- Associate Professor
Professor Fleming is a specialist in Canadian history and North American business history, with research interests in:
- Canadian political history in the 19th and 20th centuries;
- Ontario history; the business history of Canada and the United States;
- the history of entrepreneurship; Canadian political protest movements; and
- civil disobedience in Canadian history
Effective teaching entails achieving a creative balance between communicating facts (although many historical “facts” are disputable), and enabling students to arrive at their own reasonable conclusions about the practical and intellectual implications of a particular historical event, personage, or idea. Through the examination of historiographical trends I attempt to convey to students the importance of repeatedly questioning and reinterpreting what is commonly regarded as knowledge and truth, not just in history, but in any subject. By assisting students to become diligent researchers, careful readers, clear and cogent writers, and critical interpreters and synthesizers of multiple forms of information, my underlying purpose is to communicate to them that informed and substantiated opinions are a hallmark of an educated and hopefully engaged citizen.
Current Research Projects
Currently I'm working on two book manuscripts. One is a history of civil disobedience in Canada, which in turn will become the starting point of a larger study of movements of political protest in Canada from the nineteenth century to the present. A question I am asking is whether historically there have appeared, within the broader North American context, uniquely Canadian manifestations of civil disobedience.
The second project is a history of Ontario spanning the late 16th century to the early 21st century that I'm writing for the University of Toronto Press. Unlike previous surveys of Ontario’s history which overstate the province’s regional divisions and diversity, a central objective of the book will be to describe how a distinctively Upper Canadian/Ontario identity evolved over time, and in particular since the mid-eighteenth century, by focusing on the political, social, cultural and economic events that contributed to the formation of provincial attitudes and perspectives reasonably deemed “Ontarian.” The book will be comparable in scope to three excellent regional/provincial studies also published by University of Toronto Press: Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History (1984), Jean Barman, The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia (1993), and Sean A. Cadigan, Newfoundland and Labrador: A History (2009).
- (2015) “The world is our parish”: John King Gordon, 1900-1989: An Intellectual Biography (University of Toronto Press)
The biography documents Gordon’s extraordinarily varied career as clergyman, university professor, CCF political candidate and organizer, book and magazine editor, journalist and author, and United Nations official. With intellectual origins in the social gospel and Christian socialist movements of the 1920s and 1930s, Gordon was a leading Canadian political activist and advocate of internationalism and human rights by the 1970s and 1980s.
Refereed Journal Publications
- “The Rise and Fall of an Ontario Business Dynasty: William Kennedy & Sons and its Successors, 1857-1997,” Ontario History,CIV (2012), pp.63-89
This account of how a medium-sized Ontario manufacturer conducted business over a span of 140 years provides a revealing look at the entrepreneurial spirit behind the creation of a once imposing, but now much diminished, industrial Ontario.
- (2015) "The world is our parish”: John King Gordon, 1900-1989: An Intellectual Biography (University of Toronto Press).
- (1992) Power at Cost: Ontario Hydro and Rural Electrification, 1911-1958 (McGill-Queen's University Press).
Articles and Book Reviews
- “The Rise and Fall of an Ontario Business Dynasty: William Kennedy & Sons and its Successors, 1857-1997,” Ontario History, CIV, (2012), pp. 63-89.
- review of Profiting the Crown: Canada’s Polymer Corporation, 1942-1990 by Matthew J. Bellamy in University of Toronto Quarterly (Vol. 76., No. 1, Winter 2007), pp. 545-7.
- review of Hydro: The Decline and Fall of Ontario’s Electric Empire by Jamie Swift and Keith Stewart (Between the Lines, 2004) in The American Review of Canadian Studies (Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2006), pp. 357-359.
- “Bishop William Townshend” in Michael Baker and Hilary Bates Neary, eds., 100 Fascinating Londoners (James Lorimer & Company, 2005), pp. 89-90.
- review of Eugene A. Forsey: An Intellectual Biography by Frank Milligan (University of Calgary Press, 2004) in The Canadian Historical Review (Vol. 86, No. 3, Sept. 2005), pp. 555-557.
- “hydroelectricity” in The Oxford Companion to Canadian History (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 300-301.
- "Owen Sound and the CPR Great Lakes Fleet: The Rise of a Port, 1840-1912," Ontario History, LXXVI (1984), pp. 3-31.
- "The Uniform Rate and Rural Electrification Issues in Ontario Politics, 1919-1923," The Canadian Historical Review, LXIV (1983), pp. 494-518.
Awards and Distinctions
- Named several times since 2007 to the University Student Council Teaching Honour Roll