- 1960-2007 (Creation)
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Professor Emeritus Thomas F. McIlwraith, an historical geographer, joined the faculty of Erindale College (now University of Toronto at Mississauga) in 1970. As the son of prominent University of Toronto anthropologist, also named Thomas F. McIlwraith, he had attended the University of Toronto where he obtained both a B.A. (1963) and an M.A. (1966) before venturing to the University of Wisconsin to complete his Ph.D. (1973).
Professor McIlwraith’s research has focused on the history of trade and commerce in the Ontario and Great Lakes region including the history of agriculture, transport and building technologies. His research has also extended into the geography of oceanic discovery and North American settlement over recent centuries. He has written and spoke extensively on the cultural landscape of rural Ontario, on heritage conservation and on environmental management. He is the author of Looking for Old Ontario – a book designed to help readers understand how the countryside and towns can be read as expressions of social development. He is also co-editor of the Concise Historical Atlas of Canada (1998) and, North America: the Historical Geography of a Changing Continent 2nd edition (2001). He has been book review editor for The Canadian Geographer (1984-1990) and for Ontario History (2005 - ). Until 2008, he was advisor for the Historical Atlas of Canada On-Line Project.
As a result of his expertise of local historical geography, Prof. McIlwraith has served on various conservation boards and associations. He was a member of the City of Mississauga Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee between 1976 and 1985, and Chairman from 1983 to 1985. In 1999 he was appointed to the Conservation Review Board for the Province of Ontario, and was Vice-Chair of the Board from 2002 to 2005.
Throughout his thirty-five years at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Prof. McIlwraith taught and developed various courses ranging from human geography, cultural geography, historical geography, environmental geography, mapping and field studies. He chaired the Department of Geography at Erindale from 1990 to 1993 and has held brief teaching appointments at the University of British Columbia and McMaster University. On two occasions he was guest lecturer aboard small American cruise ships plying the Great Lakes and Canada’s Atlantic coastline.
Although he retired from teaching in 2005, Professor McIlwraith maintains an active research program, currently focused on two projects: environmental history along the edge of the Precambrian Shield in southern Ontario, and the role railroads have played in Ontario society over several generations. He lives with his wife Duane in Mississauga, Ontario.