These annual awards are given for meritorious publications or for exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations to regional history.
The 2019 competition is now closed. The laureate(s) will be announced at the CHA's Annual Meeting at UBC on Tuesday, 4 June 2019.
Jeffers Lennox, Homelands and Empires: Indigenous Spaces, Imperial Fictions, and Competition for Territory in Northeastern North America, 1690-1763. University of Toronto Press, 2017.
Homelands and Empires offers a richly detailed and methodologically innovative account of the struggle to define and control the territory we now envision as “Atlantic Canada.” Exploring the power inherent to both space and the mapping of it, the book engages with the long-term environmental and political consequences of European imperial rivalries. Significantly, Lennox explores, with insight and balance, how those rivalries clashed with Indigenous understandings of space, movement, history and homeland.
Matthew Barlow. Griffintown. Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017.
This very unique book focuses not only on the history of Montreal's Griffintown working-class neighborhood - from its birth in the mid-19th century to its reconfiguration at the dawn of the 21st century, to its virtual disappearance after the Second World War world, but especially to the memory that was built by the Irish people who inhabited it. While using a wide variety of sources, both written and oral, and using several levels of analysis, Matthew Barlow shows that the close association of the Irish with this neighborhood, in spite of the fact that they have always been a minority there, illustrates a memory work that has been undertaken since the beginning of the twentieth century and has continued to this day and even intensified over time, according to the events that have marked the sociopolitical history of Ireland, but also that of Quebec. This fascinating study allows us to see how this memory emerged, how it has survived and how and why this memory continues to feed Griffintown's almost mythical vision. In doing so, Barlow's work offers a truly unique portrait of the life of this neighborhood and of its long-term residents, and in many respects reintroduces the history of the working class and it will certainly make its mark.
Susan M. Hill, The Clay We are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River. University of Manitoba Press, 2017.
Susan Hill’s The Clay We Are Made Of is an innovative and complex history of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Confederacy and its relationship to the land it continues to call home on both sides of the Canadian-American border. Grounded in the key epics at the roots of Haudenosaunee history, Hill weaves a retelling of their story from its origins, through European contact, to present-day land claims disputes by deftly employing a wide array of Indigenous and settler sources and approaches. Hill’s clear and compelling narrative tells a story not just of dispossession but also of community resilience. As such, Hill’s study has resonance not only for the current climate of reconciliation, but it will be a model for community-based Indigenous histories for years to come.
Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton. Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2017.
In this innovative history of psychiatric care, Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton trace the story of the Weyburn Mental Hospital, from its genesis as a showcase ‘total institution’ through to its decline and closure as treatment of the mentally ill shifted to community-based care. Their study provides a rich and nuanced analysis of the Saskatchewan context, while also connecting the province to broader national and international developments in psychiatric care. The authors demonstrate the influence of the hospital’s leaders well beyond the province’s borders in mental health research and in shaping government policy, while always paying close attention to the voices of the patients themselves. Documenting Saskatchewan’s early commitment to deinstitutionalization, Dyck and Deighton also document a legacy of struggle and unrealized promise in mental health reform. Deftly integrating a range of methods, sources and collaborative scholarship, Dyck and Deighton write with passion, commitment, and respect for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness.
Lynne Marks. Infidels and the Damn Churches: Irreligion and Religion in Settler British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017.
Lynne Marks’ strikingly original study addresses a major gap in British Columbia’s historiography in her exploration of the contours of religious belief and participation—but more centrally, its relative absence—in the province. The term “irreligion” captures a range of beliefs and practices, from mere indifference to religion to avowed atheism. British Columbia is now, as it has been throughout its settler history, exceptional in its rates of irreligion. Marks offers a thorough analysis of the conditions for this cultural distinctiveness, rooted in its class, race and gender peculiarities. She thus helps us to understand a previously unexplored dimension of “the west beyond the west.”
The BC Clio Prize committee is pleased to honour Cole Harris (Professor Emeritus, Geography, UBC) with a lifetime achievement award. A member of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada, Harris authored a series of award-winning articles and books on colonialism and geographical change (most notably, The Resettlement of British Columbia  and Making Native Space ) that set the historiography of the Pacific Northwest on a new path. A central theme that runs through all of Harris’s work is the displacement of Indigenous peoples (and land) that occurred with the colonial “resettlement” project. His forthcoming book, Ranch in the Slocan (a history of homesteading in BC’s Slocan Valley), is due to appear in the spring of 2018.
Joan Sangster. The Iconic North: Cultural Constructs of Aboriginal Life in Postwar Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017.
In The Iconic North, Joan Sangster directs the reader toward marginalised experiences of the Arctic, chiefly those of Indigenous and settler women. In doing so, she engages the “Idea of North” in fresh and necessary ways. Revisiting the well-known archives of Canadiana, Sangster concentrates on the postwar period to contrast colonial constructions of Northern peoples with an Arctic modernity that is actively shaped by women. Crisscrossed by racism and inequality, the affirmation of this modernity is by no means harmonious. But there are alliances and mutual empowerment between Indigenous and settler women, as well as between women and men. Placing gender at the forefront of historical scholarship, The Iconic North shows its tremendous potential for filling gaps in Arctic history. Given the key strategic importance of the region – for geopolitical reasons and for Indigenous resurgence – this book makes an impressive contribution.
Ronald Rudin, Kouchibouguac: Removal, Resistance, and Remembrance at a Canadian National Park. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016.
Ronald Rudin’s exceptional narrative skills draw the reader into the story of the largest forced removal of people – and one of the last – to create a national park. Most of the 1200 people removed to create Kouchibouguac National Park in northeastern New Brunswick were Acadian, and resistance to this ‘second deportation’ was strong and dynamic. In addition to his extensive archival work, Rudin conducted dozens of interviews to illuminate the community networks and sustainable livelihoods that were displaced by federal and provincial governments who mistook economic pluralism for abject poverty. Kouchibouguac is a significant study of the hubris of the interventionist state.
Sean Mills, A Place in the Sun. Haiti, Haitians, and the Remaking of Quebec. Montréal/Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016.
A Place in the Sun stands out as an original work with a true transnational perspective. This history of the relation between Haitians and Québécois is a historiographic milestone because it brings a new approach to the study of ethnic communities. The author does not stop at the causes of immigration, the number of migrants and the formation of institutions by the immigrant community. While demonstrating an exceptional mastery of historical and historiographical contexts, he succeeds in integrating representations, intellectual trends and popular movements, all while respecting individuals and groups, regardless of race, gender or class. Sean Mills easily presents a complex history and tells a captivating account through a well woven narrative. Through the finesse of his analysis and the power of storytelling, we can feel a Haitian community's life and its ties with Québec society.
Nancy Bouchier and Ken Cruikshank, The People and the Bay: A Social and Environmental History of Hamilton Harbour. UBC Press, 2016.
Through extensive research and convincing analysis, The People and the Bay is a finely nuanced study of Hamiltonians' complicated relationship with their harbour over the past two centuries. With firm roots in environmental and social history, Bouchier and Cruickshank explore the shifting ways that Hamiltonians came to understand their relationship with the waterfront and to negotiate and often to contest the manner in which it would be engaged, exploited, and managed. The authors have provided historians concerned with issues such as the shifting patterns of work and play, the impact of industrialization, and the management of environmental concerns, a valuable resource for years to come.
Sarah Carter, Imperial Plots: Women, Land, and the Spadework of British Colonialism on the Canadian Prairies. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2016.
Putting Indigenous and settler women farmers at the centre of the history of homesteading, Sarah Carter’s Imperial Plots compels us to reconsider the economic development of the prairie west. Beginning with Indigenous Plains women agriculturalists, Carter explains how gendered and racialized ideas excluded these first farmers from holding property. British women who campaigned for the right to own land in their own names were no less implicated than settler men in the dispossession of Indigenous territories. Entrenched ideas about male property ownership thwarted campaigns to change homestead laws and women who purchased land struggled for recognition, respect, and survival as farmers. Weaving together the histories of colonialism, imperialism, and gender relations, Carter puts homesteading history into its larger transnational context. This book helps us understand why women still struggle to be recognized as farmers. The survival of Indigenous farming techniques demonstrates the continuing importance of women’s agricultural work.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Clio Prairie Committee is pleased to honour Dr. Jennifer Brown with this Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Winnipeg, Member of the Royal Society of Canada, Canada Research Chair (Tier I) from 2004 – 2011, Professor Brown has made outstanding contributions to our knowledge of Rupert’s Land and offered scholars significant insights into our knowledge of the Prairie West. Her path-breaking work on fur trade families brought women to the centre of our understanding of the fur trade society. She is the author and editor of fourteen books that have advanced our knowledge of Métis society and Indigenous-settler relations. She served as the Director of The Centre for Rupert’s Land Studies for fifteen years, where she fostered relationships among researchers, archivists, and those interested in the history of the peoples of the Hudson’s Bay watershed. Her exceptional record of publication and her commitment to engaging the public in the continuing relevancy of the history of the Prairie West make her a worthy recipient of this award.
Aaron Chapman, The Last Gang in Town: The Epic Story of the Vancouver Police vs. the Clark Park Gang Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016.
Aaron Chapman’s Last Gang in Town explores a dramatic chapter in the history of Vancouver. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the notorious Clark Park Gang created havoc across the city. By means of scrupulous archival research and extensive interviews with gang alumni and former VPD members, Chapman pulls back the blinds on life in East Van at a time when it was heavily blue-collar and poor. As histories of the 1960s and ‘70s multiply, Chapman offers original and even-handed insights into aspects of youth, crime, and policing that might otherwise escape scrutiny.
Lifetime Achievement Award
For thirty-seven years until his retirement in 2011, Dan Savard curated the Royal British Columbia Museum’s photographic collection – an assemblage of tintypes, stereographs, glass negatives, lantern slides, picture postcards, modern transparencies, amateur snapshots, and professional photographs and film. He infused historical and ethnographic depth into the collection and shared his knowledge generously with scholars, students, and others over the years. He gained a public profile through lively public lectures on hidden facets of the collection. For Savard, photographic materials are rich and exciting sources of insight on the physical and cultural landscape, insight that is often missing in textual sources. He spent his life studying the region’s historiography as a way to better understand the photographs, photographers, and the early photographic technology, along with its transport (in backpacks, saddlebags, and in stagecoach holds). Savard’s book, Images from the Likeness House (2010), explored the relationships between photographers and the Indigenous peoples of Washington State, British Columbia and Alaska between 1860 and 1930 was awarded the Roderick Haig-Brown Book Prize in 2011.
The prize was not attributed this year
Raymond B. Blake, Lions or Jellyfish: Newfoundland-Ottawa Relations since 1957. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.
Lions or Jellyfish is a polished investigation of the often-strained relationship between Ottawa and Newfoundland and Labrador. While many elements of this story are well known, Raymond Blake brings a sophisticated analysis and a well-constructed narrative.
As Blake shows, Confederation has never been a comfortable fit for the province. Public and impassioned intergovernmental disputes – over federal transfers, management of the fishery, oil and gas revenues, and constitutional renewal – have fanned the fires of Newfoundland nationalism over the last six decades. Blake’s accounts of these confrontations are detailed and compelling, and reflect considerable research in governmental and private papers.
Any analysis of intergovernmental relations must discuss the personalities of political leaders but Blake goes beyond mere personalities, as colourful as they often were. He delves into the economics, the contemporary political ideas and culture and the bureaucracy that constrained provincial and federal politicians’ choices. Despite this, Blake allows us to still savour the nasty squabbles between John Diefenbaker and Joey Smallwood, between Brian Peckford and Pierre Trudeau and, most recently, between Danny Williams and Stephen Harper.
Lions or Jellyfish makes an important contribution to the history of Canadian federalism, and makes us wonder, why more has not been written about Newfoundland’s sometimes acrimonious, colourful, and contested relationships with Ottawa.
Amélie Bourbeau, Techniciens de l'organisation sociale. La réorganisation de l’assistance catholique privée à Montréal (1930-1974). Montréal/Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015.
This book is of significant importance to the historiography of charity and assistance in Quebec in the twentieth century. Not only does it shed light on the origin, formation and inner workings of two Catholic financial federations (French and English) established in the 1930s in Montreal but, going beyond a strict institutional history, it seeks to understand the various processes (bureaucratization, professionalization, secularization and nationalization) that explain the evolution of charity practice between the 1930s and the early 1970s. Much more than a simple review of the organizational structure of both federations, the book highlights the issues that were at the heart of their creation, their development and their transformation. In doing so, Bourbeau has shown that efforts to streamline the field of charity, if it did indeed lead to the emergence of the welfare state, was a phenomenon that was far from linear; on the contrary, it was marked by a lot of tensions and conflicts permeating all Catholic networks in Montreal, including executives as well as beneficiaries, reflecting the balance of power in both communities. This original research based on a range of public and private archives, written and oral is characterized by its intellectual scope and attention to nuance that will soon make this book a fundamental reference for a broad spectrum of studies involving this period and the rich themes analyzed in it.
Craig Heron, Lunch Bucket Lives: Remaking the Worker's City. Between the Lines, 2015.
Lunch Bucket Lives is not only an impressive condensation of the last half century of social history, but a deeply respectful examination of the complex lives of Hamiltonians as the city became Steeltown. Heron's unassailable command of both the primary and secondary literature permits a richly detailed discussion of working class lives on the job, at home, and in the community. In demonstrating how intersections of race, class, gender and ethnicity informed, nurtured, but also limited the responses of workers to the emergence of industrial capitalism, Lunch Bucket Lives attains an interpretive complexity that will challenge those familiar with its subject, period, and place. All in all, Lunch Bucket Lives is a study that equals the "Ambitious City" it seeks to document.
Michel Hogue, Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People. University of Regina Press, 2015.
Michel Hogue’s Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People is a remarkable book. Hogue has written the history of late nineteenth century borderlands diplomacy and state formation from an indigenous perspective. By following, in part, the story of Antoine Ouellette’s and Angelique Bottineau’s family, Metis and the Medicine Line offers both a captivating personal story and a new comparative analysis of the buffalo hunt, resistance, Métis-First Nations relations, colonization and the imposition of Canada and the United States onto the western plains.
Don Smith calls Hugh Dempsey “the dean of Alberta historians.” Author of 22 books, editor of 17 books and for 60 years of Alberta History, and archivist and curator at the Glenbow Foundation, Dempsey has played a pivotal role in preserving Alberta’s heritage. Throughout his career, Dempsey’s primary interest has been in the lives of interesting Albertans.
His marriage to Pauline Gladstone initiated his relationships with Treaty 7 First Nations. His close rapport with still-surviving elders provided him with exceptional entry into their oral traditions, which formed the basis of significant new insights into and biographies of First Nations people from their own voice. These works include *Crowfoot*, *Tom Three Persons*, *Big Bear*, and most recently *The Great Blackfoot Treaties*. Joining oral history with rigorous archival research, his widely read books have reshaped how we think about Alberta’s past. He has received many honors, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary and the Order of Canada. When he retired in 1991, the Glenbow made him chief curator emeritus and named the reading room of the Library and Archives after him. He is most proud of being inducted as an honorary chief of the Blood Nation and to receive the name Potaina, his wife’s grandfather’s name. Hugh Dempsey’s continuing commitment to preserving, researching, and writing history make him a deserving recipient of this Lifetime Achievement Award.
Emilie Cameron, Far Off Metal River: Inuit Lands, Settler Stories, and the Making of the Contemporary Arctic. UBC Press, 2015.
Emilie Cameron's Far Off Metal River examines the significance of one of the most (in)famous stories about the Canadian North. Cameron offers a sophisticated and nuanced examination of the long term historical significance of Samuel Hearne’s famous account of the 1771 massacre at Bloody Falls. Although debates over the veracity of Hearne’s account have raged since it was published in 1795, Cameron turns our attention to a more consequential question: the significance of Qablunaat (non-Inuit) uses of the massacre story from the time of its publication to the twenty-first century. Cameron explains that the massacre story matters—whether the actual event happened or not—because it has profoundly shaped the way outsiders have perceived and treated northern indigenous peoples, resource extraction, and aboriginal claims ever since it captured their attention. Based on a wide array of sources as varied as Hearne’s own writings, aboriginal memories, explorers’ journals, government documents, plays, poetry, and art, Far Off Metal River invites readers to consider the significance of a 250-year old story in entirely new ways.
Lisa Pasolli, Working Mothers and the Child Care Dilemma: A History of British Columbia’s Social Policy. UBC Press, 2015.
Lisa Pasolli’s study details British Columbian women’s efforts to secure and/or to provide child care for working mothers throughout the 20th century. She demonstrates that advocates and critics alike invoked concepts like ‘entitlement’ in their campaigns for, and against, child care. She demonstrates the ways in which social policy on this front has responded to labour market needs, mothers’ economic vulnerability, and child development philosophies. Pasolli examines 20th-century discourses about working women’s ability – and right – to access child care as part of a broader debate about which kinds of contributions to society are recognized and valued, and how. Pasolli engages in, and contributes to, our understanding of how “social citizenship” has been defined in ways that reward male contributions to the labour economy, and view men as the the chief providers and therefore the heads of their families. She explains how BC’s child care policy debates relate to efforts to redefine the terms of social citizenship in ways that recognize female contributions, whether as participants in the labour economy, or as managers of their homes and families. She cleverly turns on its head the question of who is deserving of state support by showing how the absence of affordable and accessible child care has worked to exclude women from the privileges of social citizenship.
Some of these concepts are deceptively simple. Working mothers demonstrated a strong work ethic and were celebrated in wartime, but were criticized for continuing their paid employment while raising children during peacetime. The provision of child care in times of high labour demand, then, becomes essentially a labour policy; its withdrawal during times of relative labour surplus constitutes a decision to privilege male breadwinner labour, while requiring women to commit to child-rearing and housekeeping as full-time unpaid occupations. With these gendered assumptions concerning women’s proper place in force, the working mother who demanded child care was constructed by her critics as “a problem.” If working mothers were understood to be pursuing careers to alleviate financial need (rather than to pursuing a vocation, or fulfilling a desire to work outside of the home), then the policy solution was to provide mothers’ allowances. Mothers’ allowances (and related social programs) were designed to subsidize women to such an extent they stayed out of the paid workforce, and could focus entirely on caring for their own children.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Over the course of his distinguished career, Robin Fisher has contributed in many ways to the study of British Columbia history and has carved out a reputation for scholarly diligence, careful analysis, crisp writing, and inspired thinking.
Tracing the routes taken nearly 200 years earlier by James Cook, Fisher left his native New Zealand to study at the University of British Columbia. In time, this research was captured in his landmark study and first monograph, Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890, which appeared in 1977, three years after he joined the Department of History at Simon Fraser University.
Contact and Conflict repositioned the west coast encounter as one in which Aboriginal agency offset the old imperial narrative of European exploration. Arguing that commerce in the Pacific Northwest was marked by Aboriginal strategies and priorities, separate agendas, and identifiable personalities who carefully shaped the terms of trade, Fisher identified the phenomenon of “mutual benefit” as a defining force in the study of the region’s past. Contact and Conflict remains one of the core texts on First Nations and British Columbian history. Fisher’s perspectives, arguments, and evidence have been challenged repeatedly yet the book has aged well. And whatever debate it continues to provoke demonstrates that it remains one of – perhaps the – single-most influential monographs ever written on the subject. That it first appeared in 1977, two years before the inaugural Clio Awards, means that it escaped the recognition from the CHA that it deserved.
Fisher’s subsequent monographs, contributions to BC Studies, and collaborative projects have furthered our understanding of British Columbia’s history. With Hugh Johnston, he co-edited Captain James Cook and His Times in 1979 and From Maps to Metaphors: The Pacific World of George Vancouver in 1993. He also worked with Jack Bumsted, editing An Account of a Voyage to the North West Coast of America in 1785 and 1786 in 1982 and with Ken Coates on Out of the Background: Readings on Canadian History, which has gone through two editions. Fisher was also a driving force between the unique department-wide collaboration on Pacific Province: A History of British Columbia, contributing an important update on his earlier work on contact and trade. His second major monograph, a biography of British Columbia’s “Little New Deal” Premier, Duff Pattullo of British Columbia, won honourable mention in the 1992 Clio Prize and still stands as exemplary historical biography and a major contribution to the literature on political history in British Columbia.
Fisher moved to Prince George in 1993 to build a History Department at the University of Northern British Columbia. As the founding Department Chair he played a pivotal role in assembling a team of scholars with strengths in northern and British Columbian studies. He remained active in teaching and researching the province’s history throughout this period, even after his promotion to the position of Dean. In 2002 he was recruited to the position of Dean of Arts at the University of Regina and three years later he became Vice-President Academic and Provost at Calgary’s Mount Royal College, shepherding it into university-status in 2009. Fisher’s continued support of Indigenous scholarship and students was manifest in his role in the building of the Iniskim Centre, for which he was honoured by Blackfoot elders and further recognized with a Niitsitapi name, Stum eek see yaan, prior to his retirement in 2013.
Fisher has taught thousands of undergraduates and supervised dozens of graduate students over the years. He has been a forceful advocate, as well, for the role of the public scholar and the need for academic historians to communicate their discoveries beyond the ivory towers. Fisher continues to pursue research, set a high standard as a writer, and engage publicly and collaboratively with the history of British Columbia, a path we celebrate with this 2016 Clio Award.
Gregory M.W. Kennedy, Something of a Peasant Paradise? Comparing Rural Societies in Acadie and the Loudunais, 1604-1755 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014).
Gregory Kennedy’s Something of a Peasant Paradise? is a significant achievement that will shift the historiography of Acadie and New France. The Acadians, descendants of a few hundred seventeenth-century French settlers, inhabited a borderlands colony that changed hands ten times between the British and French empires. Between 1755 and 1763, the British forcibly expelled about 10 000 Acadians from the Maritimes; most of the scattered Acadian communities maintained a distinct identity, and a nineteenth-century ‘renaissance’ entrenched a transnational, collective identity rooted in the colonial experience of their ancestors.
Previous historical assessments of the Acadians before the Deportation often speculated on the relative autonomy/oppression or wealth/poverty of the Acadians. Kennedy offers a perceptive comparison grounded in extensive research in French archives. He selects the canton of Loudun in the Poitou-Charentes region of France as his comparator for Acadie; this is an eminently reasonable selection, since a significant number of 17th-century Acadian colonists came from this region and it was a borderland in France’s 16th-century wars of religion. Though the Acadian archival inventory is rather skeletal, Kennedy has reconstructed quantitative and qualitative descriptions of the colony’s environment, economy, culture, familial patterns and community political structures as they relate to a contemporary French peasant community. He concludes that life in Acadie was probably less idyllic and more familiar to French peasants and seigneurs than many scholars have assumed.
This is not to say that Kennedy sees no difference between the Acadians and the Loudunais. Some recent scholarship on the formation of an Acadian identity has emphasized the Deportation as the formative experience, but Kennedy argues that the colonists forged a distinct, kin-based society in the unique environmental and political circumstances. In this, they were similar to the Canadiens, the Loudunais and other communities who were ‘subjects’ of France, but not yet ‘French’ in a nationalist sense. This will enable us to teach Acadian history as a holistic rather than a segmented reality. By reconnecting Acadie to the French Atlantic World and emphasizing tangible comparisons, Kennedy has opened the door to more comprehensive inquiries into the themes of change and continuity as formative forces. His conclusions will be widely discussed and inevitably challenged, but Gregory Kennedy has produced a valuable new perspective that will guide the conversation to follow.
Steven High, Oral History at the Crossroads. Sharing Life Stories of Survival and Displacement, Vancouver et Toronto, UBC Press, 2014.
Steven High and his team collected the life stories of Montrealers who have left their home countries because of war, genocide and other human rights violations. Shying away from the beaten path, they have chosen to share their researcher’s authority with the participants, blurring the traditional boundaries between them. Beyond gathering and rescuing memories, they build bridges between generations, cultural communities and between the latter and academics. They thus explore various uses of oral history and multiply its impact by multimedia broadcasts that rely on the performing arts and the posting of interviews online for example. Overall, Steven High gives an account of an impressive and amazing experimentation in oral history where all of the steps are scrutinized in a reflective process that redefines the potential and limitations of such investigations.
Jennifer Bonnell, Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of Toronto’s Don River Valley Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.
Residents of southern Ontario likely know the Don River Valley as the site of the Don Valley Parkway, also known as the Don Valley Parking Lot. Residents closer to the area itself know the Don as a polluted, un-navigable waterway which opens into Lake Ontario at a degraded post-industrial brownspace. Followers of GTA politics know it as the topic of much debate over urban and waterfront renewal. In Reclaiming the Don, Jennifer Bonnell unpacks the various meanings of the Don River Valley and different ways that it has been viewed and used across over two centuries of European settlement. This clearly written, exhaustively researched contribution to the region’s history tells a compelling story of the relationship between the river and the region through which it passes.
Like the Don River itself, Bonnell’s study ebbs and flows through several centuries of Ontario’s history. After discussing Indigenous communities’ uses of the river as an important resource before European contact, Bonnell traces the way “the Don” was reconceived by early Europeans such as John Graves and Catharine Simcoe, who framed it by the pastoral English ideal as a source of transportation and vitality, through its use as an outlet for sewage and industrial waste as the city around it expanded, and then to the many attempts to revitalize, reconstruct, and revision -- in essence reclaim -- the Don River, its valley, and estuary. It is a work of complexity and nuance, combining social, political, economic, and environmental history, using the Don River as a lens through which to tell the history of the region and its people.
PearlAnn Reichwein, Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906-1974. University of Alberta Press, 2014.
PearlAnn Reichwein’s Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906-1974 is a fantastic blend of leisure, environmental, and cultural history. Focusing on the Alpine Club of Canada, Professor Reichwein explores the ways the history of the club parallels and affected the development of the Rocky Mountain parks over the twentieth century. Covering topics ranging from the marketing of climbing equipment to organising opposition to hydro development in the park, she has written a book of broad appeal to twentieth century historians. In her conclusion she makes very powerful arguments about environmental history, climate change, and our relationship to nature and the mountains. The book is an exciting read and beautifully produced, integrating many images and side bars on a variety of topics, making it appealing to a broader audience than the academic market.
Dominique Clément, Equality Deferred: Sex Discrimination and British Columbia’s Human Rights State, 1953-84. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014.
With Equality Deferred, Dominique Clément has set a benchmark for human rights history in the province of British Columbia and a standard for the rest of the nation to match. This well-written and lively book will influence readers’ perceptions of human rights legislation. Clément effectively demonstrates how women (avowed feminist scholars and self-defined human rights workers as well as flight attendants, waitresses, mill workers and others) understood and applied developing human rights legislation to address sex discrimination.
Equality Deferred places individual women’s experiences and legal battles within the context of the human rights state. Clément demonstrates when and how human rights legislation was used to tackle gender inequality during a very active period of policy change and legal “innovations.”(15) However, the failure of the human rights state to address “systemic discrimination” is also acknowledged (13). That this era of dynamic policy innovation did not lead to an evenly applied progression to equal rights for all women is a key conclusion.
Clément also details how British Columbia’s application of human rights law differed from other provinces: specific contexts are significant. A case study approach illuminates local interpretations and applications of human rights legislation. The importance of Kathleen Ruff’s appointment as the first Director of the Human Rights Branch, and the contributions of the team of investigators she hired, exemplifies the importance of local and individual stories. Clément also indicates that BC’s labour force, provincial immigration rates, and the precedents set in sexual harassment and gay rights illustrate important regional differences in application of human rights law. He argues that British Columbia provides an ideal case study for the nation, because it was “the epicentre of a conflict on the nature and legitimacy of the human rights state.” (21)
Clément has written a historical monograph with sound research and an engaged sense of enquiry. Through excellent stories of individual women’s challenges to the law and by providing the context of the human rights state in a key period, he presents an image of some good intentions and some less than charitable notions, well mixed with politics and policy formation. Here we see, too, historical knowledge offered up as a call for action in the present. This is a compelling demonstration of what engaged historical scholarship can be.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The committee wishes to award this prize in recognition of Elsie Paul’s lifelong dedication to the stories and teachings of the Sliammon and to gratefully acknowledge her willingness to share her narrative with all of us. Ifhistorical knowledge is most valuable when it informs an active life in the present, Paul’s recollections are priceless for current and future generations of the Sliammon people and, indeed, all British Columbians. The committee feels that this recommendation is also a way for historians to respectfully acknowledge other First Nations elders and those authors who have contributed richly to the field (Harry Robinson’s collaboration with Wendy Wickwire, Julie Cruikshank’s work with Tlingit elders Angela Sidney, Kitty Smith, and Annie Ned, Robin and Jillian Ridington’swork with the Dunne-zaa, and Bridget Moran and Mary John’s collaboration on life at Lejac spring to mind, among other rich partnerships). Historians and anthropologists have helped bring oral histories to print but the dedication of the storytellers and their understanding of the value of their own histories make the endeavour possible.
In Written as I Remember It: Teachings (??ms ta?aw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder, Paige Raibmon and Harmony Johnson have deftly captured Paul’s knowledge and stories in written form, but she unreservedly remains the author. It is her voice that speaks on every page. Her determination to present her teachings and history within her own narrative framework makes her contributions extremely valuable and, in that regard, this book is much more than a biography. She wanted her teachings to be available to a wider audience. She was insistent about how her story would be told and preserved; she spent years speaking with scholars, journalists and relatives, hours in front of microphones, and many more hours reading and re-reading edited versions of her words. She consented to the process in order to preserve more than a memoir. As Raibmon noted, “Elsie is a serious storyteller….She takes the power of words seriously, and so tells stories in order to impart helpful, potentially healing, knowledge”. (4) The recent publication of Written as I Remember It: Teachings (??ms ta?aw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder is a culmination of a lifetime in service to the Sliammon history, language and culture and her valuable contributions to BC’s living history.
Ted Binnema, Enlightened Zeal: The Hudson's Bay Company and Scientific Networks, 1670-1870. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.
Enlightened Zeal examines the Hudson Bay Company's involvement in scientific work in arctic and subarctic Canada throughout the period of its commercial monopoly between 1670 and 1870. Science was an essential element of the HBC's work: it satisfied the ambitions and interests of its officers, contributed to the company's reputation, and influenced debate regarding the region's future. Drawing on extensive research in the archives and the published literature, Binnema's book enlarges our understanding of the practice and meaning of science during this period: its social contexts, its relation to exploration, its political consequences (not least for American and Canadian territorial expansion), and its role in cooperative relations between aboriginal people and the HBC. He also places his account in a wider scholarly context. Enlightened Zeal is a groundbreaking study of the history of science in a chartered monopoly. Further, by exploring the networks that linked HBC officers in North America with company directors and scientists in Britain and elsewhere, Binnema contributes to our understanding of how knowledge moved across the continent and the Atlantic, advancing a reconsideration of traditional narratives of centre and periphery in the history of science. His ambitious work will be essential to our understanding of both the history of northern Canada and the history of Canadian and imperial science.
Renée N. Lafferty,The Guardianship of Best Interests. Institutional Care for the Children of the Poor in Halifax, 1850-1960.
The public and private institutions that have played a role of guardian of the poor children of Halifax were guided by what they believed to be the "best interests of the child." On the other hand, their concept of what their “best interests” was remained vague. Renée N. Lafferty demonstrates in her excellent book, The Guardianship of Best Interests that this concept is very indicative of the changing perceptions towards children, social services and the professions working with children. Lafferty’s study examines the creation and management of institutions for poor children from the mid-19th century until their closure a
century later. These institutions are then abandoned in favor of a system of foster families promoted by the Children’s Aid Society.
Through a dynamic and interesting analysis, the author explores the interaction between these institutions and their environment throughout the period studied. The author notes that the institutions did not care about "saving" children from the worst conditions of poverty. The children had first to be made into "useful and responsible" citizens and thereby meet society’s expectations. To achieve these objectives, the children were separated according to age, gender, religion and race. Even though faced with chronic under-funding, these institutions nonetheless stated to be a
lways looking for the best professional methods of child care.
Lafferty’s article makes a significant contribution to Canadian historiography as it sheds new light on the evolution of social services for children. Previous studies argue that we have gone from an ineffective and often harmful network of institutions run by amateurs to a professional system for host families well supervised by specialists in social work. Lafferty questions this argument and demonstrates that the authorities in Halifax and Nova Scotia had long since developed an approach that combined foster families and care in institutions. In addition, these authorities supported services as well as public and private funding.
Mario Mimeault, L’exode québécois 1852-1925. Correspondance d’une famille dispersée en Amérique. Septentrion, 2013.
Through his original research, Mario Mimeault offers a new perspective on the Quebec exodus which will help us reflect upon the migration process. His main source of information, consisting of more than a thousand letters exchanged between 1852 and 1925, traces the migration experience of a French Canadian family of high social status dispersed throughout America. Carefully structured, the study examines several aspects of these exchanges and what they revea: the uses of letters, individual dreams and migrants adjusting to new realities, the family and the reconstruction of identity and sense of belonging in a family in transit. In particular, the author highlights the development, over generations, of a culture of migration within the family.
William Jenkins, Between Raid and Rebellion: the Irish in Buffalo and Toronto, 1867-1916. Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.
Using an innovative methodological approach which combines social historical methodology with historical geography, this book examines the lives and allegiances of Irish immigrants in Toronto and Buffalo in the period between the Fenian Raids and the 1916 Easter Uprising. Jenkins takes up the challenge of rendering the compelling allegiances of those communities intelligible through his examination of the transformations that took place over the politically-charged period of the narrative. The book is organized into two sections, both of which are grounded in a broad array of sources. In the first Jenkins examines the historical geography of the Irish immigrant experience in both Toronto and its American neighbor Buffalo, two rapidly growing cities that were both major destinations for Irish immigrants. In the second he provides an insightful analysis of the transformations and the ‘prevailing threads’ which run from the immigrants to their descendants. It is a work of remarkable complexity and it is firmly-rooted in the historical scholarship of both the Irish diaspora and Canadian and American politics. At one level, its insightful interpretations and its comparative structure add greatly to our understanding of a commonality of experience. More importantly, however, the subtlety and thoroughness of the argument and the skill of the author as a writer provide a richly nuanced study which accounts for national and transnational influences and for the power of geography as a vital historical determinant.
James W. Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. University of Regina Press, 2013.
James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains offers a sweeping overview of the health of North America’s indigenous plains societies from pre-contact times through to the end of the nineteenth century. It combines original research with a synthesis of much recent work. Daschuk’s capacity to draw from archaeology, as well as the fields of ethnohistory, historical climatology, biology, veterinarian science and human epidemiology develops a significant new understanding of the pre-history and territorial history of plains aboriginal people and their precipitous demographic losses in the period of colonization. The “clearing of the plains” according to Daschuk, can be traced to the earliest periods of the fur trade, particularly as trade routes, disease pathways and episodic, regional game depletion became more widespread after 1821. In doing so, he sustains the observation that colonial commercial empires linked by market economies transformed as much world ecologies as they did economies. In this case, the realities of people of the Northern Great Plains were changed before colonization began, when the biotic and market impacts of the fur trade significantly altered aboriginal presence, forced bands to reconstitute themselves in new territories, or face subsistence crises aggrieved by climate events and ecological changes. A key contribution of the book links such earlier changes to the territorial period. In a masterful re-examination of the 19th century, Dashuk shows how, as bison disappeared from the plains, the numbered treaties, and later, the construction of the CPR and the events surrounding the 1885 resistance constituted far darker episodes in Canadian history than many appreciate. Dashuk demonstrates that famine, so associated with the treaty and early reserve era, cannot be linked to merely the absence of food in the post-bison period. Plains people bore the shock of the bison crisis to strategize as best as they could through treaties and new agricultural pursuits. However, their worst health crises occurred as famine enveloped reserve life
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