Department of Geography and Planning

Department of Geography and Planning
Department of Geography and Planning
Portrait of John Holmes.

John Holmes

Professor Emeritus
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room E302

I was born and grew up on the edge of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, England and received my geographical education at the University of Sheffield (B.Sc. (Hons.) - 1966, M.A. (Social Science) - 1968) and at The Ohio State University (Ph.D. - 1974). I came to Queen's University in 1971 as a one-year sabbatical replacement and never left!  From 1993-2004, I served as Head of Department. Although I formally retired (i.e. Queen’s stopped paying me!) in June 2013, I continue to supervise a number of graduate students and have an active funded research program.

During sabbatical leaves I held visiting appointments at the University of Sussex (1977-78), University of Wales, Swansea and UWIST (1985-86) and the University of Manchester (1999). In Winter Term 2007, I was the Invited Visiting Professor in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. In the decade prior to my retirement, I was very active in the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) – the union representing academic staff at Queen’s - and served as QUFA President 2005-07. Currently, I serve as a Trustee of the Kingston and District Labour Council and a Director of the 1000 Islands Region Workforce Development Board. In 2014, I received the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Distinguished Academic Award (an annual award that recognizes an academic who excels in each of the domains of academic life:  teaching, research, service to the institution and to the community).


  • B.Sc., M.A. (University of Sheffield)
  • Ph.D. (Ohio State University, 1974)

Research Interests:

My primary research focus is on geographical aspects of the political economy of contemporary economic and social change. I am especially interested in the geographical consequences of the contemporary restructuring and reorganization of production and work. My empirical research focuses primarily on the automobile industry.

Auto Industry Research: I continue to work with Tod Rutherford (Syracuse University) and others on research related to the political economy of the North American automobile industry.  I am affiliated with the Automotive Policy Research Centre (APRC) ( and an Academic Partner on APRC’s major Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) funded five-year project“Manufacturing policy and the Canadian automotive sector: analysis and options for growth, sustainability and global reach.”  My research in that project is on (a) innovation and competitiveness in the Canadian automotive parts industry, and (b) the changing structure of Canada’s trade in automotive products.  

Work, Employment and Labour Relations Research: I am a member of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la mondialisation et le travail (CRIMT) based out of Université Laval, Université de Montréal and HEC Montréal ( and a co-applicant on the CRIMT sponsored project Rethinking Institutions for Work and Employment in a Global Era (Lead PI: Gregor Murray, Université de Montréal) which received multiyear (2008-2016) SSHRC funding program.  Under this research program, and together with Tod Rutherford (Syracuse University), we conducted research on workplace governance in Canada-United States cross-border regions.

Climate Change and Work: A relatively recent new line of research for me is examining the impacts of climate change on the future of employment and work in Canada. This research has been  undertaken under the auspices of the Work in a Warming World (W3) project led by Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé (York University).     This project focuses not only on the loss of traditional jobs and growth in new “green jobs” but also on how existing labour processes might be “greened” and the role unions might play in this process.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF 254 kB)