The Making of the Meadowlands
Redeemer alumnus explores the theology and history of a Canadian suburb

Jeremy Parsons ‘12 has filled in the missing history of the development of the Meadowlands with his 180-page master’s thesis. Parsons traces the history of the Meadowlands, from a Neolithic settlement, to an important Loyalist village, and finally to a large suburban neighbourhood. “The thesis is a brightly written and thought-provoking examination of a defining development (and a still divisive one) in the commercial (not to mention cultural) structure of our city. It says a lot about how we relate to each other in and conceptualize our spaces of community,” wrote Jeff Mahoney for The Hamilton Spectator.

Case studies like Parsons’ show the multi-faceted process of expansion Canadian cities go through, while also providing a richer account of local history. Parsons interviewed residents, spoke with key figures in the development of the Meadowlands and scoured archives to create his nearly 200-page thesis. “Locally, I hope it can be a tool for residents and scholars to learn about the history of a place often denigrated as being ‘placeless’ and without character, culture or history. I hope that it also raises concern about the cultural and environmental impacts of these types of mega-developments,” he said.

“I wondered how we could look theologically,
and perhaps critically, at our own backyard.”

The research topic was partially inspired by his time as a student at Redeemer. “When I started my undergraduate degree in 2007, there was still a rural character to the campus and to the southern end of Kitty Murray Lane. By the time I graduated in 2012, a lot of residential infill had happened around Redeemer,” Parsons recalls. He also continues to be inspired by the works of Christian thinkers—like Eric O. Jacobsen, Philip Bess, and Dr. Craig Bartholomew—whom he first read for his Redeemer classes. “They all seemed to be pointing to the fact that there is a disconnect between Christian theology and the built environments in which Christians choose to inhabit. There has long been a strong suburban ethos to North American Christianity, particularly among evangelicals. I wondered how we could look theologically, and perhaps critically, at our own backyard.”

Parsons’ full thesis is available online at researchgate.net. He can also be contacted on Twitter at @JeremyEParsons.

Photo by The Hamilton Spectator

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