I am originally from Gravenhurst, Ont., and completed my Honours BA and MA in history here at Wilfrid Laurier University. I then received my PhD in history from the University of Western Ontario in early 2009.
Prior to coming to Laurier in 2014, I taught at Mount Royal University in Calgary (2008-2011) and Memorial Univeristy of Newfoundland (2011-2014).
I am currently researching the social history of the North American fur trade, specifically the experiences of French Canadian voyageurs and their families in the Great Lakes and Northwest regions. Studying these ordinary people from the 18th and early 19th centuries involves inter-linking a variety of record types, including genealogical databases, parish records, notarial records, legal records, newspapers, voyageur contracts, account books, fur trade journals, and correspondence. This project grew out of a dual interest in my family's genealogy and history as well as the digital historical methods I developed in earlier projects.
My major writing project at the moment is a biography of fur trader Alexander Henry the Elder (1739-1824). I hope to write a book that will illuminate the importance of kinship networks, land speculation, illicit trade, and the American revolution in the early North American fur trade while showing how British Canadians and imperialists later re-imagined that story in a way that supressed the complexity of the past and justified processes of dispossession. I came to this project serendipitously while reconstructing voyageur life histories and kinship networks through a chance discovery: I found that Alexander Henry’s famous and influential memoir, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories, was, in fact, written by little known English children’s author Edward Augustus Kendall – a fascinating story of deceit and misrepresentation that I recently documented in the Michigan Historical Review.
While working on these new projects, I am also overseeing the final stages of the “Aftermath: Canadian Veterans and the State” project, housed at the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada (formerly the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies). This SSHRC Insight Grant funded project (2013, 2018), which led to the digitization of more than 100,000 First World War Canadian veterans’ files in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, will create an essential resource for social historians, family historians, and genealogists. These digitized files document the lives of veterans, their families, and their kinship networks through their interactions with the state between 1915 and approximately 1950. Over the past few years, a team of graduate students and associated researchers have been analyzing these files to study a variety of questions related to social, military, and family history. In 2023, a special issue of the journal Canadian Military History will bring together eight papers based on these records written by leadings scholars and graduate students in the field and will be the culminating publication outcome for this important project.
I have also written books and articles on the 1918 influenza pandemic, public health in Canada, and shell shock in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as well as military operations in the First World War.
At the moment, positions in the "Aftermath" program of research into the history of Canadian veterans and their families are full. I am currently interested in supervising students at the MA and PhD levels in areas of Pre-Confederation Canadian history, including in the fur trade, digital history, and 18th century military history.
Selected Articles and Chapters in Books
Recent Courses Taught
HI126: War and Society in the Western World
HI292: History of Canada to Confederation
HI347P: Furs and Empire in North America
HI429/HI479: Research and Reading Seminars in the Canadian Fur Trade
HI656: War and Empire in the Great Lakes Region, 1700-1821
HI2XX: Digital Approaches to Family History
HI2XX: North American Histories to 1821
‘A Calamity from which no Relief can be expected’: Empire, Authority, and Civilian Responses to the French Occupation of Newfoundland, June–September 1762,’ Acadiensis XLIII, 1 (Winter/Spring 2014): 35-64.
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