The award recognizes work that achieves high standards of original research, scholarship, and presentation; brings an innovative public history contribution to its audience; and serves as a model for future work, advancing the field of public history in Canada.
In 2020, the award was presented to three recipients:
1. Know History
Historic Métis Communities Video Project
The Historic Métis Communities Video Project is a well-produced series of seven documentary short films that is by the communities and for the communities. The collaborative work of Know History, the Métis Nation of Ontario, and SandBay Entertainment, each three-act film highlights a Métis community in Northern Ontario, its origins, challenges, and connections to the contemporary Métis community.
The jury commends the team, which designed the project as an educational tool for grades six to ten, for the community-focussed and engaging approach to telling these complex histories through film, and how these histories are rooted in both the voices of community members and archival records.
2. Team: Stacey Zembrzycki (Dawson College); Nancy Rebelo (Dawson College); Eszter Andor (Montreal Holocaust Museum); Anna Sheftel (Saint Paul University); Philip Lichti (multimedia production); Joyce Pillarella (booklet graphic design); Caroline Künzle (translation); and Antonia Hernández and Corina MacDonald (graphic design and web development).
Survivors: Ted Bolgar; Fishel Goldig; Paul Herczeg; Muguette Myers; George Reinitz; Tommy Strasser; Musia Schwartz; Renata Skotnicka-Zajdman; and Sidney Zoltak.
Refugee Boulevard: Making Montreal Home After the Holocaust
Driven by community outreach and oral histories, Refugee Boulevard: Making Montreal Home After the Holocaust is an audio tour of six child survivors who came to Montreal through the War Orphans Project in 1948. Developed by researchers at Dawson College, the Montreal Holocaust Museum, Saint Paul University, and survivors, the tour is rooted in strong scholarship, while linking the past to the present and future through community outreach and collaborative research methods.
The tour is well crafted and can be followed easily in-person or using online mapping services, such as Google Streetview. As such, it is an effective demonstration of how digital resources and methodologies can expand and enrich more traditional forms of public history. Survivors’ personal anecdotes provide a depth to the content that is supported by a strong narrative framework and the supplementary booklet.
3. Canadian War Museum
Second World War Discovery Box
The Second World War Discovery Box is a hands-on learning experience that is available free to any classroom in Canada for a two-week loan. The boxes are comprised of a curated selection of both original and reproduction artifacts from the Canadian War Museum, and are supported by digital resources including historical overviews, archival materials, personal stories, and lesson plans. The Discovery Box takes the museum experience out of Canada’s capital, bringing it to learners across the country.
The committee was impressed by how the content of the Second World War Discovery Box is based on strong scholarship, while presented in a way to make historical practice adaptable across age ranges. This promotes the best practices of historical thinking for teachers and students, and as such it reflects the important cross-fertilization between public history and history education.
Aanischaaukamikw, Cree Cultural Institute, Footprints: A Walk through Generations
Footprints: A Walk through Generations is a superior example of public history. Both in how it was assembled and circulated, this exhibit epitomizes the best practices from the field. It also shows the potential for public history to contribute to broader societal issues such as public health and social justice.
The prize was not awarded.
Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle, Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle. Between the Lines.
If one of the goals of Public History is to engage directly with an audience, the Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle hit the mark with their collaborative anthology of nine short comics. Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle is an excellent blend of high level scholarship, Labour History, and captivating art that shows how Public History can embrace different media in innovative ways.
Activehistory.ca has established itself as a hub of conversation among emerging scholars, senior historians, students, teachers, the media, and other practitioners of public history on a wide range of historical topics. Since 2008, this innovative website has brought historical context and critical commentary to a broad range of political and social issues, and in 2015, it launched many new initiatives, including a digital exhibition page. With 13,000 unique page views per month, Activehistory.ca is committed to making history public and accessible, while setting a high bar for the quality of scholarship it delivers.
Susan Roy (University of Waterloo); Larissa Grant, Terry Point, Leona Sparrow, and Jason Woolman (Musqueam First Nation); Viviane Gosselin (Museum of Vancouver); Susan Rowley and Jordan Wilson (Museum of Anthropology, UBC). c??sna??m: the city before the city.
The project is a series of exhibitions at the Museum of Vancouver, the Musqueam First Nation Cultural Resources Centre, and the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia. By exploring the history of Vancouver from the point of view of the Musqueam First Nation, this collaborative and dynamic project offers a critical reflection on city building, colonialism and dispossession, museum collecting practices, Indigenous activism, and Indigenous landscapes in the urban metropolis.
This series of exhibits explores the history of Vancouver from the point of view of the Musqueam First Nation. It is a collaborative and dynamic project which offers a critical reflection on city building, colonialism and dispossession, museum collecting practices, Indigenous activism, and Indigenous landscapes in the urban metropolis.
Ronald Rudin, Philip Lichti, & Archinodes. Returning the Voices to Kouchibouguac National Park.
This online website repatriates the voices of residents from seven New Brunswick communities who were removed from their lands in the 1970s to create Kouchibouguac National Park. The map created to facilitate the removals is reworked into an accessible online navigational tool that allows the user to locate memories of place within the park’s boundaries. In its multi-media presentation of audio memories, videos of the park, and still photographs, Returning the Voices sets a new standard in design for producing historical narratives of place.
James Opp, Anthony Whitehead and Will Knight, “Rideau Timescapes”. A free downloadable app for Apple iOS.
This innovative iPhone application takes its users on a journey through the past, allowing them to interact with the visual heritage of lockstations along the historic Rideau canal. GPS technology allows visitors of the lockstations to overlay the past and present views. The unique Timescape view allows them to witness the changes in the landscape through time. By combining historical documentation and technology, the creators of this tool have made an outstanding contribution to public history, in the process creating a platform that can be used in contexts other than the Rideau Canal.
Aaron Floresco & Rhonda Hinther, “The Oldest Profession in Winnipeg: The ‘Red Light’ District of 1909-1912” (Documentary film by Past Perfect Productions, 2011).
This engaging documentary film tells the provocative story of Winnipeg’s Red Light district in the early twentieth century. The filmmaker, Aaron Floresco, deftly combines strong historical content with an impressive array of creative elements—historical re-enactment, music, advanced editing of archival photographs and documents; animated maps; and interviews with experts. The writers, Floresco and Rhonda Hinther, effectively use the records of a commission of inquiry as the basis for their storyline, drawing out the character and perspective of police, prostitutes, “johns,” and brothel operators. The result is a high-quality production that makes this controversial moment in Winnipeg’s past inviting and accessible to a wide public audience.
Ronald Rudin. Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie: A Historian’s Journey through Public Memory.
The winner of the inaugural Public History Prize is Ronald Rudin, for his project Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie: A Historian’s Journey through Public Memory. Published by the University of Toronto Press, the book explores the commemorations and collective memory of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Acadie and the 250th anniversary of the deportation of the Acadians. Adopting a highly innovative approach as an “embedded historian,” Rudin conducted interviews with a wide range of peoples – Acadians, Anglophones, and First Nations – and he draws on his own personal reflections on the formation of public memory. Rudin’s remarkable project also includes an accompanying web site and a documentary film, Life After Île Ste-Croix, which are integrated with his book. By combining film, internet, and print, Rudin has created an outstanding and thought-provoking contribution to public history that challenges the field’s traditional boundaries.
Heather MacDougall. Making Medicare: The History of Healthcare in Canada, 1914-2007. Canadian Museum of Civilization Social Progress Web Gallery, http://www.civilization.ca/medicare.
Heather MacDougall’s Making Medicare exhibition in the Canadian Museum of Civilization Social Progress Web Gallery is an eye-catching, bilingual, and comprehensive narrative of the gradual development of Canada’s hospital and medical services insurance programs. This web component of more than three hundred windows is impressive, for it allows a general audience to navigate with ease through a timeline spanning over ninety years and within categories detailing the various economic, social, and political actors and factors that shaped Canada’s medical system. Of note is the educational tool designed for students and teachers to further enhance their understanding of this history. The Committee is extremely pleased to honour this thoroughly researched and highly accessible work that makes an important contribution to the fields of public history and health care.
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