Fonds 1474 - James T. Lemon fonds

Identity area

Reference code

UTA 1474


James T. Lemon fonds


  • 1862-2005 (predominant 1964-2005) (Creation)

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Extent and medium

8.05 m of textual records (38 boxes)

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Raised in West Lorne, Ontario, James (Jim) Thomas Lemon attended the University of Western Ontario where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Geography (1955). He later attended the University of Wisconsin where he received a Master of Science in Geography (1961) as well as his Ph.D. (1964). In 1967, after having worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Prof. Lemon joined the University of Toronto Geography Department, where he remained until his retirement in 1994. He died in Toronto on 31 January 2012.

His career has been spent in the field of urban historical geography of which he has written numerous articles, papers and chapters in books. He also has three books to his credit: The Poor Man's Country: A Geographical Study of Early South eastern Pennsylvania (1972), and Toronto Since 1918: An Illustrated History (1985). The former work, based on his Ph.D. thesis, won the Albert J. Beveridge Award in 1972 given by the American Historical Association. The latter was a finalist in the Toronto Book Awards in 1986. His most recent work Liberal Dreams and Nature's Limits: Great North American Cities since 1600 was published in 1996. His time at the University was also spent in several administrative positions including Graduate Secretary in the Department of History (1968-1971 & 1979-1980), Member and intermittent Chair of the Urban Studies Programme Innis College (1973-1978) as well as Director of the Community Living Programme at Innis College from 1975-1978.

Throughout his career, Prof. Lemon was an active member of several professional associations including the Canadian Association of Geographers, the American Association of Geographers, the Institute of Early American History and Culture, and the Organization of American Historians. Prof. Lemon, who remains a community activist, was chairman of the Annex Residents' Association in 1973 and the Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations which led the fight against the Spadina Expressway. In 1975, he ran for the New Democratic Party in the provincial election and from 1976-1978 served on the Toronto Board of Education.

James Lemon died at his home in Toronto on 31 January 2012.

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Scope and content

The James T. Lemon fonds documents most aspects of Prof. Lemon’s life, in terms of both private and professional experiences. Records in Series 1 (Biographical), Series 14 (Christian Youth Groups) and Series 15 (Family Paper) give some overview of Prof. Lemon’s early life and family background. Records in Series 15 may be helpful to genealogical researchers interested in families who settled around West Lorne in south western Ontario.

Biographical profiles, correspondence, papers, addresses, manuscripts, reviews and grant files in Series 1 through Series 6 document most aspects as his career as a urban historical geographer. In addition, Series 12, documents much of his involvement with professional associations as well as community groups. His activities in the political arena as an active New Democrat are also documented in Series 13.

Course lectures and outlines, student papers, references, and correspondence found in Series 7 through Series 10 document his role as a teacher. Series 10 and 11 also give some evidence to his various administrative roles within the University. Of particular note are the early accessions of student term papers found in Series 7, Teaching. These cover a range of historical topics relating mainly to Toronto and, as secondary source material, may be of interest to those researching the urban history of Toronto.

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Conditions governing access

Student files in Series 8 are closed for 75 years from latest date of file activity. Files in Series 9 are closed for 30 years from latest date of file activity. All other records are open.

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Finding aids

File list for series 12 only.

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Related units of description

Records relating to his book Toronto Since 1918: An Illustrated History and his work on the Annex Residents Association and the Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations have been deposited at the City of Toronto Archives.

Records relating to his book The Poor Man's Country: A Geographical Study of Early South eastern Pennsylvania are deposited at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, bureau of Archives & History.

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