CHA Affiliated Committees Prizes

Published on June 2, 2020


Canadian Committee on Labor History Prizes

Best Article Prize 

Roy, Sonya. « 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.

Eugene A. Forsey Prize For Graduate Student Dissertation Prize

Dunsworth, Edward. “The Transnational Making of Ontario Tobacco Labour, 1925-1990” (PhD, University of Toronto, 2019).

Dunsworth situates tobacco workers’ labour within a transnational context while analyzing the changing nature of the labour force and work processes over time. Prior to WWII, thousands of workers from within Canada would swell the population of the tobacco towns during the short harvest season, many of them new immigrants to Canada. By the 1960s, government programs recruited seasonal workers from Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico.  As the labour process evolved, so too did working conditions: earlier geographical mobility gave way to a more restrictive system where social mobility and social protest became more difficult.  Yet, Dunsworth finds many instances in which tobacco workers organized for better working and living conditions.  To recover the history of this heterogeneous, transnational workforce, Dunsworth conducted research in Canada, the U.S., Jamaica and Barbados and the dissertation combines documentary and oral history source material. The result is a compelling analysis of labour force migration and workers’ responses to a changing landscape of tobacco work in the twentieth century.

Canadian Committee on Women’s History Prizes 

Hilda Neatby Prize

French-Language Article Prize

Tanguay, Marilou. « La page féminine du Devoir, un « espace public alternatif » ? Une étude de cas des mécanismes d’exclusion et de contrôle du « féminin » et du « féminisme » dans le quotidien (1965-1975) », Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, volume 72, numéro 3, hiver 2019, p. 29-59.

As a particular chapter in the history of the press, the women's pages of the major dailies have often been associated with a kind of journalistic ghetto in which fashion, cooking and childcare themes dominate. For this reason, they have been conceived as a discursive forum for the reproduction of gender roles. By studying the women's page of the newspaper Le Devoir from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, Marilou Tanguay reveals a more complex reality. She observes how, in these years of the re-emergence of the feminist movement, this forum made it possible to inform women readers about various issues such as abortion, the place of women in politics, unequal access to higher education and discrimination in the job market. Thus, within this "alternative discursive space", certain central demands of the women's movement could be transmitted. The disappearance of the women's page in 1971, in the very name of the obsolescence of such segregation, led to a paradoxical decrease in the space given to feminist issues in the newspaper. According to Tanguay, the phenomenon attests to the strong persistence of a masculine and sexist culture within the media sphere. Of this rich contribution, the jury particularly appreciated the solidity of the demonstration, the vigour of the argument and the attention paid to the issues of intersectionality.

 Special Mention

Poitras, Daniel. « Mettre en scène l’exclusion de l’histoire. Les femmes à l’université et le concours Miss Quartier Latin (1950-1963) », Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, volume 72, numéro 3, hiver 2019, p. 41-71.

The jury awarded a "special mention" to Daniel Poitras for this study of cultural history that stands out for its originality and sophistication. Re-reading against the grain the sources of the student movement produced by its male leaders, this article features the participants of the annual "Miss Latin Quarter" contest. The author uses this carnival event, inaugurated at Université Montréal in 1950, to observe the tensions introduced in student culture by the new influx of women into the university ranks. In a metonymic way, the competition reveals a whole symbolic order in transformation. The repeated efforts of the organizers to re-establish gender roles in this Mecca of knowledge undoubtedly signaled the anguish associated with a loss of privilege. While the analysis focuses on the symbolic violence implied by this annual ritual, it also detects the efforts of resistance and subversion by participants seeking to break free, to a greater or lesser extent, from the normative discourses held against them. One of the qualities of the article is certainly that it mobilizes the grid for the analysis of regimes of historicity for the benefit of gender history; the borrowing allows us to shed more light on the way in which female students - rhetorically assimilated to the eternal feminine - were kept away from making history.

English-Language Article Prize

Androsoff, Ashleigh. "The Trouble with Teamwork: Doukhobor Women’s Plow Pulling in Western Canada, 1899". Canadian Historical Review, 100(4), 540–563.

With her insightful analysis of the images of Doukhobor women performing heavy physical labour normally assigned to men or draft animals, Dr. Androsoff demonstrates how these images disrupted the traditional narratives of settler experiences in the colonial West at a time when first-wave feminists were arguing for improvements to women’s rights in Canada. Enriching our understandings of western history, she explores the motivations for the women to engage in this physically demanding “masculine” work, proving that they were resourceful and good agriculturalists. In so doing, Dr. Androsoff offers a unique contribution to the history of gender, culture and settler communities in western Canada.

English-Language Book Prize

Korinek. Valerie. Prairie Fairies : A History of Queer Communities and People in Western Canada, 1930-1985. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

This year’s winner of the Canadian Committee’s Women’s and Gender History (CCWGH) Book Prize is Valerie Korinek’s Prairie Fairies: A History of Queer People and Communities in Western Canada, 1930-1985. The prize is awarded on a bi-annual basis to the best scholarly book published by a Canadian historian in women’s or gender history. Dr. Korinek’s book explores same-sex desire in five major western Canadian cities: Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. Bringing together a rich collection of oral testimony and textual documents, Dr. Korinek paints a rich and sensitive portrait of the everyday lives, places, communities, and activist organizations of queer women and men. By historizing same-sex desire among women, Prairie Fairies fills a major gap in the field of Canadian women’s and gender history, as well as Canadian history more broadly. We congratulate Dr. Korinek on her important contribution.

Honourable Mentions 

Guard, Julie. Radical Housewives: Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Dr. Guard’s book examines the history of the Housewives Consumers Association (HCA), a national organization of activist consumers that advocated for fair pricing and a more responsive government when it came to the needs of working-and-middle class Canadians. Active from 1937 until the early 1950s, the HCA drew on maternalist rhetoric and leftist politics in the fight against food insecurity. Dr. Guard’s analysis provides important new insight into the interconnected ways in which direct action and women’s activism shaped broader societal debates about citizenship rights and the responsibilities of the state.

Sethna, Christabelle and Hewitt, Steve. Just Watch Us: RCMP Surveillance of the Women's Liberation Movement in Cold War Canada. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018.

Drs. Sethna’s and Hewitt’s book draws on the surprisingly rich RCMP surveillance files regarding the women’s liberation movement in Canada. By contextualizing these files within the larger framework of the “red prism,” Drs. Sethna and Hewitt explore the nature of state surveillance during the Cold War and the particular ways that this impacted women’s organizations fighting against gender inequity. In a broader sense, their book makes clear the shocking extent to which women’s groups were watched, highlighting both the frustrating realities of state repression and the tremendous potential for resistance from those deemed politically dangerous.

French-Language Book Prize

Lamontagne, Marie-Andrée. Anne Hébert: Vivre pour écrire. Boréal, 2019.

The members of the jury chose to award the prize for the best French-language book in women's history to Marie-Andrée Lamontagne, for Anne Hébert: Vivre pour écrire, published by Les Éditions du Boréal, a major contribution to the history of women of letters and, more broadly, to women's history. Drawing on a considerable number of oral testimonies (more than 80 interviews conducted between 2005 and 2015) and on the correspondence of Anne Hébert and her family, Marie-Andrée Lamontagne offers a rich and nuanced biography of a singular writer who, while not representative of all the women of her generation, enriches the picture of potential destinies for women of the petty bourgeois milieu born in the 1910s in Quebec. Marie-Andrée Lamontagne's work impressed us for the quality of the writing, which is fluid, precise and nuanced. We appreciated the lucid stance, both sympathetic and critical, of the biographer towards her subject; her ability to debunk myths sometimes constructed by Anne Hébert herself; the way she manages to integrate the life and work of the writer without ever over-interpreting. In the background of Anne Hébert's talented, tormented, timid character, a pre-Revolutionary Quebec is revealed, where we can observe a woman's relationship with a family (especially a father, brother and sister), with her friends; her relationship to culture, religion, health, and her place in a network of influence that straddles Quebec and France. This work, which is not written by a women's historian, seems to us nevertheless unavoidable and promises to have a significant influence both within and outside the discipline of women's history.

Special Mention

Bouchard, Marie-Pier. Vivre au coeur de paroisses de femmes: dans la région de Charlevoix (1940-1980). PUL, 2019.

The members of the jury chose to give a special mention to Marie-Pier Bouchard's Vivre au cœur des « paroisses de femmes » dans la région de Charlevoix (1940-1980). Based on oral interviews with seventeen women who had experienced the seasonal migrations of their husbands-sailors or lumberjacks, this book sheds light on the collective and intimate experience of rural wives and mothers who had to "play woman and man" at the same time. These women reveal themselves to have a great sense of agency in a sometimes harsh context. Marie-Pier Bouchard's work, based on her master's thesis, allows us to grasp their vision of the world through their own language, a language rooted in the territory they inhabit. It thus saves these voices from the past that could have disappeared without making a sound from oblivion and reminds us of the great importance of oral history in a world where everything seems to be turning upside down.

Political History Group Prizes 

Best English-Article Prize 

Briggs, Jacqueline. “Exemplary Punishment: T.R.L. MacInnes, the Department of Indian Affairs, and Indigenous Executions, 1936-52,” Canadian Historical Review 100, no. 3, (September 2019): 398-438.

Using T.R.E. MacInnes, an official in the Department of Indian Affairs as a focus, this well-written and methodologically sophisticated analysis draws on decolonisation theory, criminology, and extensive research in departmental files to critically examine existing scholarship on capital punishment as it affected the Indigenous peoples.  Briggs convincingly demonstrates that in the first half of the twentieth century, the elite endeavoured to impose social control on the Indigenous peoples and how the bureaucracy reflected such ideas and influenced policy.

Book Prize 

Loo, Tina. Moved by the State, Forced Relocation and Making a Good Life in Postwar Canada. UBC Press, 2019.

Moved by the State is a masterful work. It is as impressive in scope as it is in the intellectual heft of its argument.  Drawing on case studies from the Arctic to the Atlantic, to the Pacific and points in between, Loo gives us a history of forced relocations in Canada that shows Canadian connections to global histories of social and economic development.  She highlights how race, gender, class, and the urban/rural divide informed these relocations. In the process, she pays sensitive attention to the conflicts both within communities and between the state and those whose homes were marked for removal. Loo respects the hope-filled attempts to use public resources to help people and to build participatory democracy, but she is also unfailingly alert to both the limits and the unexpected consequences of these efforts. Those who were targeted for relocation found in “citizen participation” new channels for speaking back to power. In many ways, they defined “the good life” on their own terms, at odds with those of the modernizers. In its exploration of the complex connections between development, democracy, and empowerment, Moved by the State shows us the origins of political problems we still face today. It is an important and inspiring investigation of Canada’s liberal order in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Honourable Mention

Nickel, Sarah A. Assembling Unity: Indigenous Politics, Gender and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. UBC Press, 2019.

Assembling Unity is a fascinating account of Indigenous political history. Drawing on oral history, Indigenous theory, and gender analysis, Nickel situates the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in the longer history of Indigenous political organization, as well as global movements of anti-colonial resistance.  She explores how ‘unity’ was understood and deployed by diverse political actors. In this vein, she discusses the political impact of Indigenous women, both as individuals and through organizations such as the British Columbia Indian Homemakers’ Association. She also brings an Indigenous feminist analysis to the images and practices of Indigenous political activists. By centering Indigenous voices and political organization, Assembling Unity offers a new perspective on the political and constitutional debates of the 1970s and 1980s. Nickel goes beyond relations between the UBCIC and settler governments to unpack the complex interplay between and within the grassroots, Indigenous communities, and the organization.  All told, the book stands as an invaluable contribution to the history of Indigenous politics in their own right and to understanding settler-Indigenous relations in the long 1970s.

Public History Group Prize
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.

Indigenous History Prizes 

Best Article Prize

Whetung, Madeline. “(En)Gendering Shoreline Law: Nishnaabeg Relational Politics Along the Trent Severn Waterway.” Global Environmental Politics 19, no. 3 (August 2019): 16–32.

"(En)gendering Shoreline Law" is a superb contribution to Mississaugi history, legal history, the history of Ontario, gender history and treaty history. Whetung skillfully weaves together archival research with oral histories, demonstrating great sensitivity to Anishinaabe ontology. She critiques settler mythologies about the historical significance of the Trent Severn Waterway and recentres Anishinaabe people on the lands and waters of Michi-Saagig territory. In so doing she makes visible the tremendous impact of settler colonial economic activities on the lands and waters of this region, and moreover, reveals the impact such activities had on Anishinaabekwe responsibilities for water.

McCracken, Krista. "Challenging Colonial Spaces: Reconciliation and Decolonizing Work in Canadian Archives." Canadian Historical Review 100, no. 2. (June 2019): 82–201.

“Challenging Colonial Spaces” is an outstanding contribution on the complex power relationships embedded within our archives. Drawing on decolonization and settler colonialism literature and their experience as a settler archivist at the Shingwauk Residential School Centre, they illustrate how traditional archival practices are built on the power structures of colonial relationships. The article illustrates that the archival community must decolonize in order for Canada to be compliant with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles. Commenting that there is no singular approach to decolonizing the archives and that the work must be done with Indigenous participation, McCracken offers tangible suggestions for how to move forward. 

Book Prize

Nickel, Sarah.  Assembling Unity: Indigenous Politics, Gender, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2019).

By contrasting the role played by band leaders, women and the militant base involved in the ideological development of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), Sarah Nickel makes an important contribution to our understanding of contemporary Indigenous leadership, particularly its gendered dimension. Based on solid research in the archives, combined with interviews with former leaders, Nickel offers a sophisticated analysis of the issues related to the search for consensus within the Indigenous political movement. Herself a member of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, Nickel offers us a clear, concise and solidly argued work, which constitutes a model for future research on the political dynamics at work not only among First Nations, but in Canadian society at large.

History of Children and Youth Group Prize 

Barclay, Katie. “Love, Care and the Illegitimate Child in Eighteenth-Century Scotland,” Transactions of the RHS 29 (2019), pp. 105-125.

With sophisticated style, Barclay illustrates how legitimacy – alongside gender, class, and parentage – shaped children’s experiences of love and care in eighteenth-century Scotland. The committee was particularly impressed with the distinction Barclay makes between caring for and caring about children, reframing our understanding of children’s material and affective circumstances. Her careful analysis of court and church session documents and personal letters between the relatives of illegitimate children reveals the kinds of “dispersed” parenting illegitimate children received. “Love,” she argues convincingly, “was a social product, framed and shaped by and through the social, economic and legal networks in which the child was positioned.”  Barclay’s article is beautifully written and engages with the literature of mothering, emotions, and the law, while presenting a new lens through which to consider affection and family ties. 

Honourable Mention

Millions, Erin. “Portraits and Gravestones: Documenting the Transnational Lives of Nineteenth-Century British-Métis Students,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 29:1 (2018): 1-38.

The experiences of young people travelling between their homes in Hudson Bay Company territories to Canadian colonies and Britain for their education are the subject of Millions’ fascinating study. Millions analyses her sources perceptively, connecting the portraits and gravestones of British-Métis youths to archival records to illuminate an overlooked area of fur trade history: the transnational mobility, kin ties and multicultural identities of English-speaking, Protestant children of fur-trading families. Her rich discussion of the sources raises important methodological questions about children’s visibility in the archival record, and her analysis reveals the privileges and risks conferred on British-Métis youth by their educational experiences far from home. Millions’ highly readable piece sheds light on colonial educational practices that pre-date industrial and residential schools in the west.

Canadian Committee on the History of Sexuality Prize

Chenier, Elise. “Love-Politics: Lesbian Wedding Practices in Canada and the United States from the 1920s to the 1970s,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 27, no.2 (May 2018): 294-321.

Elise Chenier’s essay is a complex and provocative historical investigation of same-sex wedding practices as a form of activism and love-politics, using a theoretical formulation drawn from Jennifer Nash’s work on black feminist thought. Weaving together a historical record of same- sex wedding practices in Canadian and US history with a theory of justice based on collectivity and love-politics, Chenier demonstrates how weddings were weaponized as a social platform to move away from identity politics and towards radicalism despite embracing “heterosexuality’s most defining public ritual.” Within this paradigm, Chenier showcases historical examples that focus on the political work and world-making in the communities and lives of butches and femmes and studs and fishes as they negotiated their activism as a “radical assertion of self-love and queer dignity.” Chenier’s illuminating and significant contribution engages with core debates in the history of sexuality such as race, liberation vs. equality politics, the use of oral history, gay and lesbian activism, and surveillance within a multiplicity of contexts including the military, bars, and neighborhoods.

Honourable mention

Ross, Becki L. and Hamilton, Jamie Lee. “‘Loss Must Be Marked and It Cannot Be Represented’: Memorializing Sex Workers in Vancouver’s West End,” BC Studies 197 (Spring 2018): 9-38.

In a moving and poignant discussion on community activism, civic politics, and the memorializing of sex worker’s experiences in Vancouver,  academic-activist, Becki L. Ross, and the late community sex worker activist, Jamie Lee Hamilton, offer a rare glimpse into the trials and successes born from a remarkable collaboration and deep friendship. Ross and Hamilton document the political activism and affective politics that punctuated their efforts to “honour the resilience of ‘hookers on Davie’” while Indigenous women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside went missing and/or were murdered. The authors centre discourses of displacement, struggle, and violence to draw the reader into understanding the historical significance of their commitment to commemorate the street-based sex workers working in the West End from the late 1960s to 1984 with a memorial lamppost. In the shadow of Jamie Lee Hamilton’s untimely passing on December 23, 2019, the article functions to document and archive the work, life, and spirit of a major political actor.

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