Our Director, Faculty, Scholars, & Distinguished Affiliates

Meet the Director

Dr. Leith Davis, Professor, English

Dr. Leith Davis is the author of Acts of Union: Scotland and the Negotiation of the British Nation (Stanford UP, 1998) and Music, Postcolonialism and Gender: The Construction of Irish Identity, 1724–1874 (Notre Dame UP, 2005) and numerous articles on 18th- and 19th-century British culture as well as co-editor of Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004) and Robert Burns and Transatlantic Culture (Ashgate, 2012). She is currently working on a monograph entitled Media and Cultural Memory in Britain and Ireland, 1688–1745 which explores the articulation of what Pierre Nora calls "spectacular" sites of cultural memory within the context of a shifting media ecology of the 18th century. In addition, with Janet Sorensen, she is co-editing the International Companion to Scottish Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century. She is a co-founder of the Department of English's MA with Specialization in Print Culture and served previously as Director of Simon Fraser University's Scottish Studies Centre from 2008–2015.

Steering Committee Members

Dr. John Craig, Professor, History

Dr. John Craig is a professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University and former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He received his BA Hons and MA degrees from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and his PhD from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom where he worked with Professor Robert Goheen. He held a research fellowship at Robinson College, Cambridge from 1992–94 before coming to Simon Fraser University in September 1994. Promoted to associate professor in 1999 and professor in 2005, Dr. Craig served as Chair of the Department of History from 20052008. You can contact Dr. Craig at johnc@sfu.ca

Dr. Willeen Keough, Professor, History

Dr. Willeen Keough is a Simon Fraser University professor in both the Department of History and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (GSWS). She is a former Chair of GSWS. Dr. Keough received her PhD from Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, and joined SFU in 2005. Her doctoral dissertation received the American Historical Association's Gutenberg-e Prize in 2003 and was published in 2006 by Columbia University Press as The Slender Thread: Irish Women on the Southern Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, 1750-1860. She has also authored numerous articles and co-written Gender History: Canadian Perspectives with Dr. Lara Campbell. You can contact Dr. Keough at wkeough@sfu.ca

Dr. Eleanor (Ellie) Stebner, Associate Professor, Humanities

Dr. Eleanor (Ellie) Stebner is an associate professor in the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University and J.S. Woodsworth Chair. She teaches courses on religion, culture, ideas, and peace and previously taught at the Chicago Theological Seminary and the University of Winnipeg before coming to SFU in 2005. Her publications focus on women and religion, Jane Addams, and movements for social change. She is part of a research team (SSHRC Insight Grant 2012) studying neighbourhood houses in Vancouver, and continues to study John Amos Comenius, select Nobel Peace prize laureates, and ecclesiastical apologies. You can contact Dr. Stebner at estebner@sfu.ca

Dr. Fred Popowich, Professor, Computing Science

Dr. Fred Popowich is a professor in the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University. He received his PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1989, and since then has been a faculty member in the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Popowich was recently the Associate Director Research and Industrial Relations, and Director of the SFU Professional Masters in Big Data.  At SFU, he is also an associate member of the Department of Linguistics, and an associate member (and past director) of the Cognitive Science Program. He is currently the executive director of KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Computer Research Institute of Montreal, and the SFU representative for Canada’s Big Data Consortium. You can contact Dr. Popowich at popowich@sfu.ca

Scholars & Instructors

Dr. Niall MacKenzie’s PhD, supervised at Cambridge by the late Howard Erskine-Hill, offered the first critical examination of the monastic death bill as a literary genre. There and elsewhere, his work has often sought to untangle the secrets of the Jacobite cause, and his concept of “double-edged writing” has had some influence in the field. His publications have appeared in a number of journals and edited collections, including: The Review of English Studies, The Byron Journal, Studia Neophilologica, Scottish Language, Scottish Gaelic Studies, Scottish Studies Review, and Éigse: A Journal of Irish Studies. He has also collaborated with the visual artists, Anna Gaskell and Sally Mann.

A grandson of the tradition bearer, Kate MacKenzie (Caitrìona Uilleim Iain mhic Artair, 1876-1979), Niall taught in 2011 a version of ENGL 357 that focused on literary and pop-cultural images of Cape Breton Island. The book thereby inspired is nearing its completion.

Dr. Antone Minard is an instructor in the Humanities and World Literature department and the Department of English at SFU. He received his PhD in Folklore and Mythology at UCLA with a focus on Celtic languages and literatures. Dr. Minard is the editor of The Celts: History, Life, and Culture, a two-volume encyclopedia published by ABC-Clio in 2012. Many of his courses on mythology and folk religion involve Scottish content (Celtic Mythology, Great Religious Texts, Religion in Context) and he has also taught courses on medieval Scottish history for the Continuing Studies Program.

Distinguished Affiliates

Mike Chisholm is the executive director of the United Scottish Cultural Society in Vancouver, B.C. The Society is an amalgamation of Scottish societies in Vancouver. It was formed in the 1950’s and today continues to perpetuate Scottish culture in all its forms, including language, music, dance, and education.

The most prominent activity is ScotFestBC: The British Columbia Highland Games, which celebrated its 88th year in 2019. As executive director, Mike is responsible for overall coordination of the Games, including a 40-person organizing committee and a volunteer corps of close to 200. Born in Antigonish, the heart of an early Highland settlement in Nova Scotia in the 19th century, Mike’s Highland roots run deep as the fourth generation of his Chisholm family in Nova Scotia.

Mike is the official piper to Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours in Vancouver, is a director with the BC Pipers’ Association, and is a retired member of a number of BC pipe bands. He also works in the B.C. film industry and is a former news reporter with the CBC, CTV, Global BC, and the Vancouver Observer.  

(William) Rex Davidson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia to a Scottish father and an English mother. He was educated in Canada, Scotland, and England.  Davidson had an eclectic working life. He was:

  • a history and archeology writer for a prominent English newspaper
  • a researcher for a Scottish journalist in Vancouver
  • a public affairs director for a major Canadian energy company
  • an owner and operator of two restaurants and an inn in B.C.’s lower mainland
  • a farmer with 4000 hogs in Ireland

Davidson has now retired to his home, gardens, dogs, and wood/metal-working shop on the Sunshine Coast, and to his second home in Tomatin, Scotland. He is a director and secretary of the St. Andrews Society of the City of Vancouver and a 40-year elected member of the Council of the Clan Chattan Association in Scotland, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland.

Hon. John Allen Fraser, PC, OC, OBC, CD, QC, is the former Member of Parliament for Vancouver South (1972–1993) and former Speaker of the House of Commons (1986–1993). During his 21 years in Parliament, Mr Fraser served in key government positions, including Minister of the Environment (1979–80) and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (1984–85), prior to his election as Speaker (1986 and 1988). He was the first person in Canadian history to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons by his parliamentary peers, a practice first instituted in 1986. He is Honorary Chair of the Fundraising Council of the Centre for Scottish Studies.

Dr. Kevin James is Scottish Studies Foundation Chair & Professor of History at the University of Guelph. Kevin studied for his PhD at the University of Edinburgh, working with Professor R. J. Morris in the Department of Economic and Social History.

He is the author of Histories, Meanings and Representations of the Modern Hotel. Bristol: Channel View Publications, 2018; Tourism, Land and Landscape in Ireland: The Commodification of Culture. New York & London: Routledge, 2014; and Handloom Weavers in Ulster’s Linen Industry, 1815-1914. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007.

His teaching and research focuses on Ireland and Britain during the long 19th century, and also encompasses trans-national themes, such as travel, tourism, and the history of the modern hospitality sector. He focuses on the experiences of Scotland and Ireland, and interactions and comparisons between them.

His current research, drawing on old hotel books, explores the social and cultural history of the inn and hotel in Victorian Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, and the Isle of Man. It extends his previous research programme, which examined "tourist development" projects in 19th-century Ireland and the intersections of gendered, racial, and class identities in Irish travel writing. He has longstanding interests in comparative modern Scottish and Irish social history and connections between them through tourism.

Ronald Sutherland is an associate member of the Centre and was one of the community founders of the Centre for Scottish Studies. He spent his working career in the international shipping industry and retired as President of the Empire Shipping Company. He has been active for many years with the Scots community in British Columbia and, especially, with the BC Pipers Association.