Rural History

Position / Title: Professor

Francis and Ruth Redelmeier Professor of Rural History
Founder and Director, Rural Diary Archive  link:

Co-ordinator, Rural History Roundtable Speakers Series  link:

Campus: Guelph, Rm 2015 MacKinnon Extension

Phone: (519) 824-4120 ex. 53204



Ph.D. Queen’s University, 1989
M.A. Queen’s University, 1984
B.A. University of Guelph, 1982

My current research continues a career-long interest in rural life.  Much of my work brings the rural into the grand narrative of Canadian History weaving the local and particular into the national area of experience and historical debate.  The countryside was not the city in overalls; it had its own complex trajectory intersecting with the rest of society in interesting and surprising ways.  My current research examines reciprocal work bees (barn raisings and quilting bees etc) to understand the internal workings of “neighbourhood” in its practical and imagined states of being.  I am happy to work with students interested in a wide variety of topics related to rural life, local history, family history, immigration and early settlement.  The University of Guelph is internationally recognized for its innovative research on rural life and provides a supportive and stimulating context for such topics.

Selected Publications: 

Tenants in Time: Family Strategies, Land, and Liberalism in Upper Canada 1799-1871 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009).  Winner of the 2008 Floyd S. Chalmers Award in Ontario History awarded by the Champlain Society; the Canadian Historical Association’s CLIO Award for Regional History; and the Ontario Historical Society’s tri-annual J.J. Talman Award

A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994). Nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and winner of the Ontario Historical Society’s Fred Landon Award for Regional History

Articles and Book Chapters
“A Manly Art: Plowing, Plowing Matches, and Rural Masculinity,” Canadian Historical Review, 95: 2 (June 2014).  Winner of the 2014 Canadian Historical Review Article Award from the Canadian Historical Association

“Reciprocal Work Bees and the Meaning of Neighbourhood,” Canadian Historical Review 82, no. 3 (September 2001): 431-464.  Winner of the 2001 Canadian Historical Review Article Award from the Canadian Historical Association and reprinted in six edited collections.


Founder & Director of the Rural Diary Archive,

Video of my research which you can link to at