Colonising Space and Producing Territory: John and Elizabeth Simcoe and Water, Power, and Empire in Upper Canada, 1791-1796

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Murphy, Romalie




This dissertation examines how John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and his wife, Elizabeth, manifested imperial expressions of power, sovereignty, security, and population within the new colony in the 1790s. There are also three chapters that focus on how territorial and route surveying played a critical role for both Simcoes, serving as a scientific foundation for reframing Upper Canada as a territory and a population. It does so by offering a re-examination of both their well-known private and public correspondence written in this decade, and also some select paintings and maps through which their ideas of governance and political and cultural visions were expressed. The dissertation's reading and contextualisation of this archive is informed by Michel Foucault's lectures on governmentality, critical cartographic histories, and imperial and colonial historiographies, all of which are brought into conversation with historical studies of Upper Canada.

There are two central arguments in this dissertation. First, it demonstrates the ways that the actions of both Simcoes were imperial in nature and were not directed towards the establishment of an independent Province. Towards this end, it reconsiders Elizabeth's collection of writings as evidence of the ways that she embodied and administered imperial interpretations of power and knowledge as a faithful observer and cataloguer of the colony through scientific methods including cartography. Second, this dissertations argues that the Simcoes' work in and about Upper Canada were expressions of an early modern imperial governmentality that predated and thus operated somewhat differently from the historiographically well-known liberal governmentality that emerged in Canada in the early-to-middle decades of the nineteenth century.


Canadian History




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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