The spatial dimensions of contemporary society differ substantially from those prevailing in earlier centuries and even in the first half of the twentieth century. The change requires a re-thinking of “region,” one of the fundamental concepts in discussions of Canada as nation-state. In the past, the concept of region has enabled Canadians to come to terms with physical, cultural, and historical differences within the country and to imagine the community as an appropriate and cohesive whole. In the conditions created by changing trade patterns, global migration, and electronic communication, the concept of region has to be revised if it is to serve as one of the underpinnings of the contemporary nation-state. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, this paper advocates the use of three regional concepts in place of one. Denoted, instituted, and imagined regions acknowledge the social change, the negotiation, and the contingency that must be part of a spatial approach to Canadian history.
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