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.
I am working on two projects in no particular order. The first has two features. One involves a paper titled ” Strike or Revolution? H.A. Robson’s Inquiry and the Winnipeg General Strike.” It explores the role of Hugh Robson’s 1919 royal commission inquiry report in shaping the meaning and interpretation by historians of the 1919 crisis. It will appear this fall in a special edition of The Manitoba Law Journal devoted to Hugh Robson.
The second feature grew out of a conference paper for the Winnipeg General Strike Centenary Conference. The conference paper, titled “A Scandal, a Royal Commission, a Tradition,” was concerned with 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. It has grown into a broader account – in a genealogical historical mode – of the historical origins and legal character of Canadian public inquiries dating from the original Inquiries Act of 1846.
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.