Canadian Historical Association recognizes UBC History profs

Two professors from the Department of History, Michel Ducharme and Robert McDonald, have won prizes at the 2011 Canadian Historical Association conference.

Sir John A. Macdonald Prize

Michel Ducharme was awarded the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best book in Canadian history for his latest work, Le concept de liberté au Canada à l’époque des Révolutions atlantiques (1776 – 1838).

Ducharme’s book outlines the different conceptions of freedom espoused by Canadian colonists and subjects, and demonstrates how these two concepts of freedom sparked the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in the 1830s.

Currently, Ducharme is researching the principles that Canada was founded upon. He hopes to illustrate that the debates that shaped Canada’s founding principles took place in the thirty years after the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions, from 1837 to 1867.

He is also examining the emergence of nationalist discourse outside of French Canada – in Central Ontario, the Maritimes, Acadian and Métis communities.

“The point is to move away from the idea that Canada was created from a partnership between two nations – English and French,” said Ducharme, “and see that there were more than two national identities that had an impact on the creation of Canada.”

During the fall, students can look forward to two courses with Ducharme. He will be teaching a course on the history of Quebec from 1840 to present day, and one on the Atlantic revolutions from 1776 to 1838.

Clio Achievement Prize, British Columbia

Robert McDonald was awarded the Clio Prize for lifetime achievement in Canadian history. A British Columbia historian, McDonald’s research focuses on the region’s development including themes such as racial and ethnic relations, population structure, economic development, and the political and institutional structures that evolved after European contact.

McDonald first became interested in BC’s history while working on his dissertation on the early history of Vancouver. This represented a shift away from the national focus in Canadian history and honing in closely on BC’s regional history, which McDonald says is “full of odd and often colourful characters”.

“One example was a man who changed his name through a bill in the California Legislature from William Smith to Amor De Cosmos, or ‘Lover of the Universe’,” said McDonald. “He ended up becoming the premier of the province and a Member of Parliament, but was always somewhat unstable and prone to outbursts of violence on the streets of Victoria.”

McDonald is currently working on a book on the political culture of British Columbia for the century after it entered Confederation. The book will explore the relationship between modernity and provincial politics from the 1870s to the 1970s.

Past UBC winners of the Canadian Historical Association prizes are Tina Loo, Tamara Myers, Dianne Newell, Paige Raibmon, and Peter Ward.

Written by Mary Leong
Article Published June 13, 2011