Language politics and flood control in nineteenth-century Montreal

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9 Scopus citations


In the last two decades of the 19th century, Montreal's city leaders struggled to complete a flood control project - a task faced by authorities in other North American cities during this era. Flood waters did not respect political boundaries and jurisdictions, a fact that complicated the assignment of responsibility for controlling them. In Canada and the US, the federal governments were responsible for overseeing navigable rivers; flood control in urban areas was the obligation of local authorities. Balancing this federal commitment to unimpeded navigation with local responsibility for holding back flood water was an onerous task that often resulted in constitutional gridlock. In a city long divided between English and French speakers, the study of decision-making is largely a study of language compromises. Although a minority, anglophones held sway over the most important affairs of the city, including the flood control project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-85
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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