CHA Prizes

The prize recognizes the best article in labour history.


2020 – Winner

  • Sonya Roy

    Sonya Roy. « Une catégorie de chômeurs à part : les cols blancs de Montréal, 1930-1935 », Labour/Le Travail 84 (automne 2019) : 107-140.

    Roy’s insightful and original study sheds light on a frequently neglected segment of the unemployed during the 1930s. Unemployed white-collar workers, studied here in Montréal, constituted a “new class of the poor” whose middle-class identity caused them to distance themselves from other workers who shared their economic plight. Roy’s intensive research in archival and newspaper sources explores the condition of this segment of the working class as well as their individual and collective responses. Her study highlights the conservative rhetoric that attempted to preserve distinctions of education and respectability and blamed other workers, particularly working women, for their economic dislocation. Roy's perceptive analysis encourages close consideration of the ways class and gender assumptions divided the working class in this period and also contributes to the continuing contemporary discourse concerning the historical significance of middle-class identities.

2019 – Winner

  • Robert Tremblay

    Robert Tremblay, “La grève générale des charpentiers-menuisiers de Montréal, 1833-1834 : réévaluation d’un acte fondateur autour du concept de légitimité” 

    Tremblay’s reassessment of the 1833-4 general strike of carpenters and joiners in Montreal shows that the issues at stake went beyond demands for a ten-hour day; rather, it was part of an ideological ‘war of position’ between workers committed to moral-economy traditions of mutuality and an encroaching liberal order.  Drawing on an impressive range of archival sources and situating this labour conflict in the contested politics of 1830s Lower Canada, Tremblay offers new insight into the nature of class struggle in this moment of economic transition and makes a significant contribution to Canadian historiography. 


2017 – Winner

  • Lisa Pasolli & Julia Smith

    Lisa Pasolli & Julia Smith, “The Labor Relations of Love: Workers, Childcare, and the State in 1970s Vancouver, British Columbia,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, volume 14, issue 4, pp: 39-60.

    This article on activism among women working in childcare in 1970s Vancouver sheds light on the unique ways in women were shaping unions at the grassroots level during a decade in which Canadian labour began to face new challenges.  This analysis by Pasolli and Smith links labour activism to wider issues of gender and employment, and to public policy.  It is a welcome addition to the existing literature on work, labour, and gender in the 1970s.   

2016 – Winner

  • Joan Sangster & Julia Smith

    Joan Sangster & Julia Smith, “Beards and Bloomers: Flight Attendants, Grievances and Embodied Labour in the Canadian Airline Industry, 1960s–1980s.” Gender, Work & Organization, Vol. 23, no 2, pp. 183-199.

    This article by Joan Sangster and Julia Smith examines union grievances dealing with the body, appearance and demeanour fought by the Canadian Air Line Flight Attendants Association, on behalf of its female and male members over a 30-year period. Taking a historical, materialist-feminist approach, they examine how workers used the grievance system to resist regulations they believed contradicted their right to dignified labour.  Sangster and Smith’s article is a valuable addition to the literature on labour struggles in the airline industry.  They skillfully integrate gender into their analysis and show how workers used the Fordist labour relations system to challenge corporate efforts to shape aesthetic and emotional labour.  

2015 – Winner

  • Magda Fahrni

    Magda Fahrni, "Glimpsing Working-Class Childhood through the Laurier Palace Fire of 1927: The Ordinary, the Tragic, and the Historian's Gaze". The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 8, 3 (Fall 2015): 426-50.

    Magda Fahrni’s article focuses on working-class childhood through a case study of the 1927 Laurier Palace fire in Montréal. The Laurier Palace was a cinema in the Hochelaga area of the city, and 250 children were present when the fire began. Hochelaga was predominantly francophone, and 78 children died during the catastrophe. Fahrni’s use of this tragic case reveals much about the nature of childhood in 1920 francophone Québec, particularly family relations, while also raising important questions about the relationship between empathy and historical practice.  It is a fine contribution to our understanding of working-class life during the inter-war period.

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