Keith Fleming

- Professor (on sabbatical leave 2019/2020)

image of Keith Fleming
PhD, The University of Western Ontario, 1988
Office: Lawson Hall 1208
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84967
Office Hours: On Sabbatical
Full CV

Research Interests

Professor Fleming is a specialist in Canadian history and North American business history, with research interests in Canadian political history, the history of Ontario, and the history of business entrepreneurship. His current research projects include a political history of Ontario spanning the 19th century to the early 21st century, and a history of political protest and dissent in Canada. 

Current Research Projects

Currently I'm working on several projects.

The first is a "new" political history of Ontario spanning the 18th to the 21st centuries that I'm writing for the University of Toronto Press. Unlike previous surveys of Ontario's history which overstate the province's regional divisions and diversity, a central objective of the book will be to describe how a distinctively Upper Canadian/Ontario identity evolved over time, and in particular since the mid-eighteenth century, by focusing on the political, social, cultural and economic events that contributed to the formation of provincial attitudes and prespectives reasonably deemed "Ontarian." The book will be comparable in scope to three excellent regional/provincial studies also published by University of Toronto Press: Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History (1984), Jean Barman, The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia (1993), and Sean A. Cadigan, Newfoundland and Labrador: A History (2009). 

The second project is a history of political protest and dissent throughout Canadian history from the nineteenth century to the present. 

The third project is an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography of George Howard Ferguson (1870-1946), the former Ontario Conservative premier and Canadian high commissioner in London.

Teaching Philosophy

Effective teaching entails achieving a creative balance between communicating facts (although many historical “facts” are disputable), and enabling students to arrive at their own reasonable conclusions about the practical and intellectual implications of a particular historical event, personage, or idea. Through the examination of historiographical trends I attempt to convey to students the importance of repeatedly questioning and reinterpreting what is commonly regarded as knowledge and truth, not just in history, but in any subject. By assisting students to become diligent researchers, careful readers, clear and cogent writers, and critical interpreters and synthesizers of multiple forms of information, my underlying purpose is to communicate to them that informed and substantiated opinions are a hallmark of an educated and hopefully engaged citizen.

Latest Publications


  • (2015) “The world is our parish”: John King Gordon, 1900-1989: An Intellectual Biography (University of Toronto Press)

    The biography documents Gordon’s extraordinarily varied career as clergyman, university professor, CCF political candidate and organizer, book and magazine editor, journalist and author, and United Nations official. With intellectual origins in the social gospel and Christian socialist movements of the 1920s and 1930s, Gordon was a leading Canadian political activist and advocate of internationalism and human rights by the 1970s and 1980s.

Refereed Journal Publications

  • “The Rise and Fall of an Ontario Business Dynasty: William Kennedy & Sons and its Successors, 1857-1997,” Ontario History,CIV (2012), pp.63-89 

    This account of how a medium-sized Ontario manufacturer conducted business over a span of 140 years provides a revealing look at the entrepreneurial spirit behind the creation of a once imposing, but now much diminished, industrial Ontario.

Selected Publications


  • (2015) "The world is our parish”: John King Gordon, 1900-1989: An Intellectual Biography (University of Toronto Press).
  • (1992) Power at Cost: Ontario Hydro and Rural Electrification, 1911-1958 (McGill-Queen's University Press).

Articles and Book Reviews

  • review of David Culver with Alan Freeman, Expect Miracles: Recollections of a Lucky Life (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014) in The Prospectus: The Newsletter of the Canadian Business History Association, December 2017.

  • review of “‘A Justifiable Obsession’: Conservative Ontario’s Relations with Ottawa, 1943-1985” by P.E. Bryden in University of Toronto Quarterly (Vol. 84, No. 3, Summer 2015), pp. 308-310.

  • “The Rise and Fall of an Ontario Business Dynasty: William Kennedy & Sons and its Successors, 1857-1997,” Ontario History, CIV, (2012), pp. 63-89.

  • review of Profiting the Crown: Canada’s Polymer Corporation, 1942-1990 by Matthew J. Bellamy in University of Toronto Quarterly (Vol. 76., No. 1, Winter 2007), pp. 545-7.

  • review of Hydro: The Decline and Fall of Ontario’s Electric Empire by Jamie Swift and Keith Stewart (Between the Lines, 2004) in The American Review of Canadian Studies (Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2006), pp. 357-359.

  • “Bishop William Townshend” in Michael Baker and Hilary Bates Neary, eds., 100 Fascinating Londoners (James Lorimer & Company, 2005), pp. 89-90.

  • review of Eugene A. Forsey: An Intellectual Biography by Frank Milligan (University of Calgary Press, 2004) in The Canadian Historical Review (Vol. 86, No. 3, Sept. 2005), pp. 555-557.

  • “hydroelectricity” in The Oxford Companion to Canadian History (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 300-301.

  • "Owen Sound and the CPR Great Lakes Fleet: The Rise of a Port, 1840-1912," Ontario History, LXXVI (1984), pp. 3-31.

  • "The Uniform Rate and Rural Electrification Issues in Ontario Politics, 1919-1923," The Canadian Historical Review, LXIV (1983), pp. 494-518.

Complete List of Publications

Awards and Distinctions

  • Named several times since 2007 to the University Student Council Teaching Honour Roll