Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Jason Gilliland


In recent years, historians and historical geographers have become interested in the use of GIS to study historical patterns, populations, and phenomena. The result has been the emergence of a new discipline, historical GIS. Despite the growing use of GIS across geography and history, the use of GIS in historical research has been limited largely to visualization of historical records, database management, and simple pattern analysis. This is, in part, due to a lack of accessible research on methodologies and spatial frameworks that outline the integration of both quantitative and qualitative historical sources for use in a GIS environment. The first objective of this dissertation is to develop a comprehensive geospatial research framework for the study of past populations and their environments.

The second objective of this dissertation is to apply this framework to the study of daily life in the nineteenth-century city, an important area of scholarship for historical geographers and social historians. Other daily life studies have focused on various experiences of daily life, from domestic duties and child rearing to social norms and the experience of work in early factories. An area that has received little attention in recent years is the daily mobility of individuals as they moved about the ‘walking city’. This dissertation advances our understanding of the diurnal patterns of daily life by recreating the journey to work for thousands of individuals in the city of London, Ontario, and its suburbs in the late nineteenth century. Methodologies are created to capture past populations, their workplaces, and their relationship to the environments they called home. Empirical results outline the relationship between social class, gender, and the journey to work, as well as how social mobility was reflected through the quality of individuals’ residential and neighbourhood environments. The results provide a new perspective on daily mobility, social mobility, and environment in the late nineteenth-century city. Results suggest that individuals who were able to be upwardly socially mobile did so at the expense of substantial increases in their journey to work.