Professor MacDowell’s research interests are in the Canadian working class and Northern American environmental history. She teaches a graduate course in comparative North American environmental history, and is the author of `RememberKirklandLake‘: The Gold Miners’ Strike 1941-2 (1983) (2nd edition 2001), and Renegade Lawyer: The Life of J.L. Cohen (2001), winner of the Chalmers Award from the Champlain Society. Her articles include “Relief Camp Workers in Ontario During the Great Depression of the 1930s”, CHR (June 1995), “Greening the Workplace: Unions and the Environment” in L.A. Sandberg and S. Sibir eds. Sustainability: The Challenge (1998) and “Company Unionism in Canada 1919-48” in B. Kauffman and D. Taras eds., Non-Union Representation: History, Contemporary Practice and Policy (2001). She is currently working on an environmental history of Canada.
- An Environmental History of Canada. (UBC Press : 2012)
- Renegade Lawyer: The Life of J.L. Cohen. (University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division : 2001)
- Remember Kirkland Lake: The Gold Miners’ Strike 1941-42. ( University of Toronto Press: 1983)
- Canadian Working-Class History, 3rd Edition. (Canadian Scholars' Press Inc.: 2006)
- Nuclear Portraits: Communities, the Environment, and Public Policy. (University of Toronto Press: 2017)