From its establishment nearly 200 years ago as a village at the centre of an agricultural district, Hamilton has grown into one of Canada's biggest industrial centres, at the heart of a highly developed regional municipality. The story of its changing landscapes, both physical and human, is presented in the nineteen essays that make up this volume, all by geographers associated with Hamilton's McMaster University. Change is the essence of the story. Each contributor focuses on one aspect of the past, present, or future landscapes of Hamilton, and places it within the context of change in the region. The first series of essays explores physical landscapes - geology and relief, climate, soils, vegetation, and hydrology - and shows how human activity has moulded them. The second group charts the evolution of human landscapes in the region, paying special attention to contemporary Hamilton with its rich and diverse combination of people and cultures, and also to the political intrigue that surrounded the introduction of regional government to the area. Finally a third series focuses on the functioning of the Hamilton region. Within a highly complex system, the city and region balance a broad range of often contradictory trends and activities. The contributors examine the difficulties facing agriculture in a rapidly urbanizing region; the importance of Hamilton in caring for welfare-dependent populations; the future of steel in Steel City; the challenges posed by energy requirements in the region; and the hard choices facing policy-makers. The last two essays discuss the role played by McMaster University in the life of the region, and the landscape of Hamilton today: a remarkable complex of historical interest, great natural beauty, and modern city life.
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