New Department of History Faculty Publication

Congratulations to Dr. David Ratz and Dr. Michel Beaulieu on the publication of their article, "Guard Duty for The Garries: Soldiers, Internees, and the History of POW Camp R," which appears in the most recent issue of Canadian Military History.  The abstract of the article reads as follows:

"With the outbreak of the Second World War, Winnipeg’s Fort Garry Horse (or Garries as they call themselves), like many units across Canada, found themselves mobilising and preparing to go overseas. However, when the order to embark on a train to Quebec was received in June 1940, it was not what many had hoped or expected. Instead of boarding a ship bound for England, they were instead sent to meet the first German prisoners of war sent to Canada to escort them to a newly established camp in northwestern Ontario at Red Rock. Using a series of interviews with veterans done in the 1970s as part of a larger oral history project by the Fort Garry Horse Museum, this article explores the Garries’ first encounter with the prisoners and how they navigated the expectation of “dangerous Nazis” with the reality of the diverse group of civilians who came down the gangplank at Quebec."

The article can be downloaded from:

History Alumni and Faculty Receive Publication Awards

The Department of History is pleased to announce that alumna Hanna Johnson (HBA 2019, MA 2021) and alumnus and contract lecturer Dr. Tom Peotto (HBA 2006, MA 2007) were recipients of awards at the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society's biennial Publications Awards.

Hanna Johnson received the George B. Macgillivray Award for best popular article focusing on the history of Northwestern Ontario for “Swedish Immigrants and Religion in Port and Arthur and Fort William, 1883 – 1914,” published in the Society’s Paper & Records in 2022. Hanna's article is based on the research undertaken while completing her Master of Arts degree.

Tom Peotto and Connie Nelson (Professor Emeritus of Social Work) were awarded the J.P. Bertrand Award for best scholarly article for “Food Production in the Wabigoon Basin: The First Nine Thousand Years,” published in the Canadian Historical Review volume 103, no. 4 in December 2022.

Hanna Johnson also was awarded the Ernest R. Zimmermann First Publication Award.

Adjudicated by an independent panel of jurors, the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society's publication awards are given out every two years for the best publications dealing with the history of Northwestern Ontario. This year's winners were recognized at a special event held on 17 April.

Current History Students and Alumni Recognized with Volunteer Service Awards

At the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society’s annual President’s Reception and Volunteer Recognition and Awards, several alumni and current students from the Department of History were recognized for their volunteer contributions.

Current Master of Arts student and alumna Bronwyn Chesterfield receives her certificate from President of the Society Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu.

For contributing 100 or more hours to the Society since the volunteer program was redesigned in 2021, certificates were presented to current Master of Arts student and alumna Bronwyn Chesterfield (HBA/BEd 2022) and Honours Bachelor of Arts major Dylan Dicarlo. Also recognized was alumna Jenna Kirker (HBA/BEd 2015 and MA 2017).

Since the volunteer program’s reconstitution in 2021, volunteers have contributed over 6,076 hours to the Society’s mission. "Our volunteers bring unique skills, experience, personal and professional networks, and other qualitative impacts that are not easily measured," said Scott Bradley, Executive Director of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society.

"Their contributions enable the staff and other volunteers to achieve greater levels of excellence," said Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu, President and Chair of the Society's Board of Directors. "Our volunteers contribute to the achievements of the organization across nearly every aspect of our operations and programmes. None of what we do would succeed without our volunteers."

For more information about the Thunder Bay Museum and its volunteer programs, visit:

New Edition of The North West Company in Rebellion: Simon McGillivray’s Fort William Notebook, 1815

First published in 1988 by the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, The North West Company in Rebellion: Simon McGillivray’s Fort William Notebook, 1815 is one of the few sources that provides an insider’s view of the gathering of North West Company shareholders at the company’s annual rendezvous at Fort William. Edited and introduced by the late Jean Morrison, alumna MA 1974, it remains widely referenced in academic and non-academic works exploring the North American fur trade, and it continues to be the most complete firsthand account of the events of 1814 and 1815 that would lead seven years later to the Company’s merger with arch-rival the Hudson’s Bay Company.Cover of The North West Company in Rebellion

This edition recognizes Fort William Historical Park’s 50th anniversary and features a new preface and edits by department members Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu and Dr. Thorold J. Tronrud. It has not altered the scope and meaning of the original text. Rather it has been updated to accommodate changes in the field since its first publication with additional notes and references. Taking advantage of modern technology and printing, this edition also expands the number of illustrations (courtesy of the collections of the Fort William Historical Park and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society). These are all changes and additions that Jean herself would have no doubt undertaken.

More information about the book can be found at

Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple Receives Major Grant

The Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple--a registered charity established by Kelly Saxberg, Michel Beaulieu, Ron Harpelle, and Nathan Hatton--has been awarded a Resilient Communities Fund grant of $150,000 by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  This grant will facilitate collaboration with non-profit groups to train and engage community members in the development of skills for digital media creation to tackle isolation and promote sustainability and resilience.  Several graduates of the Department of History's HBA and MA programs will also be involved in this initiative.

The project will be launched on Friday, 15 December, at 11:00am at the Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple office at 4a Court Street South, Unit 17.  Among those in attendance will be Lise Vaugeois, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, and Kelly Saxberg, the President of the Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple, who will talk about this new project and its expected impact in the community.

New Work by Alumni and Current Students in the 2023 Papers & Records

The 2023 issue of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society's journal Papers & Records features articles by alumni and students exploring aspects of Northwestern Ontario's history.

Cover 2023 Papers & RecordsAlumnus Greg Johnsen's contribution utilizes a scrapbook compiled over a century ago in 1914 by Fred Stephenson, the first supervisor of playgrounds in Fort William. "An Armageddon of Peace: Revisiting the Lakehead's Playground Movement" explores the Lakehead’s experience with the Playground Movement into a continent-wide, wartime context.

Alumna and current graduate student Taylor Laughton's contribution explores an aspect of the wartime leadership of Sir Robert Borden. "Conscription at the Lakehead: Fort William and Port Arthur During the First World War," stands out among other studies of the subject in Ontario in that it reveals an unusual degree of local opposition to the conscription policies of the federal government of the time.

Also in the issue is an article by historian Brent Scollie who has put his vast knowledge of our city’s legal and biographical history to good use in his study of the magistrates and judges of Thunder Bay between 1858 and 1968.

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

Department Members Awarded SSHRC Grant to Explore Historic Espionage Case

A new project being undertaken by Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu (Professor of History), Dr. David Ratz (Adjunct Professor of History), and Dr. Kari Alenius (Professor and Head of the History, Culture and Communications Research Unit at the University of Oulu) have been awarded a SSHRC Insight Development Grant.

"The Martin Incident: Espionage, the Image of Canada, and Forgotten Lessons" explores an international case of Russian espionage in the 1930s. A person using the alias Mary Martin, holding a fraudulently obtained Canadian passport, was arrested along with many of her associates in Helsinki, Finland on 27 October 1933. It was a case which involved most of the major state security services in North America and Europe and uncovered one of the most extensive international spy rings at that time. The project will explore this largely forgotten incident and understand the repercussions it had internationally on not only Canada’s role within international security and intelligence but also Canada’s role in global affairs. 

Dr. C. Nathon Hatton Recent Publishing of Book Chapter

The Department of History congratulates Dr. C. Nathan Hatton in his recent chapter published and his continued contributions of research and writing.


The Palgrave Handbook of Sport, Politics and Harm

First interdisciplinary exploration of sporting injury and harm draws out intersecting issues to do with sporting harm and gender, race, policy, democracy and capitalism Has most relevance in the US, but contains a global spread of chapter authors and highlights a range of international cases (Source: Springer Link)


Dr. Hatton wrote the chapter, "'Though He Was Evidently Suffering Great Pain, He Bore it Well': Public Discourse on Benefits, Risk and Injury in North American Wrestling , 1880-1914" (pp. 87-112).

colour photo book cover of The Palgrave Handbook of Sport, Politics and Harm

Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Announces Biennial Publications Awards January 2022

The Department of History congratulates award recipients Dr. Peter Raffo J.P. Bertrand Award, and Mr. Greg Johnsen (MA 2018) Ernest R. Zimmerman First Publication Award, and further congratulations to all the recipients and nominees. The Thunder Bay Historical Museum has issued this announcement in their press release, this year’s winners in their categories are:

M. Elizabeth Arthur Award:

full-length scholarly works

Benidickson, Jamie. Levelling the Lake: Transboundary Resource Management in the Lake of the Woods Watershed. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2019.

J.P. Bertrand Award:

scholarly articles

Raffo, Peter. “Saul Laskin and the Making of Thunder Bay.” Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Papers & Records XLVIII (2020): 5-39.

Gertrude H. Dyke Award:

full-length popular works

Skrepichuk, William P. Troop Treks of 1885: Documents and Illustrations (Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 2019.

George B. MacGillivray Award: popular articles

Lavoie, Edgar J. “Pioneering a Great Circle Route in Northern Ontario: Von Grounau’s ‘Greenland Whale’ Overnight in Longlac,”: Thunder Bay Historical Museum Papers and Records XLVII (2019), 76-85.

Ernest R. Zimmermann First Publication Award

Johnsen, Greg. “’Bats and Balls Have Been Sent For’: The Beginnings of Baseball in Thunder Bay, 1875-1889.” Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Papers & Records XLVII (2019): 86-106.

 For a complete list of nominees that includes faculty members Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu and Dr. David Ratz, and, alumni Elinor Barr, David Blanchard, and John Potestio go to the link