Kudos for U of G History Professor's Book

October 20, 2009 - News Release

A study of complex economic and social relationships in 19th-century rural Ontario has earned three prestigious awards for a University of Guelph historian.

Prof. Catharine Wilson will receive the Floyd S. Chalmers Award in Ontario History from the Champlain Society for her book Tenants in Time: Family Strategies, Land, and Liberalism in Upper Canada, 1799-1871. The society will present the award Oct. 24 during its 103rd annual general meeting at the City of Toronto Archives theatre.

Earlier this year, Tenants in Time also received the Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Award and the Ontario Historical Society's J.J. Talman Award.

“This is a wonderful honour,” said Wilson. “I'm delighted at the response the book is getting as it challenges our understanding of early settlement in what we now call Ontario.”

In Tenants in Time, Wilson mines data from the 1842 census of Cramahe Township, Northumberland County, near Colborne, and examines some of our basic assumptions about life in Upper Canada. In particular, she argues that because the notion of tenant farming did not fit with entrenched liberal values about land and ownership, the reality of land tenancy’s essential function in Upper Canadian society was often ignored by contemporaries and later by historians writing about the period.

Using the census results as her foundation, Wilson weaves a mix of factual information, legal records and statistics from a variety of sources to explore the complexities of landowner-tenant relationships and provide a more complete picture of how families adapted and thrived in their new homeland.

The Chalmers Award prize committee calls Tenants in Time a groundbreaking work that has “pushed the boundaries outward into the previously unexplored subject of tenant farming… The result transforms historical thought about rural settlement in 19th-century Ontario.”

For more information:
Prof. Catharine Wilson
Department of History
519-824-4120, Ext. 53204

For media calls, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or lhunt@uguelph.ca, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

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