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 The John Bullen Prize

The John Bullen Prize honours the outstanding Ph.D. thesis on a historical topic submitted in a Canadian university.

The competition for the prize is now closed. The winners will be announced at the CHA Annual Prize Ceremonies that will take place at Ryerson University on Tuesday, May 30.

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John Bullen Prize Winners

2016

Sarah Ghabrial, "Le 'fiqh francisé'?: Muslim Personal Status Law Reform and Women's Litigation in Colonial Algeria, 1870-1930", Department of History and Classics, McGill University.

bullen_prize_winner_picture.jpgIn this beautifully written dissertation, Sarah Ghabrial brings together judicial, missionary, medical, and government documents from multiple archives in Algeria, France and Italy to provide a multilayered history of law, gender, politics and society in colonial Algeria. Ghabrial explores judicial cases related to family litigation to convincingly argue that personal status law in Algeria was the product of a relationship between French administrators, Islamic legal experts and litigants in a rapidly changing society. Not only does she shed new light on the relationship of law to culture, politics, and society, she also uses her insights to bring women to the centre of the story, showing how female litigants seeking justice in the courts influenced the shape of colonial law over the long term. She demonstrates considerable linguistic and analytical skills in exploring how the Muslim family became visible to the state via legal reforms that allowed colonial administrators to intrude into the most private spaces of Algerian domestic life and intensify their control of colonial subjects. She convincingly argues that legal interventions served to segregate and disenfranchise Muslim populations, and she restores, through her innovative analysis of specific court cases, the voices of women seeking assistance from the courts. This thesis is a first-rate achievement that will be of wide interest in the histories of colonialism, law, gender, family and society.  

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2015

Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda, Mujeres Que Se Visualizan”: (En)Gendering Archives and Regimes of Media and Visuality in post-1968 Mexico, University of British Columbia – Department of History. 

winner_bullen.jpgGabriela Aceves Sepúlveda’s thesis is a very engaging and captivating work that provides a complex, rigorous and sophisticated analysis of gender and politics in post-1968 Mexico. Through a local and transnational interdisciplinary lens, the author skillfully weaves together a variety of sources (Mexican secret services archives, private archives, interviews, photography and videography) to examine how the visual letradas or female artists’ counter-narratives to the male-dominated letrados appropriated the city, the media as well as the archives as sites of resistance and intervention. Sepúlveda’s research demonstrates how, by contesting the normative representations of the female body, these women had an impact on the streetscapes, urban life and the complex political landscape of Mexico City. This work makes a significant contribution to the field of women’s and gender history, and exhibits a sophisticated use of archives and diverse archival materials.

 

Honourable Mention

bullen_-_allandowney_2.jpgAllan Downey, “The Creators Game”: Aboriginal Racialized Identities in Canadas Colonial Age, 1867-1990, Wilfrid Laurier University – Department of History.

Allan Downey’s beautifully written and methodologically creative dissertation uses the game of lacrosse as an entry to illustrate how identity is formed, reformed and claimed. By combining documentary and oral records and by introducing the trickster figure Coyote as a way of reflecting Aboriginal epistemologies, “The Creator’s Game” illuminates an easily overlooked aspect of Canadian Native-Newcomers relations. This work’s original approach and its balanced use of multiple perspectives and sources offers a fascinating ethnohistorical account of lacrosse and makes a very significant contribution to Aboriginal history.

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2014

Nicholas Paul May, Feasting on the AAm of Heaven: the Christianization of the Nisga’a 1860-1920. University of Toronto – History Department

Through a novel approach, Nicholas Paul May’s insightful thesis examines the adoption and appropriation of Christianity by the Nisga'a people of British Columbia between 1860 and 1920. Rather than describing the process in the context of "colonizer / colonized", May instead relates the Nisga'a’s resistance to their Christianization and the details of their adjustments to the new religion. The history of the Nisga'a is reconstituted in a clear and concise style. Based on a critical and nuanced reading of the rich archives of Canadian and British missionary societies and on the testimonials of Nisga'a leaders, this work makes a significant contribution to the study of Christianity in the Americas and the history of Aboriginal people in Canada in particular.
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2013

Helen Mary Dewar. ¨Y establir nostre auctorité ¨: Assertions of Imperial Sovereignty through Proprietorships and Chartered Companies in New France, 1598-1663¨. History Department –University of Toronto, 2012

Helen Mary Dewar opens new perspectives on the history of the first decades of New France by inscribing this troubled period in the Atlantic context, from a perspective of the construction of the modern state and the French empire. By adroitly analyzing the designs and the exercise of authority and power entrusted to trading companies, she reconstructs the transatlantic networks of influence and skillfully weaves the complex web of tensions that are played out at the Royal Court and in the courts of provincial justice. This thesis has the potential to transform the interpretation generally advanced for the period 1598-1663 with regards to New France.

Honourable Mention
Ian Mosby, ""Food Will Win the War" : The Politics and Culture of Food and Nutrition During the Second World War ". History Department - York University.
Ian Mosby through a challenging study of nutrition during the Second World War, contributes significantly to the history of the welfare state, but also to the history of ideas and expertise. From a corpus of diverse sources, it addresses the home front very broadly, from multiple points of view. Written a lively and engaging style, in addition to being a wonderful example of the use of iconographic sources, this thesis will certainly attract a readership beyond the historical profession.

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2012

Katherine Walker, A gendered History of Pain, circa 1620-1740. History Department – McMaster University, 2011

Katherine Walker questioned certain areas of the history of medicine through a study of gendered pain as conceived and perceived by physicians and patients English in modern times. In constant dialogue with the relevant historiography, she manages to transcend the history of medicine to join cultural history and the history of the body and emotions. The end result is a finely written and nuanced study, original in its approach and its choice of gender as a category of analysis, which has the additional merit to raise new questions about this little known aspect of medical history.
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2011

Raul A. Necochea Lopez. "A History of the Medical Control of Fertility in Peru, 1895-1976." PhD Dissertation, History Department, McGill University, 2009
Raul Necochea Lopez provides a nuanced and crisply-written analysis of almost a century of fertility control policies in Peru. Drawing on extensive archival research, oral histories and an impressive multilingual secondary literature, he demonstrates the complex manner whereby various authorities attempted to enforce their preferred approach to fertility control, and how
local circumstances and actions often challenged or rebuffed these efforts. While his focus is on Peru, Necochea Lopez situates his research within a broader Latin American framework, incorporating useful international comparisons, and suggesting stimulating new directions for future medical history research.

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2010

Amélie Bourbeau. "La réorganisation de l’assistance chez les catholiques montréalais: la Fédération des Œuvres de charité canadiennes-françaises et la Federation of Catholic Charities, 1930-1972" (Department of History - UQAM)
Amélie Bourbeau’s dissertation explores the transformation of Montreal’s French- and English-Canadian Catholic private charities by tracing the development of the Fédération des Œuvres de charité canadiennes-françaises and the Federation of Catholic Charities from 1930 to 1972. In particular, she stresses the crucial role played by the lay directors of these federations in the processes of bureaucratization, secularization and professionalization of social assistance in Montreal. She also highlights the development of tensions between the leaders of the federations and the front-line social workers, set against the backdrop of the growing state control over public assistance during the Quiet Revolution. Her work convincingly demonstrates that the modernization of public assistance in Quebec cannot be understood without going beyond the traditional Church-State dichotomy to take into account the key roles played by lay and private actors in this process.
Sensitive to issues of class, culture, and gender, Bourbeau presents an original and nuanced study. Based on an extensive array of research sources which bear in mind the international context, La réorganisation de l’assistance chez les catholiques montréalais makes significant contributions to the historiography of the modernization of social assistance in Quebec, the rise of the welfare state, the social dimensions of the Catholic Church, the development of the Anglo-Catholic communities of Montreal, and the Quiet Revolution.
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2009

Sean William Mills. “The Empire Within: Montreal, the Sixties, and the Forging of a Radical Imagination” (Department of History - Queen’s University)
Sean William Mills explores the history of radical leftist intellectuals and activists in Montreal during the 1960s. Within the effervescence and agitation that characterize their thought and action during this period, he brilliantly untangles the common threads, discerning an overall unity. He demonstrates how, from 1963 to 1972, Third World decolonization theories were adapted to the Quebec setting and inspired struggles for the liberation of Quebec. Several groups of activists, both Francophone and Anglophone, aligned their specific claims to this shared theoretical outlook, thereby constituting a dynamic movement of anti-colonial resistance. Promoters of unilingualism, of Black Power, of women’s liberation, and labor radicalism were thus, for a time, united around a vast project of decolonizing Quebec. This alignment of forces proved to be temporary, and dissolved in the 1970s when activists were faced with the ambiguities and contradictions that resulted from applying decolonization theory - a theory initially developed for Third World countries - to Quebec. Sean W. Mills thus offers a new look at the relationships between groups whose causes were otherwise quite diverse. Moreover, he reveals that the radicalism of the period in Quebec must be understood in the context of international intellectual currents and political action, demonstrating that the history of "the West" was strongly influenced by its relations with the Third World.
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2008

Stuart Henderson. "Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto, 1960-1970" (Department of History, Queen’s University).
The Jury of the CHA John Bullen Prize is delighted to award the 2007 honor for the best PhD thesis defended in a history Department in Canada to Dr Stuart Henderson for his thesis titled: AMaking the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto, 1960-1970". Dr Henderson’s thesis, defended at Queen’s University, is a brilliant analysis of the creation and the development of one of the most interesting Acountercultural@ neighbourhoods, in Canada which became - in the 1960s - a symbol of youth revolt. The fascinating material presented by Dr Henderson is animated by his rigorous methodology and his wonderful prose. The thesis is an outstanding example of interdisciplinarity, using a variety of approaches and an extraordinary tapestry of primary and secondary sources. Dr Henderson’s thesis makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the recent past and is a vibrant proof that History can, and should, be written with passion.
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2007

Bruce Retallack, “Drawing the Lines: Gender, Class, Race and Nation in Canadian Editorial Cartoons, 1840-1926", (Department of History, University of Toronto, 2006).
Dr Retallack's thesis is an outstanding example of cultural historians' craft. The work is based on extensive, original research, and addresses a little-known theme in Canadian history. Dr Retallack undertook a study of an area which has not been treated in depth by previous scholars. His trans-disciplinary approach enables him to draw upon the methods of history, journalism and history of art. The dissertation is a model of judicious argument and a skilful combination of theory and its practical application. The innovative analysis of images provides us with a deep, well developed and highly readable account of some of the most crucial issues facing the Canadian society during the studied period.
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2006

Deborah Joy Neill. “Transnationalism in the Colonies: Cooperation, Rivalry, and Race in German and French Tropical Medicine, 1880-1930". (Department of History/département d’histoire, University of Toronto/Université de Toronto, 2005).
Deborah Neill’s thesis is an outstanding innovative work of exceptional scope. Adopting a comparative approach to historical enquiry, she explores the connections between three major themes: medicine, imperialism and racism in the African empires of France and Germany during the period 1880 to 1930.
Challenging the conventional view of the age of imperialism before First World War as an age of national competition for colonies, she forcefully shows that in the field of tropical medicine, unity and cooperation characterized the relations between the scientists and doctors of the two European colonial powers. Her comparative analysis of health services in Cameroon and in Afrique équatoriale française, and especially her case study of the German and French campaigns against sleeping sickness, make clear that while working together to protect fellow Europeans from tropical diseases, European scientists and doctors shared a profound disregard for Africans as human beings.
Neil demonstrates an impressive ability to reconcile and seam together the various strands of archival and secondary material coming from distant areas of historical research: history of science and medicine, theories of race and ethnicity, history of colonialism. And one must add, all this in three linguistic dimensions, drawing upon French, German and Anglo-American historical material. A first-rate humanist achievement.
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2005

Derek Neal. Meanings of Masculinity in Late Medieval England: Self, Body and Society. (Department of History, McGill University , 2004)
Derek Neal's exploration of masculinity in late medieval England stands out from its peers by virtue of its ambition, verve, and deft handling of a breadth of sources and approaches. The dissertation moves seamlessly from the male social self, revealed by interpersonal relations with other men and with women, inward to the physicality of the male body, and finally to the psychic interior of the male subject. Each level of analysis calls for different types of evidence and different theoretical tools, which Neal draws from gender theory, literary criticism, and psychoanalysis, applying each where appropriate while avoiding incoherence and derivativeness. Confronted by the limitations of his sources, Neal engages his readers in an open dialogue about the use of literary and legal evidence with an intellectual maturity and wry humour rarely seen at the doctoral level. While parts of the analysis remain speculative and may prove controversial, this work when published will contribute not only to medieval history but also to an increasingly sophisticated discussion of the problems and prospects of gender studies more broadly.
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2004

Nadine Leeann Roth. Metamorphoses: Urban Space and Modern Identity, Berlin 1870-1933. (Department of History, University of Toronto , 2003)
Nadine Leeann Roths study of urban space and identity in Berlin makes a major contribution to German historiography, to the topics of modernism and modernity, and to cultural history more generally. Her exploration of the transformation of the Postdamer Platz and the Auguste-Viktoria Platz demonstrates the qualities of a genuine interdisciplinary approach, including the techniques of architectural history, the influence of critical theory, and the meticulousness of archive-based research. Roth draws on an impressive array of source materials, ranging from newspapers to photographs to architectural journals to contemporary accounts. She writes with a confidence, skill, and clarity that will appeal to a wide audience. In a host of ways, then, Roths thesis represents a beautifully crafted work, well deserving of the John Bullen Prize


Honourable Mention:

Keith Thor Carlson. The Power of Place, the Problem of Time: A Study of History and Aboriginal Collective Identity. (Department of History, University of British Columbia, 2003)
Keith Carlson's thesis is richly deserving of an Honourable Mention in this years John Bullen Prize competition. His exploration of the pre- and post-contact forces that shaped the ways in which the Stó:lõs' people of British Columbia created a sense of their history is at once complex and compelling. Carlson draws on multiple lines of evidence (archaeological, documentary, and oral) to demonstrate convincingly how the St:ls own sense of the past informed the transformation of their identity from local tribes to a larger, self-aware nation. The thesis makes a significant contribution to the historiography of British Columbia and, more widely, to the historiography of First Nations in Canada.
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2003

Myra Baillie, The Women of Clydeside: Women Munition Workers in the West of Scotland During the First World War (McMaster University)
This is an exceptional thesis, and an important contribution to the fields of labour history, the history of women, and the history of industrial relations in the early twentieth century. On the basis of fresh scrutiny of an impressive variety of contemporary sources, the author engages in a nuanced treatment of class and gender, working conditions, and health and nutrition in the industrial milieu. Dr. Baillie makes a compelling argument in favour of a microhistorical analysis of women in the many dimensions of urban life, home and work. In the course of her study she revises the findings of previous scholars and offers new interpretations about factory conditions on Red Clydeside. The research effort here is meticulous, the theoretical skills the author deploys are of first-rate quality, and the writing style highly professional. Dr. Baillie's sharp eye for the telling detail of local context and her methodological originality show that an assiduous, sensitive researcher can shed new light on well explored territory. The result is a thesis that offers a near perfect combination of quality and originality.


Honourable Mention:

Rebecca Wittmann, Holocaust on Trial? The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial in Historical Perspective (University of Toronto)
This is an extraordinary study, one that will un2009-06-13ies of focused, cogent arguments based on a thorough reading of newly-released materials relating to the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial of 1963-65, and the social, political and legal circumstances that preceded it. She grapples in confident fashion with the complexity of the German legal penal code and legal discourse, and bases her conclusions on an impressive range of German-language newspapers and other writings, including a significant body of materials generated by the trial itself. The author shows extraordinary sensitivity in her treatment of evidence that is by its nature disturbing, as well as a fine sense of the place of her sources in the context of Holocaust studies. Dr. Wittmann's measured reasoning will ensure that her work will be read, enjoyed and discussed in years to come.
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2002

Mark Gregory Spencer, The Reception of David Humes Political Thought in Eighteenth-Century America (University of Western Ontario)
This thesis offers an exhaustive and original investigation of the ways in which the writings of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume were transmitted to Revolutionary America. It posits a series of challenging hypotheses, then explores each of these in a series of carefully structured and strongly supported arguments. The thesis makes a ground-breaking contribution to the history of the book, but a great deal more, too: it presents exciting and novel arguments about the extent to which eighteenth-century thinkers absorbed Humes complex theories and applied them to the circumstances of the early American republic. It demonstrates skills in a wide number of disciplines, including intellectual history, political theory and philosophy, seldom found in doctoral dissertations and a rare understanding of the ways in which these disciplines intersect, complement and supplement each other. The range of archival materials upon which the author draws is nothing less than astonishing, and Spencers treatment of these sources demonstrates a firm understanding of the vagaries of manuscript and printed materials. The thesis is written in an elegant and highly readable style and will no doubt be widely read and of great interest to American, continental and British scholars alike.
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2001

Robert A. Ventresca, In God's Country: State, Society and Democracy in the Italian Election of 1948 (University of Toronto)
Monsieur Ventresca nous présente ici une œuvre novatrice, fascinante et importante. S'ils concernent l'élection italienne de 1948, les résultats de Ventresca ont une portée sur l'histoire de la politique et de la culture italiennes de la deuxième moitié du siècle et sur des aspects clés de la guerre froide qui s'annonce. Avec grande clarté, l'auteur décrit les héritages politiques qui ont mené Mussolini au pouvoir et les conséquences de sa chute en 1943. Dans son examen de la coalition anti-fasciste de 1943à 1945, Ventresca dresse de superbes portraits des personnalités et des politiques des principaux acteurs; en effet, dans toute sa thse, Ventresca fait preuve d'une grande adresse dans la description des individus sans perdre de vue les vastes forces politiques et sociales qui les ont faonns. La thèse puise à un large éventail de sources internationales, y compris les documents récemment découverts sur le rôle de la politique sovéitique dans l'élection générale de 1948. Facile à lire, la thèse est une contribution significative à l'histoire de l'Italie d'après-guerre et à la compréhension tant de la politique américaine que soviétique dans la guerre froide qui, alors, se profile. Il faut noter qu'un membre de longue date du comité du prix John Bullen a dit de cette thèse qu'elle était « la plus solide, et de loin, parmi celles présentées » depuis les derniers trois ans.
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2000

Peter Gerald Bannister, The Custom of the Country: Justice and the Colonial State in Eighteenth-Century Newfoundland (University of Toronto)
Dr. Bannister's work is outstanding, especially his arguments that Newfoundland should be understood not as 'primitive' because of its lack of conventional British legal and political institutions, but rather as a vigorous society in which custom, common law and the policing of the British navy collectively contributed to a complex, fully functional society. Dr. Bannister writes lucidly about the manner in which the Royal Navy, drawing on the notion of legal precedent, exercised law before the advent of an elected Colonial Assembly in 1832. He sheds valuable light on the ways in which the Anglo-Irish settlements were governed by explaining in meticulous fashion the process by which law was established, negotiated and contested.
Dr. Bannister's arguments challenge convincingly a great deal of the traditional historiography of Newfoundland and, more generally, contribute to a deeper understanding of the British Empire's diversity. As such, his work transcends Newfoundland history as construed narrowly and in isolation from the larger, comparative imperial framework. The arguments of the thesis, especially those regarding legal matters, are constructed with an admirable clarity, alas so often lacking in other works that treat such historical materials. His thesis is also makes a significant contribution to the ongoing debate concerning state formation in historical literature, particularly among Canadian and American historians.


Honourable Mention:

Susan Neylan, The Heavens Are Changing": Nineteenth Century Protestant Missionization on the North Pacific Coast (University of British Columbia)
Dr. Neylan's work focuses on the interaction between Protestant missionaries and Northwest Coast natives in British Columbia from the mid-nineteenth century to 1900. She argues in respect of the central issue of 'power' that the Natives were far from merely the agents of European proselytizing, and that the Aboriginal people had significant agency in the interactions, often leading to modifications in Christian thought and practice. By contrast, there occurred many distinctive Native (Tsimshian) incorporations of Christian doctrine and practice. In this sense, the encounters are rightly portrayed as 'dialogic', rather than as conversions which were the result of simplistically conceived Native victimization.
Dr. Neylan's superb intelligence is manifested in the manner in which she 're-reads' the sources and integrates into her analysis both past literature on the subject and effective insights from theorists, notably Michel Foucault. Her writing is subtle yet firm and lucid, and demonstrates a profound knowledge of native religious practices and varieties of Christian theology. Her thesis will have a significant impact on international studies in Native/Christian interactions.
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1999

Philip Girard, Patriot Jurist: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax, 1800-1878 (Dalhousie University)
Dr. Girard's thesis provides a complex and sophisticated analysis of the life and times of one colonial lawyer. Using the genre of biography, readers are made privy to a broad range of topics, including a formidable analysis of Nova Scotia and British law, an original account of Murdoch's stand against Joseph Howe's campaign for responsible government, and a nuanced study of family, gender and professional relationship in the developing world of Halifax and colonial Nova Scotia. Dr. Girard demonstrates a masterly command of his extensive primary and secondary sources, while consistently engaging the reader with a crisp, literary style.


Honourable Mentions:

Robert A. Campbell, Hotel Beer Parlours: Regulating Public Drinking and Decency in Vancouver, British Columbia, 1925-1954 (Simon Fraser University)
Dr. Campbell interprets society's responses to public drinking as driven by attempts at moral regulation, rather than by the vague concept 'social control'. By this method of explaining behaviour as managed through a multiplicity of 'regulatory actors', Dr. Campbell recognises the complexity of human behaviour, thereby leading him to analyse how efforts to make regulation seem normal and natural in effect revealed negotiations that were both contested and constructed. The thesis is written in an engaging manner.
Matthew Hendley, Patriotic Leagues and the Evolution of Popular Patriotism and Imperialism in Great Britain, 1914-1932 (University of Toronto)
This work reveals the continuity of some Conservative imperial organisations which were able to adjust to the changes in British society brought about by the Great War. Demonstrating a daunting range of sources, Dr. Hendley contributes important ideas to an explanation of the survival and persistent influence of the Right in Britain during the interwar period. He is especially searching when illustrating the critical role played by British women in such organisations as the Victoria League and the Primrose League. The thesis effectively discusses women's contribution to such issues as the family, education and the empire by an analysis of the metaphors in the rhetoric and pamphlets of the leagues. Dr. Hendley writes with a fluent prose style.
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1998

Jeffrey L. McNairn, "The Capacity to Judge": Public Opinion and Deliberative Democracy in Upper Canada, 1791-1854 (University of Toronto)

John N. Vardalas, "Moving Up the Learning Curve": The Digital Electronic Revolution in Canada, 1945-70 (University of Ottawa)
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1997

Daniel Wright Clayton, "Islands of Truth": Vancouver Island from Captain Cook to the Beginnings of Colonialism (University of British Columbia)
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1996

Marven Helmut Krug, Civil Liberties in Imperial Germany (University of Toronto)
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1995

Sara Z. Burke, Seeking the highest good: social service at the University of Toronto, 1888-1937 (Carleton University)
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1994

Christine Métayer, Écrivains publics et milieux populaires à Paris, sous l'Ancien Régime. Le cas des écrivains des charniers du cimetière des Saints-Innocents (Université Laval)
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1993

Peter E. Pope, The South Avalon Planters, 1630-1700: Residence, Labour, Demand and Exchange in Seventeenth-Century Newfoundland (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
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1992

Rusty Bittermann, Escheat!: Rural Protest on Prince Edward Island, 1832-1842
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1991

Tina M. Loo, Law and Authority in British Columbia, 1821-1871


Mention honorable :

Royden Lowen, Family, Church and Market: A History of a Mennonite Community Transplanted from Russia to Canada and the United States, 1850-1930

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