As part of its mandate to promote and recognise excellence in historical research, the CHA awards a series of prizes.
Public History Prize - 2021
A Seat at the Table, Awakenings, Landscapes of Injustice
1. A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia
Photo credit: Rebecca Blissett
Category: Products and Projects
A co-production: Museum of Vancouver (MOV), University of British Columbia, Chinese Canadian Museum Society of BC
Co-curators: Denise Fong, Viviane Gosselin, Henry Yu
A Seat at the Table is two connected exhibitions exploring Chinese immigration in British Columbia. Located in the community and in a traditional exhibition space, the project explores Chinese migration from multiple viewpoints using voices and artifacts from the public. Based on deep research and extensive community consultation and collaboration, “A Seat at the Table” is accessible and engaging. Food is a key part of the story and provides a through line for both projects, which invites visitors to ‘take a seat’ and engage with home video, personal stories, artifacts and public art projects. The project strikes an effective balance between challenging histories of racism and discrimination, and stories of resilience and vibrant community life. Visitors are also invited to record their personal stories as or with Chinese Canadians, providing a connection to contemporary experiences and creating an oral history archive for future researchers. Combined, the mutli-modal storytelling, community partnerships and compelling 3-D experience make “A Seat at the Table” an exceptional exhibition experience.
A Portrait in Red, 2020. A film by Alexandra Lazarowich. Aerial shot by Andrew Williamson.
Umbereen Inayet and Cheryl Blackman, Awakenings, Toronto History Museums.
Awakenings a multimedia series from the City of Toronto Museums, using music, art and performance to explore under-represented histories. Delivered online, the ambitious project features artists, performers and historians ruminating on the inter-connected histories of Torontonians of different ethnocultural and class backgrounds. It shows how places and stories seemingly connected to White settler colonial histories, have erased the presence of racialized people. “Lanes,” a film by Karimah Zakia Issa” draws a connection between 19th-century publishers William Lyon Mackenzie and Mary Ann Shadd Cary. In the film, a contemporary activist moves through the Mackenzie King House in downtown Toronto, pulling Shadd Cary back into the narrative of rebellion and protest that is located at the historic site. Videos also explore histories of race and racism through explorations of food, identity, Indigeneity, place and culture. Awakenings succeeds as a public outreach project because it connects hidden histories to contemporary debates about race and colonialism, creatively engaging the public in a dialogue about past, present and future.
3. Landscapes of Injustice
Photo Credit: Michael Abe
Jordan Stanger-Ross, lead investigator & Michael Abe, project manager
Landscapes of Injustice is a multifaceted project about the history of displacement and dispossession of Japanese Canadians. The byproduct of an impressive partnership of academic and non-academic organizations and practitioners, Landscapes applies best academic public history research and dissemination practices to bear on the problem, identifying the scope of dispossession in hopes of helping Japanese Canadians recover from these losses. The project presents a series of blog posts and online content that connect archival material to living Canadians, showing how people continue to be touched by dispossession. Other outputs of the project include a museum exhibit, resources for educators, and an academic book. Combined, this is an excellent example of historians expanding the footprint of their research beyond traditional publications to publicly-engaged projects.
Business History Book Prize - 2021
Andrea Benoit, Viva M.A.C: AIDS, Fashion, and the Philanthropic Practices of M.A.C Cosmetics (University of Toronto Press, 2019).
Andrea Benoit’s VIVA MAC: AIDS, Fashion, and the Philanthropic Practices of MAC Cosmetics is a path-breaking narrative on the creation and impact of a pioneering Canadian firm. MˑAˑC Cosmetics began in Toronto as Make-up Arts Centre and was founded by Frank Toskan and Frank Angelo. Benoit’s book reveals how the “Franks” created an entirely new business model in the global cosmetics industry, including novel methods of retailing their products. Most crucially, she shows how MˑAˑC Cosmetics seamlessly integrated genuine corporate social responsibility into its business model through tireless support of AIDS charities and activism. Benoit’s analysis is based on extensive archival sources and is firmly situated in relevant secondary literature. Her book is a tremendous work of business, social, and cultural history that will inform the research of current and future Canadian historians.
Matthew Bellamy, Brewed in the North: A History of Labatt’s, Kingston and Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.
Matthew Bellamy’s Brewed in the North: A History of Labatt’s is an engaging and revealing study of the formation and development of a quintessentially Canadian company. John Labatt Limited was founded in London, Ontario as a family firm. It was shaped by wider social and economic trends such as Prohibition in the United States, and eventually became one of two dominant firms in the domestic brewing industry. Bellamy uses extensive archival materials to show how the company successfully evolved from being private and family-owned to becoming a publicly-traded firm. He also describes how globalization and consolidation of the global beer business ultimately impacted Labatt’s. Bellamy recounts the firm’s product and marketing successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses of management, and what it meant to work at Labatt’s. His book is a welcome addition to the existing Canadian business history literature and will guide historians who hope to undertake broad studies of other Canadian companies.
The Clio Prizes - 2021
Andrea Procter, Daniel Horner, Brittany Luby, L.K. Bertram, Doug Cass, Lara Campbell
Andrea Procter. A Long Journey: Residential Schools in Labrador and Newfoundland. St John’s, NL: ISER Books, 2020.
Andrea Procter’s remarkable book, A Long Journey: Residential Schools in Labrador and Newfoundland, and part of the province’s Healing and Commemoration project, is a model of engaged collaborative scholarship with the Inuit, NunatuKavut, and Innu nations of Labrador. Building on a longstanding cooperative relationship with Labradorians, Procter incorporates hundreds of hours of oral history, much of it collected by the project, and some from published accounts. She skillfully combined them with extensive archival research, particularly in the records of The International Grenfell Association, which administered three residential schools in St. Anthony, Cartwright, and North West River for the NunatuKavut, and in the records of the Moravian Church of Labrador, which administered residential schools in Makkovik and Nain for the Inuit. Her efforts yielded a book that captures diverse points of view and individual experiences of former students. Each residential school had its own history, particularly among the Moravians, who first built schools in northern Labrador in the eighteenth century.
Proctor’s commitment to listening to former students makes this book come alive with their individual voices as they tell of cruelty and kindness, work and fellowship. Dozens of photographs, many from Them Days Archive in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, convey the outsized role these educational institutions in Labrador. Procter’s efforts of inclusivity provide a respectful representation of her informants as children at the schools and as adults making sense of life defining experiences. The book’s extensive archival research in Labrador, Newfoundland, Canada and further afield draws out the differences between the Moravians and the Grenfell Association in their approach to education. The Innu, many who were Catholics or familiar with Catholicism, chose to send their children to the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, or to the Grenfell-run school at North West Arm. Sensitive to Indigenous traditions of child raising, this book will give readers an appreciation of the challenges and resilience of these Inuit, Innu, and NunatuKavut as they were subjected to a more punitive philosophy of education. While specifically about residential schools in Labrador and Newfoundland, this book is also evocative depiction of the Indigenous peoples of the province, particularly in their homelands in Labrador, and deserves a wider readership for the stories it tells and the nuances it expresses. It can also serve as an example for others who are committed to respectful collaborations that enable Indigenous peoples, in this case with diverse cultural perspectives, to convey their understandings of their own lives in a way that models rigorous collaborative scholarship.
Daniel Horner, Taking it to the Streets. Crowds, Politics and the Urban experience in Mid-Nineteenth Century Montreal. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020.
Dan Horner's book has merit in many ways. First, through his renewed approach to known and lesser-known archival sources, he shows us how these documents reflect the political sensibilities of the time. Second, by placing the street as a political and cultural space, he inserts into the very fabric of the city the expression and negotiation of the diverse perceptions of the time. The street thus becomes the anchor in Montreal space for the manifestations of the social issues that these interactions reflect. Finally, his reflections also contribute, through his renewed approach, to a better understanding of the role of violence in this crucial decade for the transition to the modern liberal state, the 1840s. In short, he allows us to grasp the spirit of a movement, the spirit of a time.
Brittany Luby. Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2020.
In this important and compelling work, historian Brittany Luby invites the reader to look out from the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe territory centred on the Winnipeg River and Lake of the Woods. She insists that we reconsider narratives of postwar Canadian development and prosperity, that we treat as peripheral the settler colonial newcomers who viewed the region as a resource to be exploited, and as central the Anishinabeg who treated the natural world -- and tried to treat the newcomers -- as partners in sustaining their homeland in the present and for future generations. In a series of chapters that draw on and deftly handle oral and written archives, the book explores the “cascading” impacts of hydroelectric development on a community that lived both upriver and downriver of dams, which over a century narrowed the possibilities for sustaining livelihoods and life there. Throughout, Luby describes disruptions that become obvious when we view this history, as Luby insists we must, with our feet firmly planted on and in relationship to Niisaachewan Anishinaabe territory. As importantly, Luby keeps the reader focused on the multiple responses of Anishinaabe men and women to these disruptions – their adaptive family survival strategies, efforts to work with non-Indigenous newcomers and their institutions, and diverse forms of resistance. Dammed tells an important story of a century of creative responses – some thwarted and undermined by an indifferent and exploitative settler colonial society – and, in doing so, commemorates the strength of the Niisachewan Anishinaabe Nation.
L. K. Bertram, The Viking Immigrants: Icelandic North Americans. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020.
Viking Immigrants explores the “three-dimensional” cultural history of Icelandic Immigrants to North America, most of whom settled on the Canadian prairies in the last quarter of the 19th century and connected to other Icelandic immigrant communities throughout Canada and the United States. The immigrants crafted a new identity in an effort to fit into their new North American communities, employing heroic Viking imagery and Scandinavian racial compatibility to deflect anti-immigrant status. The resulting everyday culture of cake, coffee, ghost stories, and Viking statues was, to quote a novelty button from Gimli, “made in Canada with Icelandic parts.” The book explores in particular the gendered nature of migration and makes substantial contributions to clothing and food history, leaving readers with images of the wonderful striped torte known as vinetarta and the frustrating and funny search all over Iceland for the famous cake that cannot be found.
Author L. K. Bertram extensively researched documentary sources in both Icelandic and English, as well as material culture, utilizing methods in social history and ethnography to explore the multi-sensory world of Icelandic immigrants and their descendants. Engagingly written, the book charts new paths in cultural, immigration, and cross-border histories, opening conversations with home communities. Viking Immigrants helps us understand the construction of prairies communities which worked alongside and yet distinguished themselves from neighbouring First Nations, other immigrant communities, and Anglophone elites. It transcends the categories of prairie, gender, ethnicity, and class to offer a very compelling, multifaceted analysis of the experience of being Icelandic in Canada.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Doug Cass, Glenbow Archives
Many historians acknowledge the Glenbow as their favourite archive. Doug Cass had a lot to do with creating a warm and welcoming environment. He was genuinely interested in what researchers were working on and was always helpful in ferreting out sources that enriched and expanded our work. His knowledge of the collections was unparalleled. One hour with Doug was worth a full day’s work in another archives. Over many decades, he has advised researchers working in a diverse range of fields, including histories of petroleum, labour and the working class, Indigenous peoples, the North-West Mounted Police, farming, ranching, politics, railroads, women and gender, and many more. We thank him for his energetic acquisition of manuscripts, photographs, and other archival records that made the Glenbow such an extraordinary place for researching Western Canada. As the library hours were curtailed and staff budgets threatened, Doug maintained professional advocacy for the library and archives, and for the inherent connections among all the collections. We will miss him, and the Glenbow, but we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement and hope his legacy is carried on in the new University of Calgary setting.
Lara Campbell, A Great Revolutionary Wave: Women and the Vote in British Columbia. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2020)
A Great Revolutionary Wave is an engaging, richly textured analysis of women’s struggles for political equality in British Columbia that reshapes our understanding of women’s suffrage movements in that province while also deepening its political, social, and gender historiography. Campbell convincingly dispels the notion that women’s suffrage campaigns in BC were exclusively driven by white, middle-class reformers by highlighting the contributions of working-class, racially marginalized, socialist, and conservative individuals and groups. And by “extending suffrage” beyond 1917 (when many but not all BC women were first granted the vote) she astutely demonstrates that women’s rights varied in critical ways due to exclusionary race- and ethnicity-based government policies. Throughout, Campbell remains impressively sensitive to nuances of region and place, showing how women’s political activism for the vote and other rights was influenced by similar movements elsewhere in the world but was not merely a reproduction of them, and took shape differently in communities across BC.
The Clio-North prize was not awarded this year.
The John Bullen Prize - 2021
Bocar Niang’s study of mass broadcasting is an important reflection on the dominant role of this medium in the construction of state authority and the official ideology of negritude in the history of Senegal and of West Africa. From the introduction of the radio in 1939 by France, through the period of independence, until the 1970s when African socialism developed, radio has been an essential strategic tool in the development of political life in the country and in the affirmation of the authority of the existing power. However, as Niang demonstrates in the case of Senegal, propaganda has a particular trajectory and has undergone significant transformations. In the postcolonial context, where the official ideology favours orality and the use of national languages, the role of radio goes beyond propaganda, and Niang convincingly demonstrates that radio had several functions in the formation of public opinion.
Through a detailed study of the sound archives of Radio-Television of Senegal (RTS), of the archives of the Association colonies-sciences at the National Library of France, of several newspapers, and with the help of numerous oral interviews conducted with former hosts of the first French African radio station, Niang offers a new perspective on the role played by the media in postcolonial politics. His intervention in the history of negritude offers an innovative perspective on the development of postcolonial ideology and on the cultural revolution of black Africa. His thesis is stimulating and provocative in several ways. Situated in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, this thesis demonstrates the important intersectionality of political, cultural and intellectual criticism in rejecting and contesting cultural assimilation.
This clearly written thesis makes an important contribution to the historiography of Senegal and French Africa as well as to postcolonial studies. It is an exceptional model of a thesis and was thus considered the most deserving PhD dissertation for the John Bullen Prize in 2020.
The CHA Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize - 2021
In Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, Brittany Luby offers a vivid and timely illustration of the embodied legacies of settler colonialism on the bodies, lands, and lives of Indigenous peoples. Her analysis of the Treaty 3 region in Northwestern Ontario centres an area usually treated as peripheral in both official decision-making and historical scholarship, and the resulting portrait of postwar hydroelectric development powerfully challenges the dominant narrative of universal post-Second World War prosperity in Canada. The book is engaging and accessibly-written, draws on deep and wide research in both oral and written sources, and makes important contributions to environmental history, women’s history, and Indigenous Studies. Along the way, Luby reveals the many ways in which the Anishinabeg of Dalles 38C Indian Reserve (who supported this research) saw their own ability to economically thrive persistently undermined by efforts designed to boost the prosperity of non-Indigenous people elsewhere in the region. As Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation chief, Lorraine Cobiness, writes in the foreword: “When we teach history, we build common ground for the process of reconciliation.” For this reason, Dammed not only represents exemplary scholarship, but deserves to be read and meditated on by audiences well beyond the historical community.
Heidi Bohaker, Doodem and Council Fire, Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance (University of Toronto Press for The Osgoode Society, 2020)
Paul-André Dubois, Lire et écrire chez les Amérindiens de la Nouvelle-France (Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2020)
Patrizia Gentile, Queen of the Maple Leaf: Beauty Contests and Settler Femininity (UBC Press, 2020)
Eric W. Sager, Inequality in Canada: The History and Politics of an Idea (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020)
The Indigenous History Book Prize - 2021
Brittany Luby, Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory. University of Manitoba Press, 2020.
Looking out from Anishinaabe territory, Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory is an insightful and illuminating examination of Canada’s hydroelectric boom of the 20th century. Taking place in Treaty 3 territory, Brittany Luby shows us that the postwar affluence of non-Indigenous Canadians relied on the exploitation of Indigenous resources, such as water and hydroelectricity. Focusing on the Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation (also known as Dalles 38C First Nation), located between the Norman Dam and the Whitedog Falls generating station, she demonstrates that the much celebrated post-war development and economic growth experienced by many non-Indigenous Canadians resulted in a precipitous decline in living standards on reserve. Intended to serve the priorities of the settler populations and economy, governments and developers did not consult Anishinaabe peoples, the caretakers of the surrounding waters and lands. The hydroelectric stations destroyed Indigenous economies, health, and relations to the territory. The hydroelectric projects changed water levels and ecologies, diminished fish and manomin (both resources and relatives to Anishinaabeg), and allowed for methylmercury to be released into the river.
Luby draws extensively on oral histories, archival documents, and environmental observation. As recommended by the Elders of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation, she uses the Indigenous methodology of “presence-ing” – being in the place and developing relationships with all beings, including flora, fauna, and people. She illustrates how the Anishinaabeg did not have a singular response to the colonization of their homes and traces how they adapted to, cooperated with, and passively resisted non-Indigenous occupation through individual, family, and community strategies. Her nuanced portrayal of Indigenous resistance to hydroelectric development is a powerful call for all non-Indigenous peoples living in the geographic area that has come to be known as Canada to reflect on the continued benefits drawn from past and present dispossession, and serves as a lesson for future generations about the value of their homes and how to navigate changing futures.
The CHA Journal Prize ( The best article from #1 and #2 issues) - 2021
Cheryl Thompson, “Black Minstrelsy on Canadian Stages: Nostalgia for Plantation Slavery in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.”
The CHA Journal Prize is awarded for an article from the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association that presents rigorous research in an accessible academic form to make a significant contribution to the understanding of history. The winner of the 2021 CHA Journal Prize is Cheryl Thompson, for “Black Minstrelsy on Canadian Stages: Nostalgia for Plantation Slavery in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.” With its examination of Black actors performing in minstrel shows, this article provides a new way to think about anti-Black racism and xenophobia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Reviewers and editors commented on the “rich and robust” research with primary sources, and found that it will make an excellent contribution to Black studies, cultural history, and performance histories.
Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity and Transnationalism Article Prize - 2021
Christopher Crocker, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Vínland: History, Whiteness, Indigenous Erasure, and the Early Norse Presence in Newfoundland,” Canadian Journal of History vol. 55, 102 (2020): 91-122.
The brief Norse presence in Newfoundland has led to many economic opportunities within provincial tourism and cultural heritage industries but has also served to uphold harmful and outdated colonial traditions concerning the area’s Indigenous peoples, cultures, and histories. Christopher Crocker challenges these longstanding interpretations and asserts that they have obfuscated, decontextualized, and misrepresented Newfoundland’s Indigenous histories. In the process his research provides an important example of public history and scholarly advocacy that blends colonial discourse theory and Indigenous scholarship to decolonize the early Norse presence in Newfoundland. Crocker convincingly urges a reconsideration of this narrative with the re-insertion of the Indigenous presence and a call to rectify a harmful traditional colonial narrative.
Best Article Prize in Labour History - 2021
David Thompson, “’More Sugar, Less Salt’: Edith Hancox and the Passionate Mobilization of the Dispossessed, 1919-1928,” Labour/Le Travail, 85 (Spring 2020): 127-163.
Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and conceptually imaginative, David Thompson’s detailed reconstruction of the origins and activism of Winnipeg’s Edith Hancox is a major accomplishment. In addressing the only woman known to have spoken before the massive Labor Church congregations meeting during the Winnipeg General Strike, Thompson adds a new dimension to that well-studied event in Canadian working-class studies. He reveals how Hancox’s socialist feminism complicates our understandings of both socialist organization and women’s particular contribution to struggles of the dispossessed in the 1920s. Recovering a long-obscured history, Thompson’s account is a testimony to how diligent research and imaginative interpretation can infuse new meaning into the subject of labour history.
The Hilda Neatby Prize - English Article - 2021
David Thompson, "More Sugar, Less Salt: Edith Hancox and the Passionate Mobilization of the Dispossessed, 1919–1928" Labour/Le Travail 85 (2020): 127-163. https://doi.org/10.1353/llt.2020.0005
Little is known about the women who contributed to Winnipeg’s early twentieth-century labour movement. David Thompson’s “More Sugar, Less Salt” intervenes by providing a fascinating analysis of one of the city’s most prolific labour activists: Edith Hancox. Motivated by personal experience and political conviction, Hancox challenged the capitalist patriarchy in Winnipeg throughout the decade following the General Strike by organizing demonstrations, making public speeches, writing articles and letters, and performing essential but undervalued emotional labour. Drawing from her writing as well as from archival, government, and family records, Thompson explains how a radical motherhood approach shaped Hancox’s social justice work.
The Indigenous History Best Article Prize - 2021
Dean M. Jacobs & Victor P. Lytwyn
Dean M. Jacobs and Victor P. Lytwyn, “Naagan ge bezhig emkwaan: A Dish with One Spoon Reconsidered”. Ontario History, Volume 112, Issue 2, Fall 2020, p. 191–210.
In “Naagan ge bezhig emkwaan: A Dish with One Spoon Reconsidered” Victor P. Lytwyn and Dean M. Jacobs reveal how land acknowledgements premised on faulty historical understandings of Indigenous land relationships serve to undermine contemporary Indigenous land rights and sovereignty. Rigorously sourced and expansive in historical scope, this article contributes both to Anishinaabe political and diplomatic histories, as well as to vital contemporary questions around the potentially negative implications of land acknowledgements. The authors provide a thoroughly researched example of the importance of understanding the grounded specificities of Indigenous treaties as international agreements that regulate and enact sovereign decision-making over territory, both historically and in the present. In this way, the award-winning article affirms the historical importance and long-standing realities of Indigenous governance and ways of relating to the land as well as other nations.
Best Book in Political History Prize - 2021
Heidi Bohaker, Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance. Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, 2020.
In Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance through Alliance, Heidi Bohaker draws on a diverse and fragmented source base to produce a fascinating and original account of the principles and system of Anishinaabe governance dating to time immemorial and which also informed Anishinaabe responses to an evolving imperial/settler order. She uses what at first seem unassuming, if not marginal figures—doodem images—as a means to unfold the fundamentally different ontological premises that guide Anishinaabe peoples’ interactions with human and other-than-human beings, and explores the distinctive, yet also fluid political geometries that have characterized their social and legal relations over time. She demonstrates, convincingly, that there can be no reconciliation, let alone decolonization, in what is currently Canada without an accurate understanding of Anishinaabe peoples and other Indigenous Peoples and societies on their own terms. This book is a model for how settler scholars can and should conduct research into Indigenous histories—slowly and humbly, for settlers have much to unlearn that they have been taught, subconsciously as well as consciously, and that takes time and self-reflection; and always in conversation and collaboration with Indigenous people and communities. More broadly, this book is a model of how to write history that matters in the present and that can help fashion better futures for everyone in Canada. It reminds us that overlooking “small” things like doodem is perilous, for they contain multitudes—entire universes of meanings and relations—within them.
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