Graduate Theses & Dissertations


History and Legacy of the “Orillia Asylum for Idiots
The “Orillia Asylum for Idiots” (1861 - 2009), Canada’s oldest and largest facility for the care and protection of children and adults with disabilities, was once praised as a beacon of humanitarian progress and described as a “community within a community.” Yet, survivors who lived in the facility during the post Second World War period, a time described as the “golden age of children’s rights,” tell harrowing stories of abuse and neglect. Despite the nation’s promise to “put children first” and protect the universal rights of “Canada’s children,” children incarcerated within the Orillia Asylum were subjected to systemic neglect and cultural discrimination, daily humiliation and dehumanization, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Far from being a place for child protection and care, this dissertation finds that the Orillia Asylum was a site of a multi-faceted and all-encompassing violence, a reality that stands in complete contrast to the grand narrative through which the facility has historically been understood. This dissertation considers how such violence against children could occur for so long in a facility maintained by the state, a state invested in protecting children. It finds that children who were admitted to the Orillia Asylum were not considered to be “Canada’s children” at all by virtue of being labelled as “mentally deficient,” “feeble-minded,” “not-quite-human,” and “not-quite-children.” Author Keywords: childhood, disability, Huronia Regional Centre, institutional child abuse, institutional violence, institutionalization
Shoreline Stewardship
This thesis aimed to determine what factors influence individual- and community-level shoreline stewardship attitudes and behaviours. Shoreline stewardship is part of the broader literature of environmental stewardship and place-based conservation. The needs and barriers limiting stewardship action were examined, as were the opportunities for increased impact. The Love Your Lake (LYL) program served as a case study into the impact of ENGO programming on shoreline stewardship among shoreline property owners in Ontario. This was investigated using a program workshop, interviews and focus groups with past program participants, and existing participant survey data. Community-Based Social Marketing principles were used to further examine the opportunities for increased impact on stewardship behaviour. The study found that the LYL program was effective in starting or continuing a conversation in communities around shoreline health. Some of the remaining needs and/or barriers included limited time at the cottage; limited knowledge of how to fix existing shoreline issues; low stock of local native plants and environmentally minded landscapers; ineffective messaging; a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern; and weak environmental policies and governance of shorelines. Some participants also listed cost as a barrier, while others felt it had been well addressed already. Most participants thought that education could be a barrier but that it had been well addressed locally through LYL or other programming. Some key motivators and opportunities to increase shoreline stewardship included community building, increased lake association capacity, improved communication and marketing strategies, and persistence. Author Keywords: Community-Based Social Marketing, Environmental Stewardship, Lake Health, Place-Based Conservation, Pro-Environmental Behaviour, Shoreline Stewardship
effects of heat dissipation capacity on avian physiology and behaviour
In endotherms, physiological functioning is optimized within a narrow range of tissue temperatures, meaning that the capacity to dissipate body heat is an important parameter for thermoregulation and organismal performance. Yet, experimental research has found mixed support for the importance of heat dissipation capacity as a constraint on reproductive performance. To investigate the effects of heat dissipation capacity on organismal performance, I experimentally manipulated heat dissipation capacity in free-living tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, by trimming feathers overlying the brood patch, and monitored parental provisioning performance, body temperature, and offspring growth. I found that individuals with an enhanced capacity to dissipate body heat (i.e., trimmed treatment) provisioned their offspring more frequently, and reared larger offspring that fledged more consistently. Although control birds typically reduced their nestling provisioning rate at the highest ambient temperatures to avoid overheating, at times they became hyperthermic. Additionally, I examined inter-individual variation in body temperature within each treatment, and discovered that body temperature is variable among all individuals. This variability is also consistent over time (i.e., is repeatable), irrespective of treatment. Further, I found that individuals consistently differed in how they adjusted their body temperature across ambient temperature, demonstrating that body temperature is a flexible and repeatable physiological trait. Finally, I used a bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) to examine the regulation of body temperature of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) during an immune challenge. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide induces sickness behaviours, and results in a fever, hypothermia, or a combination of the two, depending on species and dosage. I asked what the relative role of different regions of the body (bill, eye region, and leg) is in heat dissipation/retention during the sickness-induced body temperature response. I found that immune-challenged individuals modulated their subcutaneous temperature primarily through alterations in peripheral blood flow, particularly in the legs and feet, detectable as a drop in surface temperature. These results demonstrate that the importance of regional differences in regulating body temperature in different contexts. Taken together, my thesis demonstrates that heat dissipation capacity can affect performance and reproductive success in birds. Author Keywords: body temperature, heat dissipation, tree swallow, zebra finch
Perspectives on Poultry
The contemporary denigration of poultry combined with the intensification of industrialized animal agriculture has deepened divides between humans and poultry, creating a disconnect that holds implications for both parties and the sustainability of North American food systems. This study explores how people with poultry keeping experience perceive these animals, how their views are influenced and how these narratives may intersect with themes of sustainability. Surveys and interviews aimed at small flock keepers and commercial farmers within an area of Central Ontario revealed that poultry sentience was widely recognized among participants. Overall, this study’s findings disrupt commonly held notions that poultry are one-dimensional beings and highlight the mutual benefits that can come when the distance is lessened between humans and poultry. This research contends that reimagining human-poultry relationships could improve our ability to consider and challenge dominant systems that perpetuates unsustainable food production and negatively affects both animal and human life. Author Keywords: history poultry keeping, human-animal studies, human-poultry relationships, keeper attitudes, poultry sentience, sustainable food systems
Enhanced weathering and carbonation of kimberlite residues from South African diamond mines
Mafic and ultramafic mine wastes have the potential to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through enhanced weathering and CO2 mineralization. In this study, kimberlite residues from South African diamond mines were investigated to understand how weathering of these wastes leads to the formation of secondary carbonate minerals, a stable sink for CO2. Residues from Venetia Diamond Mine were fine-grained with high surface areas, and contained major abundances of lizardite, diopside, and clinochlore providing a maximum CO2 sequestration capacity of 3–6% of the mines emissions. Experiments utilized flux chambers to measure CO2 drawdown within residues and unweathered kimberlite exhibited greater negative fluxes (-790 g CO2/m2/year) compared to residues previously exposed to process waters (-190 g CO2/m2/year). Long-term weathering of kimberlite residues was explored using automated wet-dry cycles (4/day) over one year. Increases in the δ13C and δ18O values of carbonate minerals and unchanged amount of inorganic carbon indicate CO2 cycling as opposed to a net increase in carbon. Kimberlite collected at Voorspoed Diamond Mine contained twice as much carbonate in yellow ground (weathered) compared to blue ground, demonstrating the ability of kimberlite to store CO2 through prolonged weathering. This research is contributing towards the utilization of kimberlite residues and waste rock for CO2 sequestration. Author Keywords: CO2 fluxes, CO2 mineralization, CO2 sequestration, Enhanced weathering, Kimberlite, Passive carbonation
Fungal pathogen emergence
The emergence of fungal hybrid pathogens threatens sustainable crop production worldwide. To investigate hybridization, the related smut fungi, Ustilago maydis and Sporisorium reilianum, were selected because they infect a common host (Zea mays), can hybridize, and tools are available for their analysis. Hybrid dikaryons exhibited filamentous growth on plates but reduced virulence and limited colonization in Z. mays. Select virulence genes in the hybrid had similar transcript levels on plates and altered levels during infection of Z. mays relative to each parental dikaryon. Virulence genes were constitutively expressed in the hybrid to determine if its pathogenic development could be influenced. Little impact was observed in hybrids with increased expression of effectors known to modify host response and metabolism. However, increased expression of transcriptional regulators of stage specific pathogenic development increased the hybrid’s capacity to induce symptoms. These results establish a base for investigating molecular aspects of fungal hybrid pathogen emergence. Author Keywords: effectors, hybrid pathogenesis assays, Sporisorium reilianum, transcription factors, Ustilago maydis, virulence factors
Extraction and Characterization of Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen from Eggshell Membrane Waste
Connecting academia to industry is one important way to advance towards meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainability Goals (SDGs).1 Sustainability can be applied to all industrial sectors with the SDGs being implemented by 2030.2 This research contributes to the SDGs by investigating a way to remediate an industrial waste stream in the egg-breaking industry. If adopted, this would reduce the amount of eggshell membrane (ESM) waste placed in landfill where it does not decompose properly. The work described in this thesis specifically targets extraction of collagen and hyaluronic acid (HA), two components of the ESM that are of commercial value in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and biomedical industries3,4 . Deliverables from this research include economically viable extraction methods, developed based on green chemistry approaches, that can be transferred from lab bench to industrial scale. The extraction development process was guided by the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry5,6,7 and the 12 Principles of Green Engineering.8 HA was most successfully extracted using a sodium acetate solution on ground ESM. Filtrate was collected, exhaustively dialyzed and lyophilized. High molecular weight HA was recovered. Fourier transform infrared attenuated total reflectance (FTIR-ATR) spectroscopy and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy compared extracted material to reference HA identifying successful extraction. Collagen was extracted using acetic acid or pepsin enzyme digestion. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) compared amino acid composition of extracted materials to reference collagen material. FTIR-ATR spectra also supported successful extraction of collagen. This work identifies that HA and collagen can be conveniently extracted from ESM using an economical approach that can be implemented into egg-breaking facilities. This work highlights the benefits of connecting academia to industry to advance green chemical approaches while implementing sustainable practices into existing industry. Author Keywords: collagen, eggshell membrane waste, extraction, green chemistry, hyaluronic acid, sustainability
Finding Cowboy Joe
Canadian authored diverse LGBTQ2S children's picture books can help counter socialized aspects of heteronormativity and other forms of oppression. This thesis outlines the challenging process for identifying and locating Canadian authored diverse LGBTQ2S children's picture books, with suggestions provided for mitigating this process. Twenty-two books (list and summaries included) are collected and then analysed through three different lenses: Sipe’s Semiotically Framed Theory of Text-pictured Relationships; intersectionality; and Canadian Studies. Findings include: the significance of a micro press in offering representation for queer intersectionality, the shift from the portrayal of discrimination against queer parents to an attention to the policing of children’s gender identity and expression, and the embrace of the child on their own terms. In addition, a Canadian queer children’s book has been created by the researcher, developed through the process of writing of this thesis. Author Keywords: Canadian authors, Canadian identity, children’s picture books, countering heteronormativity, ethnic diversity, LGBTQ2S
(Re)encountering black bears
This thesis explores the perceptions of human-bear interactions in Ontario, suggesting that they have been shaped by narratives that have roots in colonial perceptions of nonhuman animals. Further, I seek to consider how these interactions could unfold differently if we rethought our relationships and responsibilities to these beings, in particular through an embrace of Indigenous-led conservation informed by ideas of animal welfare. The methods used for this research were first empirical, through qualitative data collection via interviews. Second, it was interpretive, through the observation of bear experiences and through the analysis of circulated and conceptual themes of bear information found in media articles. What emerged was an understanding that the mitigation efforts which are used when human-bear interactions occur are deeply influenced by political, social, and cultural factors that cannot be removed from these matters, asserting that a reconceptualization of current conservation frameworks needs to be considered. Author Keywords: Compassionate conservation, Human-bear interactions, Human-wildlife relations, Indigenous conservation, Narrative inquiry, Wildlife conservation
Adoption of a Finite Element Model of Material Deformation Relevant to Studying Corneal Biomechanics
The human cornea is required to exhibit specific material properties to maintain its regular shape under typical intraocular pressures which then allow for its correct optical functionality. In this thesis, the basis of continuum solid mechanics and the finite element method are introduced. We use finite element modelling to simulate the extension of an effective-1d, linear-elastic bar, a cornea-like body governed by Poisson’s equation, and the deformation of a loaded, linear-elastic, cube. Preliminary results for the deformation of a simulated, linear-elastic, cornea have also been achieved using the finite element approach. Author Keywords: continuum solid mechanics, corneal biomechanics, finite element method, intraocular pressure
Through the eyes of the Ontario farmer
Dairy goat farming has become increasingly popular in recent years in Ontario. This qualitative study done by semi-structured interviews, examines the why and the wherefore of the opinions held by dairy goat farmers in Ontario in regards to sustainable agriculture. It was found that these farmers feel that sustainable agriculture is important. These farmers believed their farms to be sustainable and have implemented sustainable farming practices that reflect these interests. Their primary interest is to maintain their farmland for the use of future generations as well as maintaining the economic and environmental sustainability of their farms. There is currently a lack of scientific information available for dairy goat farmers in Ontario. Challenges presented by the participants should be researched so as to better serve this budding industry which may become one of the most sustainable livestock industries in Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, dairy goat, farmer opinion, farming, sustainability, sustainable agriculture
Modelling Depressive Symptoms in Emerging Adulthood
Depression during the transition into adulthood is a growing mental health concern, with overwhelming evidence linking the developmental risk for depressive symptoms with maternal depression. In addition, there is a lack of research on the protective role of socioemotional competencies in this context. This study examines independent and joint effects of maternal depression and trait emotional intelligence (TEI) on the longitudinal trajectory of depressive symptoms during emerging adulthood. A series of latent growth models was applied to three biennial cycles of data from a nationally representative sample (N=933) from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. We assessed the trajectory of self-reported depressive symptoms from age 20 to 24 years, as well as whether it was moderated by maternal depression at age 10 to 11 and TEI at age 20, separately by gender. The results indicated that mean levels of depression declined during the emerging adulthood in females, but remained relatively stable in males. Maternal depressive symptoms significantly positively predicted depressive symptoms across the entire emerging adulthood in females, but only at age 20-21 for males. In addition, likelihood of developing depressive symptoms was attenuated by higher global TEI in both females and males, and additionally by higher interpersonal skills in males. Our findings suggest that interventions for depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood should consider development of socioemotional competencies. Author Keywords: Depression, Depressive Symptoms, Emerging Adulthood, Intergenerational Risk, Longitudinal, Trait Emotional Intelligence


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