The Clio Prizes
John Sandlos, Hunters At The Margin: Native People and Wildlife Conservation in the Northwest Territories. University of British Columbia Press, 2007
Hunters At The Margin is a richly detailed, well researched, and insightfully argued book. John Sandlos convincingly demonstrates the Canadian government’s determination to colonize the northern landscape, and Canada’s Northern Aboriginal people in an effort to limit their abilities not only to hunt, but to pursue their traditional lifeways. During the early twentieth-century, the federal government’s desire to expand their control over conservation, particularly with respect to wood bison, muskox and caribou conflicted with the interests of the Cree, Inuit and Dene of the Northwest Territories. The establishment of national parks, game sanctuaries and hunting regulations severely disrupted traditional patterns leaving Northern Aboriginal Canadians to pursue unstable employment possibilities and to live in communities overseen by government officials. This system of surveillance ultimately deprived traditional hunters of their freedom to roam the land and live independently. John Sandlos presents a well-balanced narration of the voices of early conservationists, of government officials, and of Aboriginal leaders, all of whom claimed to have a stake in northern wildlife management. Those most affected by this new intervention, the northern peoples themselves, frequently opposed and resisted the government policies. The author’s skillful elucidation of this set of tensions serves as a potent reminder of the federal government’s disregard for Northern Aboriginal people, and the dreadful costs that resulted. We are also reminded of how environmental history can provide a rich tapestry through which to understand human action, and, in this case human error.
The Clio Awards North wishes to acknowledge Inuit Elder Winnie Owingayak for her numerous contributions to the preservation and maintenance of Inuit heritage and cultural traditions. Born and raised on the land, she is a resident of Baker Lake, Nunavut and recently retired as the Manager of Itsarnittakarvik: Inuit Heritage Centre, Baker Lake. She is a member at large of the Archive Council of Nunavummi and member of the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Katimajiit, which provides advice to the Government of Nunavut on traditional Inuit knowledge and values.
As one of the new generation of Inuit documenting Inuit culture, Winnie Owingayak has collected hundreds of recordings of elders and participated in the development and production of the CDs Tuhaalruuqtut Vol. I & Vol. II and Footprints, recordings of traditional Inuit songs. She was instrumental in the development of Tuhaalruuqtut Ancestral Sounds, a virtual exhibit of the Baker Lake Inuit Heritage Centre which is hosted on the Virtual Museum of Canada website. Visitors to the exhibit can hear examples of Winnie singing throat songs and playing accordion. While promoting a living understanding of Inuit heritage in her community of Baker Lake through her participation and organization of dances, games and other cultural activities, Winnie Owingayak has also been active regionally and nationally, widely sharing the knowledge of Inuit songs, stories and traditions through her collecting efforts and her own performances.
William J. Turkel‘s The Archive of Place: Unearthing the Pasts of the Chilcotin Plateau (Vancouver, UBC Press) has been selected for the Canadian Historical Association’s Clio award for the best book published on British Columbia history in 2007. Turkel uses the Chilcotin Plateau as an ‘archive of place,’ one that reveals much
about differing and at times conflicting interpretations of British Columbia’s past and the place of Indigenous peoples, settlers, and the land within it. Turkel’s book is both a work of environmental history and cultural history, centrally concerned with the making of place as an assemblage of material traces and cultural understandings mutually constituted in a landscape of memory. Moving back and forth between the present and the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth-century past, Turkel has crafted a methodologically innovative and elegantly written work of history.
Esyllt W. Jones, Influenza 1918: Disease, Death, and Struggle in Winnipeg, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).
Jones’ study of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic offers a new and innovative approach to a topic that has received a great deal of scholarly attention. By considering how family, class, gender, and ethnicity operated in Winnipeg during the flu pandemic, Jones weaves together a nuanced social history that combines both medical and labour perspectives. Jones focuses on how class and gender shaped the contours of the epidemic and crystallized around social divisions of class and ethnicity. In particular, her examination of the gendered dimensions of the pandemic is sophisticated and uses social responses to ill-health to explore the porous boundaries between home, work, and community. Indeed, volunteerism and public health nursing brought new actors into different urban spaces to provide both services and surveillance in Winnipeg’s ‘ethnic’ north.
In addition to medical history Jones’ work contributes to Canadian labour history. On the eve of the Winnipeg General Strike, and at a moment when the city had a reputation as Canada’s Chicago, this study offers significant insight into the social fabric of that urban dynamic during the epidemic. Given the proximity of the pandemic to the Winnipeg General Strike, Jones argues the experiences of illness helped forge strong class identities in Winnipeg and served to create a collective experience which helped mobilize and radicalize workers. She does this through examining three episodes in detail: from the first general strike vote in October 1918, the municipal election where labour was strongly represented, to the general strike itself in 1919. Jones makes a subtle and nuanced argument that through the experience of the epidemic the working classes of Winnipeg came to view disease as a social construction that emerged out of the city’s social relations.
Robert B. Kristofferson, Craft Capitalism: Craftworkers and Early Industrialization in Hamilton, Ontario 1840-1872 (Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press, 2007)
In this book, Robert Kristofferson has produced a vivid and specific account of skilled men in the first stages of Hamilton’s industrialization. He explores craft culture and the institutions through which it was made, arguing that at this point industrialization was not a linear process involving the degradation of skills and that artisan-producers played a significant role in determining its course. Drawing impressively on the relevant sources, notably census manuscripts, the press, and rich local biographical data, the author develops an image of historical change that is nuanced and complex. In the emerging industrial workplace, men identified themselves as members of a craft, and learned their skills through stages that they had good reason to anticipate would culminate in their own independence as proprietors or in well-paid and well-respected supervisory positions. Even in the largest workplaces, including the immense shops of the Great Western Railway, the organization of work was based on craft culture, in which craft pride and craft hierarchies were reinforced. In engaging the rich literature on economic and social change in mid-nineteenth century Hamilton, Craft Capitalism demonstrates how a local focus can address the largest of historical questions.
Martin Petitclerc, ‘Nous protégeons l’infortune’. Les origines populaires de l’économie sociale au Québec. Montréal, VLB Éditeur, 2007.
Although mutual benefit and friendly societies were important actors in nineteenth-century public life, they have been largely neglected by historians of Quebec. Martin Petitclerc’s “Nous protégeons l’infortune”. Les origines populaires de l’économie sociale au Québec is thus a most welcome addition to the historiography. A deeply researched, well-structured, and cogently argued work of history, this book sheds new light on associational life, but also on class relations, the role of the Catholic Church, masculinity, and working-class culture in nineteenth-century Quebec. While Petitclerc pays particular attention to the Montreal chapter of l’Union Saint-Joseph, this is much more than an institutional history. Careful empirical research is integrated into a rigorous theoretical framework; the everyday functioning of l’Union Saint-Joseph and other mutual benefit societies is made sense of through an analysis that relies upon Karl Polanyi’s and Mark Granovetter’s theories of ‘embeddedness.’ Petitclerc has drawn appropriately on the relevant international historiography in order to produce a work that is rooted in the history of Quebec’s popular classes, but that poses larger questions about the relationships between the economy and social relations, between liberalism and solidarity.
Actrices importantes de la vie publique au XIXe siècle, les sociétés de secours mutuels ont néanmoins été négligées par les historiens du Québec. « Nous protégeons l’infortune ». Les origines populaires de l’économie sociale au Québec, de Martin Petitclerc, est donc un ajout précieux à l’historiographie. Bien structuré, reposant sur des recherches imposantes et une argumentation convaincante, ce livre fait la lumière sur la vie associative, mais également sur les rapports de classe sociale, le rôle de l’Église catholique, la masculinité et la culture ouvrière au Québec au XIXe siècle. Petitclerc consacre une bonne partie de son livre à l’Union Saint-Joseph de Montréal, mais cet ouvrage est beaucoup plus qu’une simple histoire institutionnelle. La recherche empirique soignée est intégrée à un cadre théorique rigoureux; le fonctionnement quotidien de l’Union Saint-Joseph et d’autres sociétés de secours mutuels est compris à la lumière d’une analyse s’appuyant sur les théories de l’encastrement développées par Karl Polanyi et Mark Granovetter. Petitclerc a su s’inspirer de l’historiographie internationale pertinente afin de produire un ouvrage qui, tout en étant enraciné dans l’histoire des classes populaires québécoises, pose des questions plus vastes concernant les rapports entre l’économie et la société, entre libéralisme et solidarité.
A.J.B. Johnston, Endgame 1758: The Promise the Glory, and the Despair of Lousibourg’s Last Decade. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press 2007.
A.J.B Johnston’s Endgame 1758: The Promise the Glory and the Despair of Louisbourg’s Last Decade, based on exhaustive and meticulous research in French, British and British and French colonial records, successfully places the events leading to the fall of Louisbourg within the mid-18th-century Atlantic world. Johnston uses his well-sustained chess metaphor to carefully reconstruct the movement of opposing fleets, military strategies and engagements that form the central focus of the monograph. At the same time Louisbourg is imagined as a “fortress, seaport, and community.” (4) The account of the re-occupation of Louisbourg by the French provides excellent portrayals of the social and commercial life of the town in its last decade and brings its population to life as residents struggled with food shortages and enjoyed pre-Lenten carnivals. Through the use of personal details, such as the exchange of gifts between the British commander Major General Amherst and Madame Drucour, the wife of Louisbourg’s governor during the final battle Johnston skillfully engages his readers with his subjects, thereby heightening the poignancy of the final defeat.(237) The text is enriched by evocative first person accounts by a wide variety of participants on both sides of the conflict. Johnston has also made a strong and successful effort to place the aboriginal allies (and enemies) of the French at Louisbourg solidly within the narrative. While offering a wealth of rich detail about the naval and military engagements that led to the final defeat of Louisbourg as well as the social and commercial aspects of life in the fortified town, it is a highly readable book.