New Article Proposes New Approach to Exploring Climate Change

A new article by Dr. Pallavi Das proposing a new approach to doing history, a people's history of climate change, appears in the most recent issue of the journal History Compass.

While social scientific studies have provided useful insights into the phenomenon of climate change, they, however, do not take a historical approach to the impacts of climate change, and people's perception of it.

Historians have studied climate and its impact on the whole society but have neglected the everyday experiences and perceptions of climate change within a society such as ordinary people versus the elite perceptions, men versus women's experiences of climate change. Moreover, historians of climate have largely dealt with natural climate change in the distant past, but not with climate change caused by human activities.

Since climate change that the world is witnessing in the past century is largely anthropogenic, historians therefore cannot neglect present‐day climate change and its impact on society. Furthermore, although climate change is a global environmental phenomenon, the poor and the marginalized social groups are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change more than others. Hence, climate change and the history of climate change needs to be understood from the perspective of these vulnerable groups in a society.

"People's history of Climate Change" proposes a new approach to doing history: people's history of climate change.

The article appears in History Compass 16, no. 10 (October 2018).

New Film on First World War to Premiere November 4th at Community Auditorium

The Department of History is pleased to welcome faculty, staff and students to the premiere on 4 November of Where The Poppies Blow: The Lakehead at War, a new film by Dr. Ron Harpelle and Kelly Saxberg.

The docu-drama was produced with a focus on the Lakehead region’s participation of the First World War and as a commemoration of the end of the conflict in 1918. Where The Poppies Blow follows the story of the war through the experience of one soldier, highlighting the home front as well as events in Europe. It is intended as an educational film to inform people about the sacrifices that were made 100 years ago and about the many ways that people in our region participated in the conflict.

Funded by the City of Thunder Bay and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the film was shot in Super 16 mm and is a showcase of local talent, with dozens of actors, extras and crew from Thunder Bay and region. The film contains rare archival footage and photos and makes use of many items from the Thunder Bay Military Museum and Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.

Lakehead University alumni, faculty, and students played important roles in the production and post-production phases of the project. A French language version of the film will soon be available and both versions will be posted online with Dr. Harpelle’s other films. 

Where The Poppies Blow will screen as part of the City of Thunder Bay’s commemoration event at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium on 4 November between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The event is a family friendly event and free and open to the public.

New Publication Explores Orillia's Champlain Monument

Associate Professor Michael Stevenson's latest publication explores the controversial history of Orillia, Ontario's Champlain Monument. "'Free from all possibility of historical error': Orillia's Champlain Monument, French-English Relations, and Indigenous (Mis)Representations in Commemorative Sculpture" appears in the autumn issue of Ontario History

"The 1925 unveiling of the Champlain monument in Orillia capped nearly three decades of public commemoration of Samuel de Champlain's explorations in North America. Promoted tirelessly by local entrepreneur Charles Harold Hale and designed by English sculptor Vernon March, the monument was beset by controversy, construction delays, and cost overruns. Nonetheless, when completed, it was initially greeted with unanimous acclaim. Two overarching themes marked the monument. First, its backers sought to use it to improve frayed relations between Ontario's anglophone and Quebec's francophone populations. Second, the monument's design misrepresented the mutually beneficial relationship between Champlain and his Huron allies and promoted Eurocentric and colonial mentalities that marginalized the Indigenous contribution to the development of New France and Canada. While the first goal was largely unrealized, the second has resonated down to the present day" (taken from the abstract).

Reference: Stevenson, Michael S. "'Free from all possibility of historical error': Orillia's Champlain Monument, French-English Relations, and Indigenous (Mis)Representations in Commemorative Sculpture." Ontario History CIX, no. 2 (autumn 2017): 213-237.

New Book Recognizing Canada and Finland’s Relationship

Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu, Chair of the Department of History and President of the Alumni Association of Lakehead University, is a contributing editor to a new book recognizing Canada 150, Suomi 100, and 70 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Finland.Canada-Finland Cover  

Published by the Finnish-Canada Society in Helsinki and Canada’s Embassy in Finland, Canada-Finland, Celebrating 2017: A brave, hospitable and altogether admirable people celebrates those who have shown leadership, ingenuity, and perseverance in bringing the two countries closer through scientific cooperation, educational exchange, political and economic engagement, and through cultural and sporting achievements.  

Contributors to the collection include many current and past Lakehead faculty members and alumni now living around the world. The publication was also supported by Lakehead University’s Chair in Finnish Studies Advisory Committee. Internationally renowned historian and Companion of the Order of Canada, Dr. Margaret MacMillan, provided the forward.  

The book continues to form part of Canada’s recognition of the relationship between Canada and Finland and has been distributed widely by Canada’s Embassy to Finland, including a formal presentation to his Excellency, Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland last February.


Student’s Paper Ranked in the top 10% of the International Undergraduate Awards competition

History and Concurrent Education student Peter Walsh’s paper "History of the World Organization of the Scout Movement: From the Inception of Scouting to 1939” has been ranked in the top 10% of this year's international Undergraduate Awards competition. Peter’s submission resulted from research completed as part of his fourth year history seminars.

The Undergraduate Awards is the world’s leading undergraduate awards programme which recognizes top undergraduate work, shares this work with a global audience and connects students across cultures and disciplines. A non-profit organization, it has been under the patronage of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, since 2012.

Papers are adjudicated by a panel of experts from around the world to assess the entries submitted. Peter has also been invited to the UA Global Summit 2017, an invitation-only event that will gather 150 of our Highly Commended Entrants and Global Winners in Dublin, Ireland between November 7th-9th

For more information about the Undergraduate Awards, see

All Jazzed Up

Department of History alumnus Rick Lazar (BA 1970) is a World Music Legend. The founder of several innovative, Juno-award-nominated musical groups, his work with percussion and drums pulses with the heat of Afro-Latin-New World fusion and the cool rhythms of North American Jazz.

Read the complete story in the latest issue of  the Lakehead Alumni Magazine Journey:

You can also check out his Samba Squad Club Show, a live performance in Toronto:

Graduate Students Present at Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences

Congratulations to MA students Yawei Zhang, Peter DeLorenzi, and Michael McNeil who presented papers in June at the annual meeting of the Hungarian Studies Association of Canada, which was part of the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences held at the University of British Columbia.

Yawei (Alex) Zhang's paper looked at “The House of Terror Museum and the Politics of Memory in Post-Communist Hungary.” Peter Delorenzi discussed “Empire and the Jewish Experience in Early Twentieth-Century Hungary.” Michael McNeil presented a paper on “Franz Nopcsa and the Future of Empire: The Balkans and Beyond.”

This was the first academic conference for all three, and they represented themselves and the department very well.

Department Chair Elected President of the Ontario Historical Society

At its 131st Annual General Meeting, the Ontario Historical Society (OHS) elected Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu as the new President of the Society. 

The oldest and largest society in Canada, Beaulieu has been a member of the OHS Board of Directors since 2013. Beaulieu holds a BA (Honours), BEd, and MA in history from Lakehead University. He obtained his PhD in History from Queen’s University. He is a Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at Lakehead University and an Associate of the L.R. Wilson Institute of Canadian History. Beaulieu has also long been involved in the historical and heritage community provincially and nationally.

Beaulieu is currently the President of the Champlain Society, Vice-President of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, a member of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario’s board of directors, and a long-time member of the executive of the Archives Association of Ontario’s Northwestern Ontario Archivists’ Association. Beaulieu also serves on Lakehead University’s Board of Governors. In April 2017 he was appointed as the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.

Commenting on the position in the OHS's media release, Beaulieu commented: “I look forward to working with the Government of Ontario on behalf of our over 850 affiliated societies, member organizations, and member institutions that have played a key role in the cultural sector’s $25 billion contribution to the economy, a growth of 23% since 2010, and one which has outpaced the growth of some of Ontario’s largest sectors.”

To read the full media release by the Ontario Historical Society, CLICK HERE

New Work by Alumni and Faculty in the 2018 Papers & Records

The 2018 issue of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society's journal Papers & Records features articles by alumni exploring aspects of Northwestern Ontario's history.

In recognition of the hundredth anniversary of the construction of the “Outlaw Bridge” over the Pigeon River in 1917, alumna and part-time faculty member Beverly Soloway explores how it enabled the “Scott Highway” to connect the Lakehead with Minnesota providing a link to American personal and business interests, opportunities for a growing automobile service industry, and new ventures in travel and tourism. 

Alumnus Richard Mastrangelo examines how newsletters like The Steep Rock Echo and Steep Rock Features can be used to illustrate relationships between manager and miner for most of SRIM’s four-decade long operation. He argues that, together, the papers frame questions which go beyond records of mineral production and consumption. How did various groups negotiate and express positions on socially sensitive topics? Did the newsletters support free worker expression or manager dictation? How was control maintained and destroyed by broader political, social, and economic realities?

Alumnus Mark Chochla investigates the efforts of Dr. Edward Oliver, of Fort William’s Medical Officer of Health, to build a professional department of health that worked systematically to save the lives of infants and children during the early twentieth century. As Chochla demonstrates, Oliver was fearless in advocating policies to modernize the city and to improve the health of residents and had the courage to persist with public health reforms even when many opposed him.

The issue also features an interview with former Métis Nation of Ontario Senator the late Bob McKay (1935-2018). One of his life-long passions was the region’s lighthouses; having worked as a light keeper and caretaker for lighthouses on the Great Lakes until 1979. In 2014, Bob was one of the founders of what has now become Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior.

Papers & Records is a peer-reviewed journal co-edited by Beth Boegh and Department Chair Michel S. Beaulieu. Submissions on any aspect of the history and heritage of Northwestern Ontario are welcome (email



History Member Receives Contribution to Teaching Award

At the most recent meeting of Lakehead University's Senate, Dr. Steven Jobbitt was awarded a Lakehead University Contribution to Teaching Award.

The Contribution to Teaching Award is a student-nominated award that recognizes instructors who have demonstrated high levels of teaching performance at Lakehead University. 

Congratulations to Dr. Jobbitt for this recognition!