My research and teaching interests focus primarily on modern Canadian cultural history and the comparative history of national identity, tourism, consumerism and sport. My original interest in history was fairly straightforward: I was keen to learn about why things are the way that they are. And I still am. My survey course (HIST 2913: The Historical Roots of Contemporary Canada) grapples with a number of pretty important questions: such as … Why is it that this country periodically endures national unity crises? How has colonialism shaped Canada’s development? Why are some regions more economically successful than others and what sort of protest movements have emerged to express regional discontent? How have battles over gender equality reshaped Canada’s political and social landscape? How has anti-Black racism structured Canadian society? How, when, and why did Canada become an independent country? Why and how did Canada develop a welfare state? History is a necessary tool for the engaged citizen because it can provide context, help you empathize (though not necessarily agree) with other people, and demonstrate that what seems completely natural and universal is, in fact, the product of contingencies, struggles, innovative ideas, and resistance.


During my undergraduate degree I also became interested in the “politics” of history – the way in which people have attempted to “use” history in public venues for personal or political gain. For example, I was fascinated by the way in which Louis Riel was claimed as a champion of the Métis, and as a defender of French-Canadian culture, and as the father of “Western Alienation,” and as Canada’s first truly bicultural (and thus unifying) hero. The only way all of these things could be true, it seemed, was if one delved rather selectively into the past and “massaged” or “edited” the historical record. My first book, The Mountie from Dime Novel to Disney, explored the ways in which the image of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been used throughout history. The book highlighted the manner in which English-Canadian identity has changed over time. When I teach HIST 2003: Exploring History I make sure that we spend a fair amount of time considering how historical narratives are constructed and whose interests they serve so that students can appreciate the extent to which our everyday lives are permeated by historical arguments that need to be interrogated and challenged.


While writing the book on the Mounties I became increasingly interested in the power of consumer culture. Corporations and entrepreneurs, after all, have had a significant influence on how the Canadian Mountie has been portrayed (in tourism advertisements, in movies, on wallpaper, as Christmas ornaments, etc.). In Selling British Columbia: Tourism and Consumer Culture, 1890-1970, I continued to examine how history was constructed and used (this time as quaint and comfortable images of “British” and “Indigenous” culture for sale to tourists) but the question I was really interested in answering was this: When and how did a consumer society emerge in Canada? HIST 3863: Modern Tourism in World History grew out of that research project but it has a more global and cultural dimension. It examines the development of tourism in a wide variety of places (Las Vegas, Tahiti, China, the Soviet Union, Sub-Saharan Africa, Disneyland, etc.) and explores how it has affected local communities, national identities, and the environment.


My current research and teaching priorities focus on the comparative study of popular culture. One strand of this work examines the intersection of sport and national identity in twentieth-century Canada, Australia and New Zealand. HIST 3763: Modern Sport in World History examines the globalization of sport from c.1850 to the present and explores the manner in which sports were embraced, transformed, resisted or appropriated by communities throughout the world. I also teach History 4826: Popular Culture and Postcolonial Legacies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand which allows students to explore the cultural significance of, among other things, Crocodile Dundee, Edmund Hillary’s “conquest” of Mt. Everest, Vegemite, Canada Day celebrations, and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Another strand of my work focuses on the complex relationship between history and entertainment – a key theme that I will be exploring with students in HIST: 3993 Topics in Global History (Disney and World History) in Winter 2022.