Thunder Bay Museum and Lakehead University’s Department of History Team up for Free, Live Webinars

Hump Day History is intended to get you over the mid-week hurdle with a little bit about our region’s past. Every Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM EST (unless otherwise noted) for the months of April and May, the Thunder Bay Museum will be bringing you live broadcasts from local historians, as well as behind the scenes look at the museum’s collections.

These free live and interactive webinars will be moderated by Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu, Professor of History at Lakehead University, and Mr. Scott Bradley, the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society’s Executive Director.

Please check webinar dates on our Events Column and, to find out more, go to the museum webinar link here.

Dr. Michael Stevenson and co-writer Greg Donaghy article in "The Star" Valuable Read

Dr. Michael Stevenson, History and Interdisciplinary Studies has published an article co-written with Greg Donaghy in The Star (Toronto, online) titled "Lessons from the Second World War on sharing the burden equally."

It is an example of the value that the study of history has in helping to navigate difficult times.

Read the article link here.

In Memorium Roy Piovesana

Lakehead University is saddened to learn that Roy Piovesana passed away on the morning of January 20th after a massive heart attack. He was 77 years old.

For over 50 years, Roy was a pillar of the Thunder Bay community, a consummate booster of Lakehead University, and a role model and inspiration for generations of students.

Born in 1942 in what was the east end of Fort William then, he distinguished himself at Fort William Collegiate before attending Lakehead University as one of its first students.

Very active in the student life during those nascent years of the University, he was the first recipient of an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and was elected by his peers as the President of the inaugural graduating class in 1965.

In many respects, he can be considered the first graduate of Lakehead University.

Choosing to remain at Lakehead, he next became one of the first students to enrol in graduate programming. In 1969 he graduated with a Master of Arts in History, the first for that program and one of the first (if not the first) MA graduate of our University. Upon graduating, he immediately became involved in the establishment of what is now the Alumni Association of Lakehead University, serving as its second president.

Throughout his life, Roy used his education to pursue a career as a teacher - first at Westgate Collegiate and then later Hammarskjold High School where he eventually held the position of head of history from 1984 until his retirement.

Roy inspired hundreds of students to not only pursue post-secondary education, but to do so in their home community through his consummate boostering of Lakehead University and extolling the quality of education provided.

As a historian, Roy distinguished himself regionally, nationally, and internationally. A recognized expert on Italian-Canadian history and religious history, he authored numerous books and both academic and popular articles on the subject. Roy was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Chair in Italian Studies committee, now the Institute of Italian Studies at Lakehead University. In 2000, he was appointed archivist/historian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay.

Roy’s support for the University and its goals was all the more important as he held prominent positions throughout his life. Among them included President of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society during a crucial time in its history, leading the New Museum Committee that was central to the acquisition and renovations to its current home.

He also was one of the spearheads for the establishment of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and served as the president of its board from 1972 to 1982 (and on the board until recently). Roy also served as a trustee with the Canadian Museum of Nature between 1996 and 2007. Most recently, Roy served as President of the Institute of Italian Studies – Lakehead University.

Roy has been recognized by numerous organizations throughout his career. In 1999 he received a Citizen of Exceptional Achievement Award (Culture) from the City of Thunder Bay. In 2003 he was made an Honorary Life Member of The Thunder Bay Historical Society.

In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Department of History Alumni Honour Award, and in 2015 Lakehead University made him a Fellow in recognition of his substantial contributions to the growth and development of the university.

Roy’s contributions to Lakehead University were numerous, and his affinity for Lakehead University was manifested in his unwavering support and promotion since his graduation in 1965.

Those wishing to make a donation in Roy’s name might do so to the Roy Coran Memorial Scholarship at Lakehead University or any charity of choice. Funeral services will take place at St. Dominic’s Church on Friday, Jan. 24 at 11 am with a visitation beginning at 10 am.

Roy will be remembered in the Blake Funeral Chapel Memorial Grove annual dedication service on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

Visit this page for more about Roy’s life.

In honour of Roy, the Lakehead Thunder Bay flag will be lowered to half-mast on Friday, Jan. 24.

Photo in Memorium Roy Piovesano

Passing of J. Donald Wilson

It is with sadness that the Department of History shares that J. Donald Wilson passed away on 22 December 2019.

Following his graduation from the University of Western Ontario in 1959, Don joined the Department of External Affairs, working as a Foreign Service Officer until 1960. He returned to his studies, first completing a Master of Arts in History at the University of Toronto and afterwards beginning a PhD in History at UWO under the supervision of J.J. Talman.

After some experience teaching secondary school in London, Ontario, Don arrived in then Port Arthur, Ontario, in 1964 to take up a position as a Lecturer  teaching for a year in history and politics at Lakehead College of Arts, Science and Technology. A popular professor, he also quickly became part of the social scene in the city. He was on staff when Lakehead University was established in 1965 and, had he remained, would have  been one of the original faculty members.

Despite the urgings of many to remain, Don returned to UWO to complete his PhD. While completing his studies, he held Assistant Professorships at UWO and the University of British Columbia. He eventually came back to Lakehead University when he completed his PhD in 1971.

Don's courses from the period contained many "firsts" being taught in Canada and universities around the world, courses that, in larger institutions, would have never seen the light of day at the time but are now mainstays in post-secondary education. Don was at least a decade ahead in his thinking about Canadian and world history.

During his time at Lakehead in the early 1970s, Don established himself as one of the leading experts in Canadian educational history, contributing to the field with pioneering publications in nineteenth and early twentieth century education in Ontario and as one of the first historians to examine residential schools. While at Lakehead, Don also began a life-long personal and profession interest in Finland and Finnish Canadian history, holding a Visiting Fellowship at the Institute for Migration at the University of Turku, Turku, Finland in 1974.

At the same time Lakehead University experienced financial troubles in the mid-1970s, the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia approached Don and he was offered a position. Don taught at UBC from 1975 until his retirement as full Professor in 1999, and he then moved back to Thunder Bay. During that period, he continued to make a profound impact on the field of Canadian history, publishing more that 10 books and 65 book chapters and journal articles. He supervised and served as an examiner for dozens of graduate students over his career with many of his students becoming leading members of the field, both in Canada and internationally.

Don's work shed new light on various aspects of education in rural British Columbia and Ontario, of multiculturalism, women in education, separate schools, and residential and industrial schools. Don also established himself as a leading expert on Finnish Canadian history, particularly the lives of Matti Kurkka and A.B. Maakela and the settlement of Sointula, British Columbia.

Don also served the historical profession in a variety of capacities, significantly as a member of the Canadian Historical Association's council and as President of the Canadian History of Education Association. During his career, his publications were recognized by numerous national awards and, in 2016, the Canadian History of Education Association honoured him with its Distinguished Contribution Award for his contribution to scholarship.

Don's national and international reputation, though, always had its roots in Thunder Bay. Throughout the years, he always found his way home. It was during his periodic visits to the region during his career that much of his work was written. He also gave advice freely and never stopped acting as mentor to generations of historians in our community.