Rural History 2015

Panel 14

Organizers: Martiin, Carin (1); Sayer, Karen (2)

Affiliation: 1: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden; 2: Dept. of Humanities, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK

Transforming the countryside and rural life? Rural electrification in Canada, Sweden and England

Rural electrification was no straightforward process in any of the three countries that are compared in this session – Canada, Sweden and England. The participating authors highlight the electrification of the countryside as a tricky and multifaceted matter and show that none of the three countries were generally electrified until the mid-twentieth century, although the process began much earlier. While Canada’s vast supplies of flowing water powered hydro-electric generation for those in cities huge distances, sparse population density, and other harsh natural-given conditions thwarted attempts to electrify most of rural Canada before the 1950s. Sweden shared some of these difficulties, but benefitted from access to numerous big and small exploitable water courses around the country in combination with various categories of initiative-takers. The advantages of this diverse structure were, however, later on rather a complicating factor and obstacle to further development. In contrast with the two vast northern countries the electrification of rural England was, to a significant extent, hampered by socioeconomic factors such as landowners’ reluctance to supply tenants and farm labour households with electricity. Due to problems like these, many rural households in Canada, Sweden and England found, and sometimes even preferred, earlier and alternate solutions for heating and lightning and other functions which electricity had long replaced in town households.



Chair: Clare Griffiths, University of Sheffield, UK

Paper 1: Electrifying the countryside: problems and perspectives [+]

Jeremy Burchardt, University of Reading, UK

Paper 2: No immediate blessing: the electrification of farming and the Swedish countryside

Carin Martiin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.

Paper 3: The effect of electrification on English rural life [+]

Karen Sayer, Leeds Trinity University, UK


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015