Date of Thesis

Spring 2018


This thesis seeks to examine the transition from traditional resource extractive industry to seasonal tourism industry around Lake Memphremagog, a mid-sized freshwater lake that is situated across the USA/ Canada border in northern Vermont and southern Quebec. Reading sources primarily from the decades 1860-1890, this research examines changing conceptualizations of nature that link to specific land use trends. Northern Vermont was left with a decimated landscape following the decline of the logging and agricultural industries by the mid-nineteenth century. Meanwhile, nature centered tourism began to emerge in the same area. The new tourism economy catered to the wealthy urban elite, and who were seemingly blind to the ecological turnover that had previously occurred, and accepted the landscape as ‘wilderness.’ This is largely due to the fact that in visiting Memphremagog, privileged Gilded Age tourists were searching for a prescribed, generic nature experience. This generality explains why a number of resort areas on the East Coast were developed during the same era, parallel to Memphremagog. The literature and art regarding Memphremagog that came out of these decades reflects both the components of a desired experience, and the generic attitude of those involved. However, the Lake Memphremagog region had a unique feature that set it apart from competitors: the international border. As I conclude this thesis, I highlight how the impact of the border has increased overtime. Initially, the border meant little to communities around Lake Memphremagog, but following the conclusion of the Civil War, a period of tensions, both local and national, caused the border to become more of a political and lived reality. This would permanently change the relationships of communities around the lake.


environmental history, lake, Canada, Vermont, Gilded Age, tourism

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



Second Major


First Advisor

Claire Campbell