Past Winners

* Denotes the year in which the prize was awarded


Winners/Les gagnants 2015

Graduate/ Diplômé

Martha Attridge Bufton, "Solidarity by Association: The Unionization of Faculty, Academic Librarians and support Staff at Carleton University (1973-1976)," M.A. thesis, Carleton University, 2013.

Martha Attridge Bufton’s study of unionization at Carleton University in the early to mid-1970s is remarkably comprehensive for an MA thesis. Though examining an understudied subject, her thesis is well situated within the existing literature on unionization at Canadian universities. Bufton also incorporates an impressive amount of primary source material, including oral histories. Her sophisticated analysis of the dialectical relationship between status and class makes a convincing argument about how status and gender contribute to, rather than impede, collective action. Her use of E.P. Thompson’s “moral economy” is innovative, and her analysis of white collar unionization in the context of a literature that focuses on blue collar workers is nuanced. There is much that still needs to be written about the history of employment in higher education in Canada, and Bufton’s work is a noteworthy contribution that furthers that cause.

Undergraduate/ Non-diplômé

Joe Dauphinais, "Surviving the Depression: Unemployment, Relief, and Scraping By in Westman, 1930-1939," undergraduate essay written for Dr. James Naylor, Brandon University.

Joe Dauphinais draws upon a remarkable body of archival and oral history sources to explore the experience of living through the Great Depression in and around Brandon, Manitoba. Dauphinais makes connections to those scholars who have studied the social history of the Depression in other jurisdictions, particularly Denyse Baillargeon and Lara Campbell, but his primary source material enables him to richly contextualize the particular economic, political, and social circumstances of Brandon and its agricultural hinterland and to explore the survival strategies of those working people and farmers who suffered in hard times and struggled to find a way to survive.  Dauphinais's well-written and well-supported essay describes the political organization and networks of mutual support that made surviving the Depression possible.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2014

Graduate/ Diplômé

Bruno-Pierre Guillette, " 'Le Jour du Seigneur vendu à l’encan': regard sur la Commission d’enquête sur l’observance du dimanche dans les industries de pâtes et papiers du Québec (1964-1966)," M.A. thesis, Université du Québec à Montréal, 2012.

Bruno-Pierre Guillette, winner of the 2013 Forsey Prize for graduate work in laobur and working-class histoy.

Le mémoire de maîtrise de Bruno-Pierre Guillette, « "Le Jour du Seigneur vendu à l’encan": regard sur la Commission d’enquête sur l’observance du dimanche dans les industries de pâtes et papiers du Québec (1964-1966)», s'intéresse à un aspect de la culture ouvrière qui provoque, en pleine Révolution tranquille, un conflit de valeur alors que s'affrontent les représentants du capital, du mouvement ouvrier, de l'État et de l'Église catholique. S'appuyant notamment sur les archives du fonds de la Commission d'enquête sur l'observance du dimanche dans les industries de pâtes et papiers, sur les journaux d'époque ainsi que sur d'autres documents en provenance des principaux intervenants, Guillette propose une évaluation toute en nuance de ce conflit, des intérêts divergents de chacun et il explique finalement les raisons en faveur du statu quo, c'est-à-dire la poursuite ininterrompue des quarts de travail dans cette industrie. Chemin faisant, il démontre que ces travailleurs, comme ceux d'autres secteurs, ont développé leur propre conception de la conciliation travail-loisir. Conception qui s'oppose à celle du capital et de l'Église. Quoique l'Église et les travailleurs demandent la cessation complète des activités de cette industrie le dimanche, les objectifs des représentants ouvriers vont bien au-delà de la défense de la pratique religieuse en revendiquant la pratique, en famille et en communauté, de loisir en dehors des interventions du clergé et des entreprises. Ce mémoire illustre de belle façon l'importance qu'ont eu, dans l'histoire, les demandes de congé de la classe ouvrière, non seulement pour refaire ses forces et être en famille, mais aussi des jours de congé collectifs qui sont partagés par tous et qui permettent à l'ensemble des ouvriers de se retrouver dans des lieux communs afin de socialiser et d'exprimer une forme de solidarité.

Bruno-Pierre Guillette's Masters thesis, 'Le Jour du Seigneur vendu à l’encan': regard sur la Commission d’enquête sur l’observance du dimanche dans les industries de pâtes et papiers du Québec (1964-1966)," shines the spotlight on class and cultural relations in Quebec during the Quiet Revolution through a focused study of conflicts among capital, the state, labour, and the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of work on "the Lord's Day." Combing through the records of a government-appointed commission on Sunday observance in the pulp and paper industry, as well as newspapers and other documents produced by the main actors, Guillette offers a nuanced appraisal of the conflicts of vision and interest among the various players and an assessment of why the forces supporting a status quo of continuous shifts across seven days prevailed. In so doing, he demonstrates that pulp and paper workers of the 1960s, along with other working-class groups, had developed their own views of the balance between productivity and leisure, views that challenged the worldview of capital and Church alike. Though the Church and the workers both demanded that workers have Sunday off, the workers' representatives largely ignored Church notions that the purpose of a day off was to allow workers to attend to their religious duties; rather the purpose of a day of industrial shutdown was to unite both families and communities and give them a chance to determine their preferred leisures without interference by either companies or the clergy. This thesis illustrates effectively the historical importance of working-class demands for days off not solely for refueling themselves and spending time with family but also for days off in common with all other workers for socializing communally and implicitly demonstrating class solidarity.

Undergraduate/ Non-diplômé

Rick Duthie, "What Struck in '58: A Drama Representing the Culture of Mine Mill Local 598, Sudbury, Ontario, 1942-1962," thèse de premier cycle, Mount Royal University, 2013.

Rick Duthie's "What Struck in '58: A Drama Representing the Culture of Mine Mill Local 598, Sudbury, Ontario, 1942-1962," wins the 2013 Forsey Undergraduate Prize. Duthie has produced an engaging play with characters representing different perspectives among INCO workers about what kind of union and what kind of community they wanted to build in the face of a withering Cold War propaganda that branded as subversive both class struggle and workers' efforts to create their own cultural institutions. There is a great deal of heart and soul in this play that brings to life the hardships the workers faced when they organized a Mine Mill local at INCO, the local's success at creating a democratic unionism with a vision that went well beyond wage contracts, the devastating divisions created by an unsuccessful strike in 1958, and then the impact on the community of the narrow defeat of Mine Mill by a Steelworkers' campaign that took advantage of anti-communist hysteria. Rick Duthie brings to life this important history of Sudbury's working class. We congratulate him on his efforts and sincerely hope that the play will find a producer and audience in Sudbury and beyond.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2013

Graduate/ Diplômé

Jacob Aaron Carliner Remes, "Cities of Comrades: Urban Disasters and the Formation of the North American Progressive State," PhD thesis, Duke University, 2010.

Jacob Aaron Carliner Remes’s PhD thesis, "City of Comrades : Urban Disasters and the Formation of the North American Progressive State," examines an important moment in the rise of the technocratic state during the Progressive Era. Using a wide array of Canadian and American sources, Remes brilliantly examines the tensions arising between the state and working class survivors’ formal organizations and informal groups. As agents of the state moved into Salem, Mass., destroyed by fire, and to Halifax, N.S., ruined by a massive explosion, they imposed a new regulatory order on what they perceived as a chaotic social landscape. Citizens responded by accepting help, but, at the same time trying to maintain local sources of support and help: churches, unions, and families. Remes’s transnational work displays great insight and originality, with its stress on how rescue and relief operations are unavoidably political. Relief agents, even in our days, should be humble, he warns, because the objects of their assistance have local knowledge and resources relevant to fighting back against natural disasters.

Undergraduate/ Non-diplômé

Anna A. MacNeil, "'Spirit in the Face of Decline': The Formation of the Rise and Follies of Cape Breton Island, 1977-1985," undergraduate thesis, Cape Breton University, 2012.

Anna MacNeil presents a lively remembrance of a Cape Breton theatre group which used humour and satire to carry on a conversation via artistic performance with Island residents about the industrial devastation that the Island faced by the late 1970s and the stereotyping that Islanders continued to confront as they tried to deal individually and collectively with the loss of much of their economic base. The thesis makes excellent use of oral history in the form of interviews with most of the players in Rise and Follies in an effort to uncover their motivations for forming the Steel City Players and the ways in which their artistry both reflected and affected their audiences. The thesis also makes very good use of an array of primary and secondary sources in an effort both to put the Steel City Players in the context of economic and social developments on the Island and to reflect on the ways in which oral history helps to recreate phenomena for which the archival record seems insufficient to capture the full story.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2012

Graduate/ Diplômé

Jessica Johanna Van Horssen, "Asbestos, Quebec: The Town, the Mineral, and the Local-Global Balance between the Two," PhD Dissertation,  University of Western Ontario, 2010.

"From the late 19th to the late 20th century, the cities and industries of the world became increasingly reliant on fireproof materials made from asbestos. As asbestos was used more and more in building materials and household appliances, its harmful effect on human health, such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, became apparent. The dangers surrounding the mineral led to the collapse of the industry in the 1980s. While the market demand and medical rejection of asbestos were international, they were also experienced in the mining and processing communities at the core of the global industry. In the town of Asbestos, Quebec, home of the largest chrysotile asbestos mine in the world, we can see how this process of market boom and bust shaped a fierce sense of place and community.

This dissertation examines the global asbestos industry from a local perspective, showing how the people of Asbestos, Quebec had international reach through the work they did and the industry they continue to support today. It explores how the boundaries between humans and the environment were blurred in Asbestos as a strong cultural identity was created through the interaction between people and the natural world. This work advances our understanding of the interdependence of the local-global relationship between resource industries and international trade networks, illustrating the ways it shapes communities and how communities shape it. Bringing bodies of land, human bodies, and the body politic of Asbestos, Quebec into the history of the global asbestos trade highlights how this local cultural identity grew to influence national policy and global debates on commodity flows, occupational health, and environmental justice."

Undergraduate/ Non-diplômé

Allison McMahon, "Fair Play for Cuba: The British Columbia Left Greets the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1965," undergraduate essay, University of British Columbia, 2011.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2011

Graduate/ Diplômé

Julia Maureen Smith, "Organizing the Unorganized: The Service, Office and Retail Workers' Union of Canada (SORWUC), 1972-1986," M.A. thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2009

“Julia Smith’s Master’s thesis “Organizing the Unorganized:  The Service, Office, and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada (SORWOC), 1972-1986” documents an important moment in Canadian labour history.  Well-versed in scholarly and activist debates about gender and class, Smith explores the successes and challenges of building a union for unorganized workers expressly committed to socialist feminist ideals of community, equality and grassroots democracy.  In doing so, she both reinvigorates debates rooted in experiences of the labour and women’s movements of the 1960s and 1970s and reminds us of the ongoing challenges of imagining a union movement more capable of organizing the unorganized, particularly in service industries.”

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Winners/Les gagnants 2010

Graduate/ Diplômé

Arnaud Bessière, ‘La Domesticité Dans La Colonie Laurentienne Au XVII Siècle Et Au Début Du XVIII Siècle, 1640-1710.’

Université Paris IV – Sorbonne École Doctorale 2: Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine et Université du Québec à Montréal

Arnaud Bessière’s thesis on indentured servants in the early French colony of Canada during the 17th and early 18th centuries is a masterful examination of an understudied workforce, those servants, primarily men, who were recruited in France or in the colony to work primarily for peasant landowners and religious communities. Using an impressive array of sources that span Quebec and French archives, and that range from quantitative measures to court documents and religious records, he explores, with remarkable detail and precision, recruitment and hiring, the nature of the servants’ work, and relations between masters and servants in this time period. He also carefully traces changes in the workforce as more servants were recruited from the colony, entering service at earlier ages. A model of deeply-researched, transnational social history at its best, this thesis makes a significant contribution to the international literature on master servant relations and to our understanding of labour in early Quebec.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Don Cain, "The Wellington Miners' Strike of 1890," University of Victoria essay, 2009

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Winners/Les gagnants 2009

Sean William Mills, "The Empire Within: Montreal, the Sixties, and the Forging of a Radical Imagination," PhD Dissertation, Queen’s University, 2007.

Citation from the Prize Committee: In this dissertation, Sean Mills has made innovative use of decolonization theory to explore a wide range of social and political activism in 1960s Montreal. The application of Third World liberation theory by Montreal-based activists provides the framework to analyze the diverse intellectual strands of Quebec Sixties politics. Advocates for black power, women’s liberation, labour radicals, francophone separatists, and others came together and ‘developed their own individual narratives of liberation.’ Mills insists that tumultuous decade of the 1960s in Quebec, and for the West generally, was ‘profoundly shaped’ by interactions with the Third World. Meticulously researched and written in confident, lively prose, Mills presents a vivid portrait of Montreal’s diverse activists exchanging with their compatriots ‘from Havana to Buenos Aires to Berkeley.’ The dissertation argues cogently that 1960s Quebec was much less a singular movement for ‘Quebec liberation’ than it was a dynamic hybrid of progressive impulses, with all the strengths and weaknesses this entailed. Both as an intriguing historical case study and a potential template for contemporary engagement, Sean Mills’ analysis of Sixties Montreal will interest a wide range of scholars.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2008
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Stephanie Ross, "The Making of CUPE: Structure, Democracy and Class Formation," Ph.D.,York University, 2005

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Siobhan Laskey, "'Employees Under the Law': The Challenge of Industrial Legality in New Brunswick, 1945-1955", undergraduate essay, University of New Brunswick, 2006

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Winners/Les gagnants 2007
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Todd McCallum, "'Still Raining, Market Still Rotten;' Homeless Men and the Early years of the Great Depression in Vancouver," PhD thesis, Queen's University, 2004.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Alexandra Dodger, "The Eyes of Canada on Stratford: Reconsidering the Causes and the Consequences of Stratford's 1933 Furniture Strike," undergraduate essay, University of Toronto, 2005.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2006
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Sean Purdy, "From Place of Hope to Outcast Space: Territorial Regulation and Tenant Resistance in Regent Park Housing Project, 1949-2001," PhD thesis, Queen's University, 2003.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Anne Toews, "The Canadian Communist Party and the Women's Labor Leagues, 1918-1929," undergraduate essay, University College of the Fraser Valley, 2004.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2005
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Esyllt Wynne Jones, "Searching For the Springs of Health: Women and Working Families in Winnipeg's 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic," PhD thesis, University of Manitoba (2002).

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Scott C. McMahon, "For a New Kind of Radicalism: Exploring Quebecois Nationalist Radical Literature as a Microcosmic Representation of the New Left Sensibilities on Nation and Citizenship in Quebec in the 1960s," undergraduate essay, Trent University, 2004.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2004
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Richard Rennie, "'And there's nothing goes wrong': Industry, Labour, and Health and Safety at the Fluorspar Mines, St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, 1933-1978," PhD thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland (2001).

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Brooke Pratt, "A Canadian Life on the Literary Left: The Legacy of Dorothy Livesay," Trent University.
 

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Winners/Les gagnants 2003
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Donica Belisle, "Consuming Producers: Retail Workers and Commodity Culture at Eaton's in Mid-Twentieth-Century Toronto," MA,Queen's University, 2001.

Andrew Parnaby, "On the Hook: Welfare Capitalism on the Vancouver Waterfront, 1919-1939," PhD thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2001

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

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Winners/Les gagnants 2002
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Jennifer Stephen, "Deploying Discourses of Employability and Domesticity: Women's Employment and Training Policies and the Formation of the Canadian Welfare State, 1935-1947," PhD thesis, University of Toronto, 2000.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Judy McKeown, "Generational Decline and Racialisation of Labour in the Domestic Sphere: The Experience of British, Caribbean, and Filipina Domestic Workers," York University, 2000.

Mélanie Morin, "Michel Chartrand: la force de la parole et de l'action," Université de Moncton, 2000

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Winners/Les gagnants 2001
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Marcus Klee, "Between the Scylla and Charybdis of Anarchy and Despotism: The State, Capital, and the Working Class in the Great Depression, Toronto, 1929-1940," PhD thesis, Queen's University, 1998.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Juanita Nolan, "Vancouver Trade and Industrial Unionists in Conflict: Baking Bread and Battling Capitalism in 1903 British Columbia," Simon Fraser University.

Allison Howell, "Retail Unionisation: A Historical Approach to the Suzy Shier Case," Trent University.

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Winners/Les gagnants 2000
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Geoffrey Ewen, "The International Unions and the Workers' Revolt in Quebec, 1914-1925," PhD thesis, York University, 1998.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Brian T. Thorn, "'Inhabitants of the Flowery Kingdom:' The Knights of Labor and the Chinese Question, 1880-1891," Queen's University.

J. Callum Makkai, "Captains' Wives of New England and Nova Scotia, 1850-1914," Dalhousie University

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Winners/Les gagnants 1999
 

Graduate/Diplômé

Peter McInnis, "Harnessing Confrontation: The Growth and Consolidation of Industrial Unionism in Canada, 1943-1950," PhD thesis, Queen's University, June 1996.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Mélanie Oulette, "La Grève de l'Amiante de 1975," Université de Montréal.

Jennifer Rogers, "Modernization of the Fishing Industry and the Fisherfolk: A Search for the Reality of Fishing in Nova Scotian Folk-song," Dalhousie University.
 

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Winners/Les gagnants 1998
 

Graduate/Diplômé

James Wishart, "Producing Nurses: Nursing Training in the Age of Rationalization at Kingston General Hospital, 1924-1939," MA thesis, Queen's University, April 1997

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Chad Avery, "Iron Men Skipping Ship: The Desertion of Sailors on Atlantic Canadian Ships During the Age of Sail," Dalhousie University

Josée Moreau, "La grève de Winnipeg et la grève d'Asbestos: impact sur la société canadienne et québecois," Université de Moncton, Campus d'Edmundston
 

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Winners/Les gagnants 1997
 

Graduate/Diplômé

John S. Lutz, "Work, Wages and Welfare in Aboriginal -- Non-Aboriginal Relations, British Columbia, 1849-1970," PhD Thesis, University of Ottawa, 1994.

Undergraduate/Non-diplômé

Kimberly Berry, "The Last Cowboy: The Community and Culture of Halifax Taxi Driver," Dalhousie University

Patrick J. Connor, "'Neither Courage Nor Perseverance Enough': Attentants at the Asylum for the Insane, Kingston 1877-1905," York University

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