The Hilda Neatby Prize English Article
Adele Perry, “James Douglas, Amelia Connolly, and the Writing of Gender and Women’s History,” in Catherine Carstairs and Nancy Janovicek (eds.), Feminist History in Canada: New Essays on Women, Gender, Work, and Nation (Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2013), pp. 23-40.
Adele Perry’s article, “James Douglas, Amelia Connolly, and the Writing of Gender and Women’s History,” revisits familiar terrain. James Douglas, British Columbia’s first governor, is a stock character in Canadian survey histories. The familiarity of James Douglas’ identity as fur trader and governor is partly why Perry’s article is so compelling. Through a careful exploration of the gendered dimensions of the relationship between Douglas and his wife, Amelia Connolly, and of the Connolly-Douglas family’s public identity, Perry firmly establishes the importance of understanding Canadian colonial politics in gendered terms. At the same time, Perry provides a sophisticated analysis of the way transnational intimate heterosexual relationships are informed by, and in turn inform, colonial hierarchies of gender, race and class. She pushes historians to consider how the individual lives of women and men are bound up in larger systems of oppression. This article demonstrates the great value of considering historical subjects as embedded within multi-layered private and public contexts and of developing insights provided by a broad reading of secondary sources, particularly when archival records of individuals do not survive or are unavailable, thereby reinforcing their marginal status in the historical record.