Since 2012, I have been University Archivist (Emeritus) at Brandon University. In practical terms, I am now an independent researcher, writer, documentary producer with many interests – traditional historical and archival practice included – that tend to converge on public history.
The digital revolution has furnished a new terrain for public history and given a new urgency to the need to come to terms with its epistemological nature and practice. I spend lots of time thinking about that, though the ontological nature of self and narrative – postmodern matters – is demanding more attention lately.
These days, I am working on two projects. The first grew out of a conference paper for the Winnipeg General Strike Centenary Conference titled “A Scandal, a Royal Commission, a Tradition.” It concerned the historical provenance of a legal strategy – a royal commission – that the Citizens’ Committee of Thousand lawyers sought unsuccessfully to deploy in their struggle against labour radicalism in 1919. The work on that subject has grown into a broader interest in historical origins and legal character of Canadian public inquiries.
The second project involves journals composed independently by Hudson’s Bay Company men Donald McKay, John Sutherland, and Nor’ Wester John McDonnell, while traveling up the Assiniboine River in 1793. I hope to use these journals to explore narrative constructions of landscape, society, and identity on the eastern prairies c. 1793.
A section of Donald McKay’s map of the Eastern Prairies c. 1791, Hudson’s Bay Archives, Winnipeg