Building the Rideau Canal: A Pictorial History by Robert W. Passfield (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside/Parks Canada, l982), l84 p., illus. This hardcover book, produced to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Rideau Canal, provides an overview history of the origins, construction, and operation of the canal in the context of its strategic, economic, and engineering significance; and is heavily illustrated with contemporary watercolours, pencil sketches, and historic engineering drawings.
Reprinted in paperback by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (1983); and by the Friends of the Rideau Canal (2003), with permission.
Construction du canal Rideau : histoire illustrée by Robert W. Passfield (Ottawa : Parcs Canada,
1982), 184 p., illus. Ce livre à couverture rigide, rédigé à l’occasion du cent cinquantième
anniversaire du canal Rideau, fait le survol historique des origines, de la
construction et du fonctionnement du canal en fonction de ses portées
stratégique, économique et dans le domaine du génie. L’ouvrage est
abondamment illustré d’aquarelles et de croquis au crayon anciens et
comporte des plans historiques d’ingénieurs.
Technology in Transition: The 'Soo' Ship Canal, l889-1985 by Robert W. Passfield ( Ottawa: Canadian Parks Service, l989), 267 p., illus. This book covers three aspects of the Sault Ste. Marie Ship Canal: its construction in 1889-1895; its electrification and operation; and the erection of a novel emergency swing bridge dam to protect the ship canal opening into Lake Superior.
Technological innovations are discussed within the context of contemporary North American and European developments during a veritable age of technology in transition. The design evolution of the engineering structures and their operating mechanisms is discussed within a political, economic, and technological context, encompassing a National Policy of economic development.
The book comments on the novel uses and adaptations of a newly-established electric power and lighting technologies (D.C. and A.C.); the introduction of new construction materials (steel and concrete) into canal building; and the historical development of the Great Lakes shipping trade (the evolution in the size of the upper lake boats, and the phenomenal growth in shipping traffic volumes on the upper lakes).
Reviewed in: Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 71, June 1990, pp. 311-312.; Waterways World (Burton-on-Trent, England), Vol. 18, No. 12, Dec. 1989, p. 53; Journal of Transport History (University of Manchester Press), Vol. 11, No. 2, Sept. 1990, pp. 86-87; Technology and Culture (University of Chicago Press), Vol. 31, No. 4, October 1990, pp. 880-881; IA: Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1989, pp. 73-74; and The Public Historian (University of California Press), Vol. 14, No. 3, Summer 1992, pp. 107-114.
Phips' Amphibious Assault on Canada - 1690, Origins, Logistics, and Organization, The Attack and Aftermath, and 'Where Sovereignty Lay' by Robert W. Passfield (Ottawa: By Author, 2011), 178p., maps.
This book comprises a narrative history of the origins, conduct, and aftermath of an attack on Quebec by a New England fleet under the command of Sir William Phips. It relates what transpired on the Canada Expedition, as recorded by the New England participants who sought to understand, explain, and justify their failed attack, and its devastating outcome, within the framework of the Puritan belief in Providence.
It is also the story of the organizational and logistical difficulties overcome, and of the challenges faced, in carrying on an amphibious operation over hundreds of miles of ocean and unchartered river waters in the age of sail; and a tale of the resultant cost in human lives and suffering, and the impact of disease.
The last chapter addresses how the concept of sovereignty evolved in the government of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, within the context of the Puritan theology and world view, and how the Crown and colony differed as to 'where sovereignty lay' during a period of political upheaval that immediately preceded the Phips Expedition.
Reviewed in: The Northern Mariner, Vol. XXIII, No. 2, April 2013, pp. 195-196.
Military Paternalism, Labour, and the Rideau Canal Project by Robert W. Passfield (Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2013), 302p, illus.
This book comprises a revisionist history of the labour situation on the Rideau Canal construction project (1826-1832), that rejects the existing Marxist interpretation of class conflict and worker exploitation by the military. In doing so, it examines working conditions on the canal project, takes into account cultural factors in assessing the degree of acculturation of the different immigrant labour groups in adapting to living and working in a North American wilderness environment, and records the paternalism practiced by the Commanding Royal Engineer, Lt. Col. John By, on behalf of the workers on the canal project, and by British military officers in aiding immigrants to settle in the Rideau wilderness.
An Appendix presents a critique of the Marxist interpretation of canal labour history during the ‘contractor paternalism’ era, and proffers a cultural values interpretation for military paternalism in Canada, which is based on a comparative analysis of the political culture values of Anglican toryism and Lockean liberalism.
Available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook editions.