Department Members Past and Present Recognised for Contributions

21 November 2005 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce that current faculty member Dr. Bruce Muirhead and former Department Chair, the late Tom Miller, have been named by the public as two of the forty most extraordinary men and women who have made a difference to the growth and development of Lakehead University. In addition, former Mayor Dusty Miller (the wife of the late Tom Miller) and Dr. Anita Chen, founding Chair of the Department of Sociology and wife of long time Department member Min-sun Chen, were also recognized.
To see the complete list go to
Dr. Tom Miller

A widely respected and, at times, provocative member of the Department of History who joined the staff of Lakehead Technical Institute (LTI) and helped guide Lakehead in its evolution to become a full-fledged University in 1965.
Dr. Bruce Muirhead 
A historian known for his groundbreaking work on Canada's foreign trade policy, recipient of a Lakehead University Distinguished Researcher Award, and author of several books including one on Louis Rasminskly, the first Jewish governor of the Bank of Canada.

Former Student and Local Historian Releases New Book

28 October 2005 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce the publication of former MA student  John Potestio's latest book, The Italians of Thunder Bay.  This study is the first to chronicle and analyze the experiences and contributions of Italians immigrants in Thunder Bay from the late nineteenth century to the present.
John Potestio was born in Grimaldi, Italy in 1939 and came to Canada with his family in 1953. He received a B.A. from Western University and a M.A. in 1974 from Lakehead University. He was a high school teacher for 23 years in Welland and Thunder Bay, retiring in 1996. He has published widely on the subject of Italian history in Canada and at the Lakehead.
His publications include the following books:
- In Their Footsteps: Reflections on the Legacy of Italian Immigrants to Thunder Bay (2002)
-  In Search of a Better Life: Emigration to Thunder Bay from a Small Town in Calabria (2000) 
- The Italian Immigrant Experience (with A. Pucci) (1988)
- Thunder Bay's People (with A. Pucci) (1987)
- The Memoirs of Giovanni Veltri (1987)
- The History of the Italian Mutual Benefit Society, 1929-1984 (1985)

All of these works are available at the Lakehead University Library and the Thunder Bay Public Library.

Adjuct Faculty Member Receives Research Award

28 October 2005 - Thunder Bay
On 28 October 2005, the Lakehead University Senate Meeting awarded Dr. Syed Serajul Islam, Chair of the Political Science Department and adjunct member of the Department of History,the 2005 Contribution to Research Award.
Dr. Islam was also the recipient of The 2005 Contribution to Teaching Award.

Dr. Islam can be reached by email at or by telephone at (807) 343-8157

Dr. Bruce Strang named one of Ontario’s 64 Best Lecturers

8 October 2005 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce that Dr. Bruce Strang has been named by TV Ontario's popular program BIG IDEAS as one of the province's 64 best lecturers.

As part of its fall lineup, BIG IDEAS initiated a search for Ontario's best lecturer. They wanted students and faculty to nominate those individuals who were best able to engage students because they inspire and because they are memorable as great performers. They also wanted names of professors whose classes were not to be missed. Dr. Strang made the top 64 from an original field of over 359 nominations.


Department Member Releases New Book

19 May 2005 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce the publication of a new book by Dr. Peter Raffo. From Institution to Community: A Transformation of Psychiatric Services chronicles the history of the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital (LPH) from its earliest beginning and outlines the development of care provided over the course of its existence from the perspective of clients, family members, and staff. This book is also intended to serve as an educational tool, not only for the preservation of the past, but also as a means of combating the stigma that continues to impact people who have mental illnesses. According to Carl White, President of St. Joseph's Care Group, (the organisation which commissioned the book) "Peter Raffo has written an accurate and true history of LPH. He has done an excellent job depicting the many achievements in mental health care over the years. St. Joseph's Care Group is proud to preserve this piece of history." 
The book can be purchased locally at the Northern Women's Bookstore and the Lakehead University Alumni Bookstore.

Graduate Students Receive Major Awards

20 April 2005 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce that current graduate students have once again distinguished themselves in this year's provincial and national funding competitions.  William Vinh-Doyle was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Graduate Scholarship (Master's level) and Rob Linke received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Department Member Wins Another Film Award

18 April 2005 - Thunder Bay
The internationally acclaimed documentary "Banana Split" has been named "Best Feature Length Documentary" at the Latin American Environmental Media Festival in New Orleans earlier this month. 
"Banana Split" was produced and directed by Dr. Ron Harpelle of Lakehead University's History Department, and local filmmaker, Kelly Saxberg. The Festival was seeking innovative and provocative films, videos, and digital media that address environmental issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the works needed to address issues of the environment and environmental justice.
"Banana Split" takes the viewer on a journey that begins with the hustle and bustle of a fruit market in Thunder Bay, and ends up with an examination of the daily challenges of life in Honduras. In addition to being a popular fruit in Canada, bananas are used as a staple food in more than 100 tropical and sub-tropical countries.

The Latin American Environmental Media Festival was sponsored by the Stone Centre for Latin American Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane University is one of the world's premier programs for the study of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Festival was a four-day event that showed films, videos, and innovative works in digital media, that bring attention to major environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean.
"Banana Split" has been shown at over ten film festivals around the world since its first screening in 2002. In 2004, the film won the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Deborah Fletcher Award of Excellence in Filmmaking. This award recognizes an outstanding international development film by a Canadian producer/filmmaker.
Dr. Harpelle is available for interview by calling 345-0221.

Former Student and Department Member Release Book

29 January 2005 - Thunder Bay

The Department of History is pleased to announce the publication of The Lady Lumberjack: An Annotated Collection of Dorothea Mitchell's Writings, (Lakehead university, Centre for Northern Studies),edited by Michel S. Beaulieu and Ronald N. Harpelle.

When originally published in 1968, Dorothea Mitchell's autobiography Lady Lumberjack was heralded as a significant achievement and a poignant reminder of the many women who "pondering their ability to compete in what was once a man's world." Not unlike the many thousands of European women who migrated to Canada at the turn of the twentieth century, Mitchell's life was one filled with adventure, hardship, determination, and perseverance in a time when women's roles were defined by all but themselves. Unfortunately, like many of these women, Dorothea Mitchell's life has been all but forgotten despite her many achievements both provincially and nationally that makes her life an important one that should be celebrated.

The Fatal Flower Project in conjunction with the Lakehead University Centre for Northern Studies is pleased to once again make available Dorothea Mitchell's remarkable story. This expanded republication of Lady Lumberjack and other stories penned by Mitchell marks the hundredth anniversary of her emigration to Canada and is intended to once more bring to light an individual who not only pondered "her ability to compete in what was once a man's world" but thrived in it.
For more information about the book visit or, in Thunder Bay, visit the Lakehead University Bookstore, Northern Women's Bookstore, and The Finnish Bookstore.