Dr. Brian Osborne
Department of Geography and Planning
Dr. Brian Osborne is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he has taught since 1967. His research areas include Indigenous history, settlement history, cultural landscapes, and the role of the "culture of communications" in the development of a Canadian sense of place. He has published extensively on the Kingston area, his most widely read piece being the volume he wrote with Donald Swainson, Kingston: Building on the Past (1988) which he recently reworked into a new edition, Kingston: Building on the Past for the Future(2011). Other recent volumes are The Rock and the Sword: A History of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kingston (2004) and (with Shirley Gibson Langille) Landscapes and Inscapes: Drawn to History with Brush of Serendipity.
Professor Osborne has served as a consultant for the National Capital Commission, Heritage Canada, Parks Canada, Canada Post, and the National Film Board. He is Past President of the Ontario Historical Society, Past President of the Kingston Historical Society, and serves on the boards of several heritage organizations.
- B.A., Ph.D. (Southampton, 1967)
Despite several seductive diversions along my academic odyssey, I continue to be an unreconstructed historical geographer. My past research interests have been concerned with the settlement geography of such diverse locales as Wales, Colorado, Western Canada, and Ontario. In particular, for both academic and populist reasons, I enjoy studying the place in which I live.
Recent publications have addressed the role of art, literature, and the "culture of communications" in the development of Canadian national identity. The latter was originally related to canals, railways, and postal systems, all of which have also resulted in contract work for such agencies as Parks Canada and Canada Post. Increasingly, my approach as an historical-cultural geographer addresses symbolic landscapes, monumentalism, and performed commemoration as contributors to the construction of social cohesion and national identity. In particular, I am interested in examining the relevance of past national metanarratives to an increasingly plural and cosmopolitan society. In recent years, it has also looked at the role of the commodification of heritage and culture in post-industrial societies, and the impact of tourism as both an economic opportunity and a threat to sustainable communities. These matters will be central to my ongoing project, Establishing the Centre, Integrating the Margins: An Historical Geography of Canadian National Identity. Currently, I am involved in the SSHRC funded Jeanne Wolfe Memorial Project on Canadian Utopias, and initiatives for the commemoration of the Great War.