CHA Prizes

The CHA Journal Prize is awarded every year for the best essay published each year in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association. 


2020 – Winner

  • Jason Ellis

    Jason Ellis. “Public School Taxes and the Remaking of Suburban Space and History: Etobicoke, 1945-54”.

    The winner of the CHA Journal Prize is Jason Ellis, for “Public School Taxes and the Remaking of Suburban Space and History: Etobicoke, 1945–1954.” This article argues that school taxes were a significant policy tool for municipal officials and Etobicoke residents in their remaking of suburban space. Adding to the growing literature on the significance of tax to Canadian History, Ellis’ research provides new insight into how exclusion functioned in the suburbs during the post-war period. Reviewers and editors commented on the article’s originality of argument, careful research, and engaging style. They also noted that it successfully links the historiographies of urban history and the history of education, and predict that it will make an important contribution to both fields.

2019 – Winner

  • None - Aucun

    The prize was not awarded in 2019

2018 – Winner

  • James Forbes

    James Forbes, ““A Deplorable Speech”: The Liberal Party vs. Anti-Catholicism during the Alexander Mackenzie Administration, 1873-1878”, Volume 28, Issue # 1, 2017.

     This article discusses an important and underappreciated episode in the history of the Liberal party and Canadian political culture, detailing the evolution of the
    Canadian Liberal party’s attitudes towards Catholicism and the separation of church and state in the 1870s. This is a thoughtful, well-informed, nuanced, polished, and admirably succinct reading that integrates a broad range of secondary and primary sources and advances a clearly formulated and sophisticated argument. Forbes does an excellent job of contextualizing what may seem at first blush to be a minor political incident and generalizing its significance. 

2017 – Winner

  • Matthew Hayday

    Matthew Hayday, “Brought To You by the Letters C, R, T and C: Sesame Street and Canadian Nationalism”. Issue # 1, 2016.
    Matthew Hayday’s article studies the arrival of the American children’s program Sesame Street on Canadian television in the early 1970s. Hayday treats the controversy over the program and its subsequent Can-Con Canadianization as a case study revealing the ambivalent attitudes of the public and broadcasters themselves about Canadianization. Well-researched, engaging, and effective, as well as beautifully written and persuasively argued, Hayday’s article is a significant contribution to understanding Canadian broadcasting policy and debates about Canadianization in the early 1970s. 

2016 – Winner

  • Francesca D’Amico

    Francesca D’Amico, “‘The Mic Is My Piece’: Canadian Rap, the Gendered “Cool Pose” and Music Industry Racialization and Regulation.” (Volume 1, 2015).

    This article examines how in the 1980s and 1990s Black Canadian Rap artists — many of whom are the children of Caribbean-born immigrants — employed the hyper-racialized and hyper-gendered “Cool Pose” to interrupt conversations about citizenship, space, and anti-blackness. Their counter-narratives confronted their own sense of exclusion from a nation that has consistently imagined itself as White. Black Canadian musicians have used Rap as a discursive and dialogical space to insert Black Canadians into the national imagination, critique multiculturalism, and remind audiences of the deeply masculinized and racialized nature of Canadian iconography. In the process, state exclusionary practices impeded a Black music infrastructure and tried to block Canadian Rap’s political and cultural intervention. This fresh and exciting article engages with a broad range of theories, original research, and deft analysis that is well-written, convincingly argued, and provocative.  By drawing together cultural histories of Canadian rap and hip hop with critical literature on masculinity and the racialized nation state, D’Amico make an original contribution to Canadian political and cultural history.

2015 – Winner

  • Sharon Wall

    Sharon Wall, “Some thought they were in Love”: Sex, White Teenagehood, and Unmarried Pregnancy in Early Postwar Canada” which appears in Volume 25, Issue 1.

    By dismantling the stereotype of the sexually conservative 1950s, Wall explores Canadian teenagers’ experiences with unmarried sex and unplanned pregnancies, arguing that the sexual revolution of the 1960s is better understood as a gradual evolution starting right after World War II. Drawing on demographic data, censuses, social welfare reports, and oral histories, Wall teaches us how to read sources against the grain. The article re-frames the issue of teen pregnancy to probe sexual desires and practices, balanced against the hard realities of coercion, sexual violence, and incest. Wall illuminates class and ethnic differences, while still being attentive to other fissures in identities. This rich and nuanced article is sophisticated and innovative, while being accessible to entry-level undergraduate audiences. It will find a broad audience among specialists, generalists, and students interested in gender relations, sexual identities, social change, and youth culture. 

2014 – Winner

  • Madeline Rose Knickerbocker

    Madeline Rose Knickerbocker. “What We’ve Said Can Be Proven In The Ground:Stó:L? Sovereignty And Historical Narratives At Xá:Ytem, 1990-2006 " in JCHA/RSHC volume 1.
    In this excellent article Knickerbocker carefully traces how Stó:l? created alliances with non-indigenous archeologists and activists to preserve a transformer stone as a heritage site that was under threat of destruction from a housing development on the outskirts of Mission, British Columbia. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews and archival documents, and adopting the position of shared authority with her interview subjects, Knickerbocker teases out the complex conflicts and alliances in Stó:l? assertions of sovereignty. At strategic points Stó:l? de-emphasized their sovereignty over the territory to maintain tactical alliances with various levels of government. The article teaches us to be sensitive to the complexities of Indigenous sovereignty, to listen carefully to how narratives can serve multiple constituents, and to be mindful of the deep entanglements of national heritage. The compelling analysis, methodological plurality, eloquent prose, and contemporary significance lead the awards committee to unanimously choose this article for the JCHA prize. 

2013 – Winner

  • Ian Milligan

    Ian Milligan. "Mining the 'Internet Graveyard': Rethinking the Historians'Toolkit” in JCHA/RSHC volume 2.

    The deluge of information created in a digital format in the last fifty years has changed the game for historians of recent times. In his timely article, Ian Milligan proposes that historians need not abandon their methods, but rather expand their toolkits to handle the volume and form of digital information, by focusing on “distance reading,” such as machine-reading of large amounts of information to find broad patterns. He walks us through existing tools for managing digital information, and then considers how historians may develop their own software to create tools specific to historians’ concerns. This excellent article encourages historians to embracing programming as a new skill for historical research.


2012 – Winner

  • Krista J. Kesselring

    Krista J. Kesselring. “‘Negroes of the Crown’: The Management of Slaves Forfeited by Grenadian Rebels, 1796-1831” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association vol. 22, no 2 (2011): 1-29. 

    In her excellent article, Krista J. Kesselring studies the manner in which British officials dealt with and disposed of a group of Crown slaves forfeited by the Grenadian rebels of 1746-1796, from their acquisition through to their emancipation in 1831. Based on meticulous research, contextual breadth, depth of historiographical perspective and sophisticated analysis, this article offers an examination of British policy in regards to slavery that is both rigorous and nuanced.

2011 – Winner

  • Béatrice Richard

    Béatrice Richard. « Quelle guerre raconter ? Le dilemme du légionnaire Paul Caron. »In her article “Quelle guerre raconter ? Le dilemme du légionnaire Paul Caron”. 

    Béatrice Richard revisits the rapport that French Canada had with the Great War through the study of the testimony of journalist Paul Caron, enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in 1914. Adopting a new historiographical perspective, firmly rooted in theory, soundly set in the context of the period, based on solid research and written in elegant prose, this study not only contributes to the historiography of French Canadians’ correlation to the First World War, but also more generally to the development of war chronicles as sources for cultural history.

2010 – Winner

  • Michael Gauvreau, Jane Samson

    Issue #1
    Michael Gauvreau. "Winning Back the Intellectuals: Inside Canada’s ‘First War on Terror’ 1968-1970“.

    Historical treatments of the October Crisis have tended to focus on a simple dichotomy between the aims of the Canadian government and the Front de Liberation du Quebec, have suggested the tensions in the relationship between federal and provincial levels of government during the crisis, or have sought to situate the FLQ within the emergence of a new strain of radical ideas in Québec during the 1960s. This paper takes as its starting-point the irony of the reluctance of the Trudeau government to brand the FLQ as “terrorists,” and examines the federal government’s response within a larger strategy to force the intellectual communities in both English Canada and Québec away from a sympathy for student radicalism and international decolonization struggles. It situates the Trudeau government’s “war on terror” as less an episodic response to the kidnappings of James Cross and Pierre Laporte, but within a growing strand of conservatism in the encounter of the authorities with elements of the cultural revolution of the 1960s. It poses the question of whether the nature of the federal government’s response may have been due to the desire, among members of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s inner circle, to promote a new type of liberal ideology that sought to dispense with older versions that legitimated civic participation through non-elected, “representative” bodies by defining the latter as conscious or unwitting accomplices of terrorist violence. The paper is based on a range of newly-declassified documents from both the federal cabinet and the security services deposited in Pierre Trudeau’s prime ministerial archive, as well as a new reading of newspaper and media sources in Québec.

    Issue #2
    Jane Samson. “Christianity, masculinity, and authority in the Life of George Sarawia".

    Jane Samson’s “Christianity, masculinity, and authority in the Life of George Sarawia” is an innovate study of two complex sources of political and spiritual authority in the early twentieth-century Pacific island of Mota. Readers found it fresh, dynamic, and a subtle analysis of the available sources. By teasing out the complicated politics of masculinity, authority and Christianity in one particular setting, Samson’s article adds to historiographies on missions, gender, and colonialism in the Pacific and beyond. 


2009 – Winner

  • Kathryn Harvey, Charlotte Macdonald

    Issue #1
    Kathryn Harvey, “Location, Location, Location: David Ross McCord and the Makings of Canadian History”

    This  study of the McCord National Museum in Montreal examines the role of place in the creation of personal and public memory.  The founder, David Ross McCord, sought to promote a version of Canadian history in which family and personal myth were conflated with that of nation.   McCord’s highly personal narrative of Canadian origins was conceived in the private space of the home and was made manifest through the repetitive act of remembering.

    Issue #2 
    Charlotte Macdonald, "Between religion and empire: Sarah Selwyn’s Aotearoa/New Zealand, Eton and Lichfield, England, c.1840s-1900"

    Taking the life of Sarah Selwyn (1809-1907), wife of the first Anglican bishop to New Zealand, the article plots the dynamics of geographic movement and varying communities of connection through which the mid-19thC imperial world was constituted. Negotiating empire and religion, mission and church, high church and evangelical, European and indigenous Maori and Melanesian, Sarah’s life illuminates the intricate networks underpinning – and at times undermining – colonial governance and religious authority. Sarah embarked for New Zealand in late 1841 at a high point of English mission and humanitarian idealism, arriving into a hierarchical and substantially Christianised majority Maori society. By the time she departed, in 1868, the colonial church and society, now European-dominated, had largely taken a position of support for a settler-led government taking up arms against ‘rebellious’ Maori in a battle for sovereignty. In later life Sarah Selwyn became a reluctant narrator of her earlier ‘colonial’ life while witnessing the emergence of a more secular empire from the close of Lichfield cathedral. The personal networks of empire are traced within wider metropolitan and colonial communities, the shifting ground from the idealistic 1840s to the more punitive later 19thC. The discussion traces the larger contexts through which a life was marked by the shifting ambiguities of what it was to be Christian in the colonial world: an agent of empire at the same time as a fierce critic of imperial policy, an upper class high church believer in the midst of evangelical missionaries, someone for whom life in New Zealand was both a profound disjuncture and a defining narrative.

2008 – Winner

  • Mark Meyers

    Mark Meyers,  “‘Your brain is no longer you own!’: Mass Media, Secular Religion, and Cultural Crisis in Third Republic France” 

    Mark Meyers’ cogently argued article "‘Your brain is no longer your own!’: Mass Media, Secular Religion, and Cultural Crisis in Third Republic France," is a sophisticated and complex study of interwar French culture. While much literature has focused on the political, economic, and social challenges to the Republic, few have delved into the cultural challenges mounted by sectarian changes as represented by technological and scientific ‘advances’. In the paper Meyers studies a startling array of links between collective behaviour, hypnotic suggestion, and ‘religiosity’ and does so in an imaginative way.  In doing so, the connections between the present and the past are underscored to reveal the ambiguity of terms often used by historians to delineate this period.

2007 – Winner

  • Ryan C. Eyford

    Ryan C. Eyford,  “Quarantined Within a New colonial Order. The 1876-77 Lake Winnipeg Smallpox Epidemic" 

    Ryan’s C. Eyford’s beautifully written paper, “Quarantined Within a New Colonial Order: The 1876-77 Lake Winnipeg Smallpox Epidemic,” brings together the themes of colonization, settlement, and the dispossession of Aboriginal people in western Canadian history.  Theoretically sophisticated, it was deemed an “important” work by reviewers.  Eyford traces the intricate relations between the Aboriginals, Icelandic settlers, and the federal government during a devastating epidemic, in which government management allowed the Icelanders to colonize the area in a way that denied Aboriginal land claims.  Taking an apparently ‘small’ story, Eyford has created a model of analysis that will serve other historians of immigrant/Aboriginal relations well.

2006 – Winner

  • John Sandlos

    John Sandlos. “Federal Spaces, Local Conflicts: National Parks and the Exclusionary Politics of the Conservation Movement in Ontario, 1900-1935"

    Professor John Sandlos has written an engaging and thought-provoking article on Canadian national parks and the conservation movement in Ontario during the early 1900s. Making use of a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, Professor Sandlos demonstrates the complex interaction between federal and provincial officials, organizations, local commercial and recreational interests, squatters and aboriginal hunters in creating and developing these spaces. Using Point Pelee and Georgian Bay Islands National Parks as models, the result is an engaging examination of parks policy that encourages readers to look at these deliberations from the perspective of a ‘policy community’; that is, a construct that accounts for state and local actors in formulating a regulatory regime.

2005 – Winner

  • Kevin Kee

    Kevin Kee, "Bobby Sox to Bach: Charles Templeton and the Commodification of Popular Protestantism in the Postwar Era"

    This papers focus on popular religion is a valuable counterbalance to the tendency to emphasize church leadership, and its emphasis on the post-Second World War era addresses an era not extensively covered by historians. The essay also provides valuable insights into Charles Templeton, a relatively well-known figure, but one who is not as well understood in terms of his role in popular religion in Canada. Most important, the authors thesis convincingly challenges the prevailing wisdom of the role of Christianity in modern Canada, and undoubtedly will be the subject of future debate.

2004 – Winner

  • Whitney Lackenbauer

    Whitney Lackenbauer, "The Methodological Challenge of non-Events: A Reflection Using Comparative Case Studies on Military-Aboriginal Relations Over Land Use in Twentieth-Century Canada"

    This paper successfully intertwines local history, Native history, and the Canadian experience during the Second World War. It challenges accepted interpretations and presents a nuanced interpretation of motivations within the aboriginal community and among federal government officials. The paper serves as a reminder that historians should embrace complexity in historical events, and presents a striking example of what can be achieved through using this approach.

2003 – Winner

  • James Opp

    James Opp, "Re-imaging the Moral Order of Urban Space: Religion and Photography in Winnipeg, 1900-1914"

    In this innovative paper, James Opp provides a fresh perspective on urban reform and the Social Gospel in Canada through an examination of the photographs used by social gospelers in Winnipeg in their efforts to create a "scientific" representation of social problems. In his analysis, the author quite literally invites us to see the period in a new way.

2002 – Winner

  • Marlene Epp

    Marlene Epp, "Pioneers, Refugees, Exiles, and Transnationals: Gendering Diaspora in an Ethno-Religious Context"  

    In this innovative paper, Marlene Epp combines general theorizing about diaspora with the personal, immediate, and specific technique of story-telling to examine the lived experiences of four Mennonite women and assess the nature of identity among migrant peoples. She shows how notions of diaspora help to illuminate womens experiences, while at the same time showing that a study of gender can help to enrich our understanding of diaspora. In the process, she also challenges the collective myths of the Mennonites themselves (and some historians) to propose that the key elements of these womens identities were not religion or ethnicity, but rather the lived experience of transnationality itself, and their experience of place in patriarchal systems, including their own families. Both historiographically and methodologically, this essay provides considerable food for thought.

2001 – Winner

  • Jerry Bannister

    Jerry Bannister, "The Naval State in Newfoundland, 1749-1791"

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