Farmers feed cities, but starting in the nineteenth century they painted them too. Flax from Canada and the northern United States produced fibre for textiles and linseed oil for paint – critical commodities in a century when wars were fought over fibre and when increased urbanization de- manded expanded paint markets. Flax Americana re-examines the changing relationships between farmers, urban consumers, and the land through a narrative of Canada’s first and most important industrial crop. Initially a specialty crop grown by Mennonites and other communities on contracts for small- town mill complexes, flax became big business in the late nineteenth century as multinational lin- seed oil companies quickly displaced rural mills. Flax cultivation spread across the northern plains and prairies, particularly along the edges of dry- land settlement, and then into similar ecosystems in South America’s Pampas. Joshua MacFadyen’s detailed examination of archival records reveals the complexity of a global commodity and its impact on the eastern Great Lakes and northern Great Plains. He demonstrates how international networks of scientists, businesses, and regulators attempted to predict and control the crop’s fron- tier geography, how evolving consumer concerns about product quality and safety shaped the mar- ket and its regulations, and how the nature of each region encouraged some forms of business and limited others. The northern flax industry emerged because of border-crossing communities. By following the plant across countries and over time Flax Ameri- cana sheds new light on the ways that commodi- ties, frontiers, and industrial capitalism shaped the modern world. Joshua MacFadyen in an assistant professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. 2 4 M Q U P S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 E N V I R O N M E N TA L H I S T O R Y • B U S I N E S S H I S T O R Y Flax Americana A History of the Fibre and Oil That Covered a Continent joshua macfadyen How urban painters and prairie farmers brought a flax and oilseed empire to North America. S P E C I F I C AT I O N S McGill-Queen’s Rural, Wildland, and Resource Studies June 2018 978-0-7735-5347-7 $34.95A CDN, $34.95A US, £28.99 paper 978-0-7735-5346-0 $110.00S CDN, $110.00S US, £91.00 cloth 6 x 9 368pp 43 photos, 11 maps, 9 tables, 4 diagrams eBook available