White Gold


322 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0708-3
DDC 333.91'415'0971





Reviewed by Richard G. Kuhn

Richard G. Kuhn is an associate professor of geography at the University
of Guelph.


The development and export of natural resources has been, and perhaps
still is, a fundamental tenet of the Canadian economy and society. The
emphasis placed on resource development in the energy sector has
reflected this focus. Karl Froschauer explores this and related themes
as they pertain to hydroelectric power in Canada. Specifically, he
maintains that Canadians have had their lives subordinated to the
political and economic imperative of damming rivers to produce
electricity for domestic consumption and export. Topics include the
conflicts between provincial governments and their federal counterparts
over issues of developing national and regional power grids, the hopes
of securing industrial diversification resulting from plentiful and
cheap electricity, conflicts between private and public ownership, and
national versus continental energy strategies.

The substantive chapters in the book centre around four research
aspects: ownership, industrial linkages, overcapacity of the electricity
network, and the legitimization of a continental versus a national
strategy. This framework proves to be very useful in the review of five
major hydro projects in the northern regions of Canada. The cases
selected are highly appropriate: Niagara Falls (Ontario), James Bay
(Quebec), Churchill Falls (Newfoundland/Labrador), Nelson River
(Manitoba), and Peace River (British Columbia). Each case study outlines
the historical background to the dam construction through to the
political, economic, and social repercussions of the projects. By
following a common framework for each case study, the author allows
useful comparisons to be made. As well, each case study can be read
independently for the larger theoretical and comparative foci of the

In general, Froschauer has produced a very succinct and insightful book
on Canadian hydroelectricity development. His critical stance on many of
the issues and repercussions of mega-project development is properly
researched and well presented. The book also contains useful appendixes
and a comprehensive bibliography.


Froschauer, Karl., “White Gold,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2015.