Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Kenneth Hewitt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The thesis provides an introductory descriptive analysis of the utilization of wood as an energy resource in Ontario from past, present, and future perspectives. Available quantitative and spatial information was compiled and evaluated for each temporal component. Due to a number of factors including local resource supply inadequacies, resource competition, and technological change, wood energy experienced a rapid decline in utilization during the late 19th century. This decline continued steadily throughout the 20th century until world energy events during the 1970’s promoted a modest resurgence. In the domestic sector “serious” users, who consume wood for the majority of their home heating requirements, are concentrated in rural areas close to adequate supplies and on the periphery of the existing fossil fuel and electrical supply infrastructure. There is evidence of a rapidly expanding number of less serious users, particularly in urban and suburban localities, whose consumption motives are significantly influenced by aesthetic factors. Future local supply problems could potentially arise, under increasing utilization, in heavily populated south-central and southwestern Ontario where the least amount of provincial forest resources presently exists: Non-domestic utilization is presently concentrated in the north-central part of Ontario where wood products and related industries are employing the use of production wastes in a wide variety of end use applications under extensive government program initiatives. The analysis suggests that there are some significant opportunities to expand the present role of wood energy in Ontario. The considerable lack of information about many facets of utilization contributes to the uncertainty regarding the exact spatial and quantitative extent of wood’s potential contribution. Future research opportunities exist for geographers in providing the informational basis needed to determine policies for optimum resource development. This informational base will require investigation on three major fronts including: (1) evaluation of the existing resource base as well as areas of potential supply development; (2) evaluation of present consumption as well as the opportunities for expanding the demand base, and; (3) determination of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of present utilization and future development.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season