The Clio Prizes
John Reid, with contributions by Emerson W. Baker, Essays on Northeastern North America: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
John Reid’s Northeastern North America: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries stands as a record of how his scholarship has dramatically changed the historical questions pertaining to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic region and beyond. The three essays in Part One: Colonial Habitation, demonstrate the possibilities and problems of “making empire” at the margins –what Reid calls “the fragility of colonial habitation.” The second group of essays, headed Imperial Exchange, offers a deep sense of how the colonial order was very much negotiated on the basis of fragility, while the third section, Aboriginal Engagement, is a serious and sustained analysis of the aboriginal response to colonial incursions and settler societies. Part Four, Commemoration, reflects on the changing ways in which historical commemorations of early Northeastern North America have been understood and presented. The volume includes an introduction, thirteen essays organized in the four sections discussed above, and an Epilogue. Two essays were co-written with Emerson W. Baker. Collectively these essays underscore Reid’s important contribution to the reconceptualization of the history of the Atlantic region.
John Lutz, Makúk: A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations
Makúk is a ground-breaking book about exchanges, conflicts of meaning, intercultural relations, and work. Developed as part of the Chinook jargon on the northwest Pacific Coast in the late eighteenth century, the word Makúk means, “Let’s Trade.” In John Lutz’s book this simple phrase nevertheless unfolds onto a rich and diverse examination that considers patterns of mobility in wage labour, community-based stories, industry-specific histories, and the economic development of British Columbia. Carefully constructed case studies of the diverse experiences of different groups, including the Lekwungen and the Tsilhqot’in, provide depth and texture to sweeping synoptic analyses of changing patterns of aboriginal labour, state welfare policies, and ideas of work. The archival reach of Makúk and its engagement with the international theoretical literature is impressive; so too is Lutz’s insistence on and demonstration of new modes of historical inquiry that draw oral history into the core of analysis. While Makúk reframes BC history in important ways and offers an analytically complex narrative, it also models an approach that makes academic research more accessible. The writing never hides behind specialist language but introduces difficult ideas in plain terms; the innovative print layout and format deploy visual images and selected archival texts to interrupt the narrative and raise new questions for readers. This book helps to refresh some areas of BC historiography that were seemingly well understood; it will have an important effect on BC, national, and international scholarship.
The BC Clio jury would like to acknowledge Jean Barman for her substantial contributions to BC historical scholarship over the course of her distinguished career in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her scholarship has been both voluminous and important. Not only is she the author of the major survey text of British Columbia history, The West Beyond the West, which has reached a wide public audience across the country, but she has also written or edited eighteen other books and published over fifty papers in BC history. Her research has received accolades and prizes for broadening and deepening the historiography of BC and Canada. She has twice been awarded the BC Clio prize for the best book on British Columbia history (2002 and 1992), won the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing (2004), and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002. Barman has also mentored new scholars at her home institution, as well as others conducting research on BC from across Canada and North America; in doing so she provided critical support for the renewal and rethinking of British Columbia history. In addition to her distinguished scholarly record, Barman has assumed an important role as a public intellectual. She has been central to the Vancouver Museum Revitalization Project, a regular contributor to CBC-Radio’s “Almanac” programme, a Director of BC Heritage Trust, a Director of Pacific Book World New Society, and a member of the Vancouver City Council’s Downtown Historic Greenway Committee. In these ways, her scholarship has informed her citizenship and enriched the public discourse of the province.
The Clio Award Committee for Northern Canada is pleased to offer Dorothy Harley Eber the Certificate of Merit in acknowledgement of her contributions to northern history. Although not a trained historian, Harley Eber has spent the last forty years traveling to the Arctic from her home in Montreal, first as a journalist and more recently to conduct oral interviews with Inuit elders. Her five authored or co-authored books on Canada’s north include: Pitseolak: Pictures Out of My Life, (1970); People From Our Side: A Life Story With Photographs (1993); When the Whalers Were Up North: Inuit Memories From the Eastern Arctic (1996); Images of Justice: A Legal History of the Northwest Territories As Traced Through the Yellowknife Courthouse Collection of Inuit Sculpture (1997); and Encounters on the Passage: Inuit Meet the Explorers (2008).
Her most recent book (published by the University of Toronto Press in 2008) attests to her remarkable aptitude to bring to life the stories told by Inuit elders of encounters between early European explorers and northern indigenous people. Harley Eber has worked in partnership with many Inuit storytellers, elders, artists and interpreters. She has listened, respected, and passed on their histories. She has acted as an interpreter for southern readers by introducing Inuit artistic representations and by providing oral histories of the Inuit side of the Native/Newcomer encounter. The oral interviews Harley Eber has collected will serve as an important repository of Inuit histories, and the books that she has written have forged further understanding of Inuit cultures in the far north.
Catharine Anne Wilson, Tenants in Time: Family Strategies, Land, and Liberalism in Upper Canada, 1799-1871
In this fascinating and readable study, Catharine Anne Wilson challenges and overturns our basic assumptions about the settlement era in Ontario history. She argues convincingly that values inherent in liberalism about land have become so entrenched in our thinking that historians have focused almost entirely on land ownership; however, rural tenancy was a significant part of the Upper Canadian experience. By exploring the range of types of tenants and tenancy, the relations between landlords and tenants, the legal system that governed those relations, the differences between the legal framework and actual practice, and tenancy as a family strategy towards security and mobility, Wilson demonstrates that tenancy was central to the economic, social, political, and ideological development of the province. While tenancy was not part of the prevailing liberal ideal, she shows compellingly that it was vital to its functioning. The book is extensively and carefully researched, but the reader is never lost in statistics or detail; a micro-history of one township in Northumberland County brings the story very much to life.
Sarah Carter, The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada to 1915
The Importance of Being Monogamous joins other innovative works in social and colonial history that draw connections between the growth of European-Canadian settlement, nation building, and the extension of empire. Before 1870, the West was made up of diverse and complex cultures that practised varied forms of marriage. Unfortunately, for European-Canadians this matrimonial diversity was a sign of social disorganization and immorality, and thus needed to be changed. Examining the imposition of the monogamous Christian marriage model, Carter traces the process through which the state asserted its European-Canadian cultural, economic, and political hegemony over the Prairie West. Carter shows how the creation of a White settler society in Western Canada (which was rooted in appropriate gender norms, agriculture, and a European-Canadian identity) was neither a natural nor inevitable process.
Carter’s study also makes important contributions to the history of sexuality, law, gender, and public policy. In this study Carter complicates popular beliefs that marriage is by definition monogamous, heterosexual, universal and fixed. Carter clearly shows that the “wistful nostalgia” (expressed by social conservatives) for an imaginary simpler time — when gender roles were firmly in place with the husband as family head and provider, and the wife as the dependent partner obedient, unobtrusive, and submissive — is based on a entirely imagined past. Instead, she demonstrates that the construction of the monogamous marriage as ‘normal’ was a deliberate and relatively recent choice made by the increasingly dominant social group in the West at the turn of the century.
That this book is published with Athabasca University Press is also noteworthy. Athabasca University Press is relatively new to scholarly publishing. Its mandate is to overcome barriers to education by making its catalogue as accessible as possible. Electronic copies of the Press’s publications, including this book, are accordingly available, free of charge, online. Therefore, not only does The Importance of Being Monogamous make an important contribution to scholarship, but it should reach a broad audience.
Marc Vallières et coll., Histoire de Québec et de sa région, 3 tomes
The committee is pleased to award this year’s Clio-Quebec Prize to Histoire de Québec et de sa region, by Marc Vallières, Yvon Desloges, Fernand Harvey, Andrée Héroux, Réginald Auger, Sophie-Laurence Lamontagne and André Charbonneau. This wide-ranging study in three volumes traces the history of Quebec City and the region that surrounds it from their very beginning until today. Among the many strengths of this work, the jury would like to highlight the following: extensive research in primary and secondary sources (both classic and recent); rigorous analysis; the ability to situate Quebec City and its region in a much wider geographical context; the attention paid to all residents of Quebec City (Aboriginal and European, Catholic and Protestant; francophone and anglophone; men, women, and children); and a noteworthy concern for detail. In addition to featuring a wealth of very useful illustrations, graphs, and tables, these three volumes are clearly and accessibly written. All in all, Histoire de Québec et de sa région is an ambitious and impressive work of synthesis that will become the reference of choice for all matters related to the history of Quebec City.