It’s once again the time of year when we reveal the nominees for the Wilson Book and Viv Nelles Essay Prizes. This year’s competition is as strong as ever, with an immense number of books and essays that deserve to be on our shortlist. Canadian historians are producing some amazing work and the number of nominees that we receive each year is proof of this!
Thank you all for your submissions and nominations!
We have come up with a shortlist of six books and two essays that we believe best fit our prize descriptions. Just like last year, both winners will be revealed at the CHA’s award ceremony. I will also publish a blog post revealing the winners shortly after for those of us not able to attend the ceremony in Vancouver.
Wilson Book Prize
The Wilson fellows, Ian, and I have settled on a short list of six books that we believe best fit the award’s description: “the book that offers the best exploration of Canadian history that, in the view of the Wilson Institute, succeeds in making Canadian historical scholarship accessible to a wide and transnational audience.” Last year’s winner was Kristine Alexander’s excellent Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s. This year, the nominees are:
- Ruth Bleasdale, Rough Work: Labourers on the Public Works of British North America and Canada, 1841–1882 (University of Toronto Press)
- Carl Brisson et Camil Girard, Reconnaissance et exclusion des peuples autochtones au Québec. Du Traité d’alliance de 1603 à nos jours (Presses de l’Université Laval)
- Allan Downey, The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press)
- Allan Greer, Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires, and Land in Early Modern North America (Cambridge University Press)
- Rhonda Hinther, Perogies and Politics: Canada’s Ukrainian Left, 1891- 1991 (University of Toronto Press)
- Douglas Hunter, Beardmore: The Viking Hoax that Rewrote History (McGill- Queen’s University Press)
Written by Ruth Bleasedale, one of Canada’s most respected labour historians, Rough Work is a deep and complex analysis of the labourers that built our railways and canals in the second half of the nineteenth century. Bleasdale particularly focuses on their day-to-day lives and how they were affected by the period’s major socioeconomic changes.
In Reconnaissance et exclusion des peuples autochtones au Québec, Carl Brisson and Camil Girard examine the long history (from 1603 to today) of settler-indigenous treaties in Quebec. As the title suggests, once recognized as allies and commercial partners, Indigenous populations have (since the Royal Proclamation of 1763) been increasingly excluded from the political and judicial process. This book provides a very accessible overview of this process of exclusion that will undoubtedly interest more than historians.
What more can we say about Allan Downey’s The Creator’s Game? Already the winner of many awards, and surely many more, Downey’s book is about more than Lacrosse. It uses the iconic sport to analyze settler-Indigenous relations and indigenous identity formation.
Next up, we have Allan Greer’s Property and Dispossession: Natives, Empires, and Land in Early Modern North America. A detailed and mature survey of property in North America, this book analyses the different ways North America’s empires managed property and how they led to the dispossession and displacement of Indigenous populations.
In Perogies and Politics, Rhonda Hinther provides an analysis of the history of the Ukrainian community in Canada and the political left. She not only shows how important this Ukrainian community was to the political left in Canada more generally, but by bringing their own cultural and political heritage to Canada, they became a distinct part of the Canadian left.
Finally, Douglas Hunter’s Beardmore analyses one of the most famous hoaxes of our time: the Beardmore relics. Found in Beardmore, Ontario, the relics were to many undeniable proof that the Norse had travelled to Northern Ontario. However, they didn’t, and Hunter tells the story of the hoax and the numerous people, including officials at the Royal Ontario Museum, that tried to hide it in order to safeguard the version of the past that they preferred.
Viv Nelles Essay Prize
And finally, we have two nominees for the Viv Nelles Essay Prize, a prize awarded to the graduate student paper that we believe best places Canada in a transnational framework. For 2017, the winner was Magdalene Klassen, a student at McGill University, for an incredible paper titled “Kanigitomekardlunga, or, wenn jemand eine Reise tut: ‘Authentic’ Inuit-German Encounters in Labrador and Germany.” Our two nominees this year are: 1. Cody Groat, a PhD candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University, for a paper titled “Commemoration and Reconciliation: The Mohawk Institute as World Heritage Site.” 2. Mack Penner, a PhD student at McMaster University, for a paper titled ““Towards Spontaneous Order”: Tom Flanagan, Friedrich Hayek, and Neo-Austrianism on the Canadian Prairies.” While Groat makes the case that Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ontario, a historically unique and globally significant site and now a symbol of reconciliation, should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Penner offers a complex analysis of Tom Flanagan’s intellectual development in the context of a transnational twentieth century process whereby the economic tenets of classical liberalism were reexamined and reformulated.
Please join us at this year’s CHA in Vancouver where we will announce the winners of both prizes!
Cover Image: Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman to have won the Nobel Prize, receives her award. Illustration by Svenska Dagbladet, 11 December 1909. Wikimedia Commons.