Department Members Awarded New SSHRC Grants

3 October 2012 - Thunder Bay

The Department of History is pleased to announce that Dr. Ronald Harpelle and Dr. Michel S Beaulieu have been awarded over $200,000 in Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Grants.

 Dr. Harpelle is the principal Investigator on a $113,588 grant entitled "Pulp Friction: The Intersection of Globalization and Community." This project will produce a documentary film and website focused on shifting economies in the pulp and paper industry. His collaborators on the grant are former Lakehead University Finnish Chair, Dr. Hanna Snellman (University of Helsinki),  Dr. Diego Piñeiro (Universidad de la República, Uruguay), Thomas W. Dunk (Brock University), and Bruce W. Muirhead (University of Waterloo).

 Dr. Beaulieu is the principal investigator on a grant worth $76,600.  This new media project is entitled "'Hard Work Conquers All': Mobilizing Knowledge about the Finnish Experience in Canada," and it will turn the Finnish Labour Temple in Thunder Bay into a virtual museum. Dr. Harpelle is a co-applicant on the project, and collaborators include Kelly J. Saxberg, Samira S. Saramo (York University), and Dr. Hanna Snellman (University of Helsinki). Partners include the City of Thunder Bay, Finlandia Association of Thunder Bay, Lakehead University Library, Northwestern Ontario Archivists Association, Thunder Bay Finnish-Canadian Historical Society, and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.

 Dr. Harpelle has also been awarded a SSHRC  LOI worth $20,000 for the development of a Partnership Grant project "Research TV: A New Media Network for Social Science and Humanities Research." Co-applicants include Dr. Connie Nelson (Lakehead University), Dr. Noreen Golfman (Memorial University of Newfoundland), and Dr. Myra Hird (Queen's University). Dr. Wesley Shrum (Louisiana State University) is also a collaborator. Partners on the grant include ItSticks Inc., Lakehead University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Queen's University, University of Alberta - Division of Community Engagement, University of Saskatchewan - Division of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Science, Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic:  A Northern Research Network, Yukon College, and Confederation College. 

Click here for the full Lakehead University SSHRC Grants announcement.

Peter Raffo Awarded City of Thunder Bay's Heritage Award

16 December 2012 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is pleased to announce that Dr. Peter Raffo has been awarded the City of Thunder Bay's Heritage Award as part of this year's Arts and Heritage Awards. Established in 2003, these awards honour individuals and organizations for their contributions to arts and culture.
In a career that has spanned four and a half decades, Dr. Raffo has researched and written on local history, produced radio documentaries for the CBC, and received numerous awards in recognition of his efforts. He has served as a lecturer, associate professor of history, and adjunct professor of history at Lakehead University since 1967. A tireless promoter of the history and heritage of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, Dr. Raffo's research, publications, and productions have enhanced the understanding of our historical roots, and ensured that our heritage is preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

Alumnus and Faculty Member Contribute to Special Issue on War of 1812

30 May 2012 - Thunder Bay
Articles by Jean Morrison (MA 1974) and Contract Lecturer Dr. Todd Stubbs published in a special issue of the journal Ontario History celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Jean Morrison's article, "To Promote the Interest and Security of the North West Company: Canada's Fur Trade and the War of 1812," examines "a lesser known cause of the invasion: the desire of the part of the British and the Americans to control and expand the territorial base of the fur trade in the west." Todd Stubbs' contribution, "The Scene of its Achievement: History, Tourism, and the Raising of HMS Nancy" examines the debate over the ownership and preservation of an artifact of the War of 1812, the schooner HMS Nancy. Stubbs concludes that the debate around the Nancy highlights the ways in which Ontarians conceptualize their history and historical meanings of place during a period of tremendous social, cultural, and economic change.

New Book on Finnish North Americans

21 March 2012 - Thunder Bay
Labouring Finns: Transnational Politics in Finland, Canada, and the United States is co-edited by Drs Michel S. Beaulieu and Ronald N. Harpelle and history graduate student Jaimi Penney.

The book, published by the Institute of Migration in Turku, Finland, examines the role labouring Finnish men and women played in shaping the political and social culture of their communities. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, Finnish workers in Finland and North America contributed significantly to the development of socialism in the political arenas in which they found themselves. In North America, the influence of Finns in the political process added an ethnic dimension to the ever-changing nature and character of socialism. Labouring Finns is a book about the role Finns played in interclass struggles at home and abroad.

History Professor's Film Tours Finland

6 September 2012 - Thunder Bay

The Department of History is pleased to announce that Dr. Ronald Harpelle’s recent film, Under the Red Star, which is a docu-drama directed by Kelly Saxberg about Finnish immigration and radicalism in Thunder Bay prior to the Second World War, has had a successful tour of Finland.
The film premiered in Kemijarvi, a town above the Arctic Circle where Dr. Harpelle was beginning principal photography for a new project, and then Under the Red Star travelled to the cities of Tampere, Turku and Helsinki. In Tampere it was shown at Westras, the Finnish Labour Museum, in Turku at the Institute for Migration and in Helsinki at the Orion Theatre. In Helsinki the evening was dedicated to Canadian historian Varpu Lindstrom who collaborated on the film project but who lost her battle with cancer earlier this summer. The evening began with opening remarks by former Finnish politician, Arja Alho, by the Canadian Ambassador to Finland, Mr. Chris Shapardanov, and by Varpu’s son, Lt-Col. Alan Best.
Under the Red Star is funded in part by the Ontario Arts Council, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and Finland’s Institute of Migration, and it includes two of Finland’s finest stage and screen actors, Elena Leeve and Jussi Nikkilã. Under the Red Star has is also an Official Selection for Cinéfest 2012, one of Canada’s biggest film festivals and the 2012 Canadian Labour International Film Festival. The film is also slated to screen at several other festivals, forums or special events in Canada and the United States during the upcoming year. For updated information about the film visit the Under the Red Star Facebook page.
While in Finland Dr. Harpelle was also interviewed, along with former Lakehead University Finnish Chair, Dr. Hanna Snellman, by the Helsingin Sanomat and other news organizations about his current film project which is funded by an SSHRC Public Outreach Grant.  Dr. Harpelle’s new project is called “Pulp Friction: the intersection of globalization and community,” and it focuses on shifting economies in the forest industry in Canada, Finland and Uruguay.

New Publication on Global Forestry Edited by History Professors

21 December 2012 - Thunder Bay
William Lyon Mackenzie King once observed about Canada that, "if some countries have too much history, we have too much geography." This is true of Northern Ontario, where the boreal forest covers 40 million hectares and small towns are the norm. However, Northern Ontario's economy has been hard hit over the past several years, resulting in significant job losses in the forest industry and major economic and social shifts.
While most studies of globalization focus on industrial cities in densely populated regions like Southern Ontario, Pulp Friction: Communities and Forest Industry in a Global Perspective examines the impact of global forces on the industrial centres of the boreal forest region with a reflection on the new forest industries in the Global South. The friction generated by these shifts is the essence of the research presented in this study. 

The Centre for Northern Studies publishes original peer-reviewed, high-quality academic books in all areas relating to Northern Ontario, the Provincial Norths, the Territorial Norths, and the Circumpolar World.  If you are interested in submitting a project for consideration, guidelines can be found at

History Professor Contributes to New Book on the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment

17 December 2012 - Thunder Bay
Major David Ratz has written an introduction and lent his editorial skills to the book Letters to Leah, a memoir relating about the Second World War experiences of Lake Superior Regiment (motor) veteran Michael Fedak.
Born in 1924 in the Village of Brooklands, Manitoba, Fedak  served during the Second World War with the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) in Europe from mid 1944 to 1946. After the war ended Michael married Vera McGeoch, his Scottish sweetheart he met while on leave and settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his young family. In 2002, Michael's granddaughter Leah went to Denmark to attend school. He began writing letters relating his wartime experience to her. The result of those letters is this book.

Lakehead Historical Society's first annual "Archive Crawl" a success

20 November 2012 - Thunder Bay
Reprinted from the Argus, 19 November 2012. Article by Stephanie Raycroft

The stigma generally attached to the average student of history is that there are limited opportunities following graduation. Many students believe that their majors leave them with little choice other than teaching or writing about historical topics.
This could not be further from the truth. 
Such myths were a prime motivation of the recently re-established Lakehead University Historical Society (LUHS) in organising its first annual "Archive Crawl" Saturday, November 10. History majors and minors, as well as a few non-history participants, gained behind-the-scenes insight into the many opportunities offered after graduation at several archive locations throughout the city.
The group visited the Thunder Bay City Archives, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Thunder Bay Museum during off hours. They toured each location with representatives of all three, seeing things not always open to the public. Not only was this a great opportunity to feed their inner history-geek, but they were able to enhance their awareness of existing research for assignments, as well as exciting employment options.
At the Thunder Bay City Archives, Archivist Matt Szybalski discussed the different avenues that students could take after graduation, imparting valuable information such as various post-graduate opportunities. 
The LUHS hopes to, according to President Kyle Duckworth, draw attention to the many research bases off-campus and the plethora of career and post-graduate study prospects, and also raise awareness among the greater student body, especially history majors and minors, that the Historical Society is back and here to stay.
"The Archive Crawl was intended to act as a gateway for History majors to see the different types of jobs that are available to them other than teaching. The archives and museums were more than willing to show us around and allow us to come back and see their collection for [future] research," said Duckworth.
The first annual "Archive Crawl" was a huge success. It drew more attention than expected and all participants learned a great deal. Anthropology major Amy Szybalski said "It was a fantastic event that really showcased the historical richness that our city has to offer, but it also gave students an opportunity to really see what is out there and available to them in Thunder Bay as researchers." 
Keep your eyes and ears peeled, so to speak, for information detailing the next event, a historically-themed movie night to be held at the end of the month.

History Alumni Nominated for Publication Awards

12 November 2012 - Thunder Bay
The Department of History is proud to announce that five alumni of the department and have been nominated for a number of 2013 Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society's Publication Awards.
Every two years, the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society gives out awards for the best recent publications that deal with aspects of Northwestern Ontario's history. These awards are intended to help publicize such works, to recognize the excellence of local writers, and to encourage new authors to write about our history. The awards are given out in four categories: for full-length scholarly and popular works and for scholarly and popular articles. The winners are chosen by independent panels of judges in each category.

Nominated this year are work by Michel S. Beaulieu (HBA 2001; MA 2003), Jean Morrison (MA 1974), Roy Piovesana (HBA 1965; MA 1969), John Potestio (HBA 1970; MA 1981), and Steve Ross (HBA 2008; MA 2009). Information about each of their works can be found below.
Winners will be announced on 6 January 2013 at a Gala held at the Thunder Bay Museum. More information about this event  and a complete list of the nominations can be found at
Nominated for the Elizabeth Arthur Award for best full-length academic book:
Michel S. Beaulieu (HBA 2001; MA 2003). Labour at the Lakehead: Ethnicity, Socialism, and Politics, 1900-35. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011.

Nominated for the J.P. Bertrand Award for best academic article:
Steve Ross (HBA 2008; MA 2009). "Pragmatism and Prejudice: The Wartime Transfer of Japanese Canadians in Northern Ontario, 1942." Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Papers and Records (2010): 3-19.
Jean Morrison (MA 1974). "To Promote the Interest and Security of the North West Company: Canada's Fur Trade and the War of 1812." Ontario History, CIV:1 (Spring 2012): 162-184.
John Potestio (HBA 1970; MA 1981). "The Experience of Italians at the Lakehead during the Second World War Years."

Michel S. Beaulieu (HBA 2001; MA 2003). "Reacting to the Worker's Revolt: The Lakehead and the Winnipeg General Strike." Left History, 14:2 (2009): 8-32.

Nominated for the Gertude H. Dyke Award for best full-length popular book:
Roy Piovesana (HBA 1965; MA 1969). Italians of Fort William's East End, 1907-1969. Thunder Bay: Institute of Italian Studies at Lakehead University, 2010.

Michel S. Beaulieu (HBA 2001; MA 2003) and Chris Southcott. North of Superior: An Illustrated History of Northwestern Ontario. Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, 2010.

New Work by Department Members Published

31 October 2012 - Orillia and Thunder Bay

New publications by Drs. Pallavi Das and Valerie Hébert shed like on the the history of forests in colonial India and the Nuremberg Military Trials. 
Dr. Das’ most recent article “Railways’ Fuel and its Impact on the Forests of Colonial India: The Case of the Punjab, 1860-1884,” appears in the latest addition of the journal Modern Asian Studies (it can be read online at ). The article analyses the process and patterns of environmental degradation at regional level by taking the case of deforestation in colonial Punjab by studying its implication at the level of empire. 

Dr. Hébert has recently contributed a chapter to a new volume published by Berghahn Books. “From Clean Hands to Vernichtungskrieg: How the High Command Case Shaped the Image of the Wehrmacht,” appears in Reassessing the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, edited by Kim C. Priemel and Alexa Stiller. The book is the first comprehensive examination of the US Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and  brings together diverse perspectives from the fields of law, history, and political science, exploring the genesis, impact, and legacy of the twelve Military Tribunals held at Nuremberg between 1946 and 1949.Complete information about the book can be found at