2001 volume 33(12) pages 2127 – 2147

Cite as:
Barnes T J, Hayter R, Hay E, 2001, "Stormy weather: cyclones, Harold Innis, and Port Alberni, BC" Environment and Planning A 33(12) 2127 – 2147

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Stormy weather: cyclones, Harold Innis, and Port Alberni, BC

Trevor J Barnes, Roger Hayter, Elizabeth Hay

Received 23 October 2000; in revised form 25 July 2001

Abstract. This paper uses the work of the Canadian economic historian, Harold Innis, to reflect on the nature of resource economies and the single-industry towns that form their backbone. For Innis resource or staple economies are subject to extreme spatial and temporal disruptions that are both creative and destructive. Single-industry towns are on the front line of both that creativity and that destructiveness. They enjoy rapid growth when a new resource is found, but are equally hastily abandoned when resources run out, or prices fall. Innis used the metaphor of the cyclone to depict this pattern of staples accumulation and consequent crisis. This paper will, first, elaborate on Innis's general cyclonic scheme that joins space, time, and staples production, and second, provide a case study of the forest-industry town of Port Alberni, British Columbia, to exemplify his argument.

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