Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Jeffrey L. McNairn Mcnairn.JPG

Associate Professor


Phone: 613-533-6000, ext: 74363
Fax: 613-533-6298
Office: Watson Hall 225



Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1997
M.Phil., Oxford University, 1991
B.A., Wilfrid Laurier University, 1989   


An intellectual historian specializing in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Canada, Jeff McNairn is particularly interested in the history of the state, the public sphere and print culture; British imperialism and neo-British settler societies; and the history of liberalism. He is currently working on a history of the relationship between taxation and governance in Upper Canada that focuses on roads as collective action problems and a second project entitled "Insolvent, Imprisoned, Bankrupt: Failure and the Law in Common-Law British North America 1752-1869."

Courses Taught


HIST269: Nineteenth-Century Canadian Political History
HIST359: Ontario History
HIST431: Atlantic Canada
HIST433: Power, Authority, and the State in Early Canada
HIST436: Selected Topics in Canadian Legal History 


HIST804: Atlantic World
HIST805: British North America
HIST 839: State and Civil Society in B.N.A./Canada to 1914

Principal Fields of Graduate Supervision: British North America, 1750-1880s; Canadian intellectual history; state formation and the law

Major Publications

The Capacity to Judge: Public Opinion and Deliberative Democracy in Upper Canada, 1791-1854, University of Toronto Press, 2000

'Why We Need But Don't Have an Intellectual History of the British North American Economy,' in Damien-Claude Bélanger, Michel Ducharme, and Sophie Coupal, dir., Les idées en mouvement: perspectives en histoire intellectuelle et culturelle du Canada, Laval University Press, 2004

'Meaning and Markets: Hunting, Economic Development and British Imperialism in Maritime Travel Narratives to 1870,' Acadiensis, Summer 2005

'"Everything was new, yet familiar": British Travellers, Halifax and the Ambiguities of Empire," Acadiensis, Spring 2007

'The Malthusian Moment: British Travellers and the Vindication of Economic Liberalism in the Maritime Countryside,' in Nancy Christie, ed., Transatlantic Subjects: Ideas, Institutions, and Social Experience in Post-Revolutionary British North America, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2008

'British Travellers, Nova Scotia's Black Communities and the Problem of Freedom to 1860,' Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 2008

'In Hope and Fear: Intellectual History, Liberalism, and the Liberal Order Framework,' in Jean-François Constant and Michel Ducharme, eds., Liberalism and Hegemony: Debating the Canadian Liberal Revolution, University of Toronto Press, 2009

Introduction to the Wynford Edition, Gerald M. Craig, Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784-1841, Oxford University Press, 2013, iii-xviii

“A just and obvious distinction”: The Meaning of Imprisonment for Debt and the Criminal Law in Upper Canada’s Age of Reform, in G. Blaine Baker and Donald Fyson, eds., Essays in the History of Canadian Law, XI: Quebec and the Canadas, University of Toronto Press, 2013, 187-234

“The common sympathies of our nature”: Moral Sentiments, Emotional Economies, and Imprisonment for Debt in Upper Canada, Histoire sociale/Social History, n. 98, May 2016, 49-72