. Guzmán, A. Watson, J. MacFadyen, M. Pons, E. Tello. "Comparative Energy-Landscape Integrated Analysis (ELIA) of past and present agroecosystems in North America and Europe from the 1830s to the 2010s." Agricultural Systems, Vol.175 (October 2019), 46-57.

Andrew Watson. "Editor’s Note: The Material Realities of Energy History." The Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire, Vol.53, No.3 (2018): 373-377.

D. Macfarlane and A. Watson. "Hydro Democracy: Water Power and Political Power in Ontario." Scientia Canadiensis, Vol.39, No.2 (2018): 1-18.

J. MacFadyen and A. Watson. “Woodland Agroecosystem Energy Profiles: Prince Edward Island, Canada: 1870-2010.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 18, No.4 (2018), 1033-1045.

S. Gingrich, I. Marco, E. Aguilera, R. Padró, C. Cattaneo, G. Cunfer, G. Guzman, J. MacFadyen, A. Watson. “Agroecosystem energy transitions in the old and new worlds: trajectories and determinants at the regional scale.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol.18, No.4 (2018), 1089-1101.

G. Cunfer, A. Watson, J. MacFadyen. “Profiles of an Agricultural Frontier: The American Great Plains, 1850-2000.” Regional Environmental Change, Vol. 18, No.4 (2018), 1021-1032.

Andrew Watson. “Pioneering a Rural Identity on the Canadian Shield: Tourism, Household Economies, and Poor Soils in Muskoka, Ontario, 1870-1900.” Canadian Historical Review, Vol.98, No.2 (June 2017), 261-293.

Andrew Watson. “Coal in Canada.” In Powering Up Canada: A History of Power, Fuel, and Energy from 1600, edited by R.W. Sandwell. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), 213-250.

Andrew Watson. “Mobility and Sustainability: Lakeside Supply Networks in the Age of Steamboat Navigation, Muskoka, Ontario, 1880-1930.” In Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History, edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin Coates. (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016), 79-102.

Jim Clifford, Beatrice Alex, Colin M. Coates, Ewan Klein, Andrew Watson. “Geoparsing History: Locating Commodities in Ten Million Pages of Nineteenth-Century Sources.” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Vol.43, Issue.3 (2016), 115-131.

Uta Hinrichs, Beatrice Alex, Jim Clifford, Andrew, Watson, Aaron Quigley, Ewan Klein, Colin M. Coates. “Trading Consequences: A Case Study of Combining Text Mining and Visualization to Facilitate Document Exploration.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Vol. 30, Issue Supplement 1 (December 2015), i50-i75.

Teaching & Supervision

Canadian history energy history environmental history food history sustainability urban environments

I teach several undergraduate courses in Canadian History, Environmental History, Energy History, and Climate Change.

Areas for graduate student supervision: Canadian Environmental History, Energy History, Agricultural and Rural History, Sustainability.


Canada Historical GIS Muskoka agriculture agroecosystems coal commodities energy environmental history farm systems history irrigation social metabolism sustainability

I am an environmental historian with specialization in energy, agriculture, sustainability, and commodities.

My first book, Making Muskoka: Tourism, Rural Identity, and Sustainability, 1870-1920, was published by UBC Press in 2022. I have also collaborated on interdisciplinary teams on research that explores the role of energy in shaping agroecosystems in the Great Plains and Prince Edward Island during the 19th and 20th centuries.

I am currently working on two projects. The first is an urban metabolism of Toronto from 1850-1937. Using harbour master records that list every ship that entered the port of Toronto and the commodities they delivered, I am working with Joshua MacFadyen (UPEI) to reconstruct the flow of material and energy from Great Lakes resource hinterlands into the city's downtown that were used to build, feed, and fuel Toronto as it grew from a small colonial port town into one of the largest urban, commercial, and industrial centres on the Great Lakes. The second is my current book project on a history of coal in Canada, which aims to understand the relationship between liberal democracy, capitalism, and fossil fuel energy (mainly coal) in the creation of modern Canada between 1850 and 1950.

Education & Training

PhD, History, York University

MA, History, Queen's University

BA(Honours), History, Queen's University