I was born and raised in Edmonton, a city traditionally regarded as the “gateway to the North.” I first became interested in northern history while pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, where I undertook research funded in part through the Canadian Circumpolar Institute. I then (somewhat counterintuitively) decided to continue my study of northern Canada in England, at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. After completing my PhD in 2010, I held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of British Columbia and Rutgers and a tenure-track appointment at the University of Maine. I joined SFU’s History department in 2014.
I am a cultural and environmental historian who draws inspiration from the cognate fields of historical geography and the history of science and technology. My research examines the relationship between colonialism, modernity, and the production of knowledge about Canada, with a special focus on the North. I am finishing a book-length cultural history of northern Canadian exploration between 1920 and 1965. Related research interests include the history of northern field science, travel, and tourism; American military attempts to understand northern environments in the 1940s and 1950s; and fur trapping by sojourners in northwestern Canada during the twentieth century. I have co-edited a volume on science and technology in Canadian history and have done a substantial amount of digital historical work as an editor and executive member of the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). Some day soon I hope to begin a new project on the environmental history of the wine industry in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History
Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2019
Articles and Book Chapters
- "Scientist Tourist Sportsman Spy: Boundary-Work and the Putnam Eastern Arctic Expeditions.” In Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History, ed. Edward Jones-Imhotep and Tina Adcock. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018. 60-83.
- “Introduction: Science, Technology, and the Modern in Canada.” In Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History, ed. Edward Jones-Imhotep and Tina Adcock. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018. 3-36. Co-authored with Edward Jones-Imhotep.
- “Many Tiny Traces: Antimodernism and Northern Exploration Between the Wars.” In Ice Blink: Navigating Northern Environmental History, ed. Stephen Bocking and Brad Martin. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2017. 131-77.
- “Canadian History Blogging: Reflections at the Intersection of Digital Storytelling, Academic Research, and Public Outreach.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27, no. 2 (2016): 1-39. Co-authored with Keith Grant, Stacy Nation-Knapper, Beth Robertson, and Corey Slumkoski.
- "The Maximum of Mishap: Adventurous Tourists and the State in the Northwest Territories, 1926-1948.” Histoire sociale/Social History 44, no. 99 (2016): 431-52.
- “Toward an Early Twentieth-Century Culture of Northern Canadian Exploration.” In North by Degree: New Perspectives on Arctic Exploration, ed. Susan A. Kaplan and Robert McCracken Peck. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2013. 109-41.
- “Auktoritet och expertis: Forskning, lokal kunskap och politik i Kanadas nordområden.” [“Expert authority in the early twentieth-century Canadian Arctic.” Polarår: Ymer 2009. 105-27. Published as Christina Sawchuk.
- “An Arctic Republic of Letters in Early Twentieth-Century Canada.” Nordlit 23 (2008): 273-92. Published as Christina Sawchuk.
Areas of Graduate Supervision
Northern and circumpolar history; modern Canadian history; Canadian environmental history
Current Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:
- Tim Paulson
- Hailey Venn
Awards, Grants and Honours
- Associate, L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History, McMaster University, 2017-20
- Cormack Teaching Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, SFU, 2018
- President’s Research Start-up Grant, Office of the Vice-President, Academic, SFU, 2014
- Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis postdoctoral fellowship, 2012-13
- SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship, 2011-12
- SSHRC doctoral fellowship, 2008-09
- University of Cambridge Overseas Student Researchship, 2006
- Cambridge Commonwealth Trusts Canada Graduate Scholarship, 2006
- Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction, 2006
- Mackenzie King Travelling Scholarship, 2006
- Governor General’s Silver Medal, 2005