Canadian Historical Association

The Canadian Historical Association (CHA; French Société historique du Canada, SHC) is a Canadian organization founded in 1922 for the purposes of promoting historical research and scholarship. It is a bilingual, not-for-profit, charitable organization, the largest of its kind in Canada. According to the Association, it "seeks to encourage the integration of historical knowledge and perspectives in both the scholarly and public spheres, to ensure the accessibility of historical resources, and to defend the rights and freedoms of emerging and professional historians in the pursuit of historical inquiry as well as those of history degree holders who utilize the analytical, research, communication, and writing skills they acquired during their studies to pursue a variety of career paths inside or outside of academia."[1]

Canadian Historical Association
Canadian Historical Association logo.png
TypeHistorical association
Legal statusActive
PurposeFoster the scholarly study and communication of history in Canada
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario, Canada
Region served
Official language
English, French
Penny Bryden


The CHA represents historians in Canada and acts as a public advocate for the field. Within the historical profession, the CHA helps to set ethical standards for research and has published a Statement on Research Ethics.[2] The Association organizes annual meetings for members and publishes the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, The CHA Bulletin and series of booklets featuring concise treatments of particular aspects of Canadian history in an international context.[3] The CHA has also created a microsite, What Can you Do With a History Degree? [1], which profiles individuals with history degrees who work in a variety of fields. Other activities include lobbying government agencies, libraries, and archives on matters related to document preservation and availability.

The current CHA president is Penny Bryden of the University of Victoria.

An affiliated committee of the Canadian Historical Association, the Canadian Committee on Labour History, publishes the journal Labour/Le Travail. It holds an annual conference together with other scholarly groups as part of the Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (the "Learneds").

Other affiliated committees include:

  • Aboriginal History Group [2]
  • Active History Group [3]
  • Canadian Business History Association [4]
  • Canadian Committee for Digital History [5]
  • Canadian Committee on the History of Sexuality [6]
  • Canadian Committee on Labour History [7]
  • Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity and Transnationalism [8]
  • Canadian Committee on Military History
  • Canadian Committee on Women's History [9]
  • Canadian Network for Economic History [10]
  • Canadian Network on Humanitarian History [11]
  • Canadian Oral History Association
  • Committee on the Second World War
  • Canadian Urban History Caucus
  • Environmental History Group
  • Graduate Students' Committee [12]
  • History of Children and Youth Group [13]
  • International Committee of Historical Sciences [14]
  • Media And Communication History Committee [15]
  • Political History Group [16]
  • Public History Group [17]


Early yearsEdit

The Canadian Historical Association was founded in 1922 by Lawrence Burpee. That year, Burpee presented a new constitution for the Historic Landmarks Association, which was adopted, changing the name and objectives of the organization.[4] Burpee's model for the Canadian Historical Association was based on the American Historical Association, which was founded in 1884.

The first Canadian Historical Association Executive and Council included George Wrong, Chester Martin, Arthur Doughty, Pierre-Georges Roy, James Kenny, Lawrence Burpee, William Douw Lighthall, and Frederic William Howay.[4] Marius Barbeau was its founding Secretary. Lighthall nominated Burpee for the presidency of the Canadian Historical Association, and Burpee was president from 1923 to 1925 and continued his involvement as chairman of the management committee until 1934.[5]

Over the course of the 1920s, the Canadian Historical Association saw its annual meeting become a scholarly conference. It also became a social event for historians to reconnect with each other. In 1926, Frank Underhill wrote a letter to Charles Cochrane, the Secretary-Treasurer at the time, encouraging the Canadian Historical Association to model its annual meeting after the American Historical Association. Underhill later suggested that the annual meeting be organized around a particular theme. Cochrane agreed to both suggestions.[6] In 1927, the annual meeting was held at the University of Toronto. The format in 1927 became the basic format of the annual meeting. In 1928, the annual meeting was held in Winnipeg.[6]

In 1929, Rodolphe Lemieux became president, he was succeeded by Robert Borden.[6] In 1931, Frederic William Howay became president and he was succeeded by John Clarence Webster in 1932.[7]

In 1933, the Canadian Historical Association held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Canadian Political Science Association. They met separately, but gathered for a joint session and some social events.[8] Based on the success of their joint meeting, they established a joint membership in 1936 at the cost of four dollars.[8]

In 1937, the CHA was invited by the CBC to prepare a series of radio broadcasts on forgotten Canadians. The Association created a Radio Committee with Toronto's George Glazebrook as chair. Over twelve months the committee paired specific historians with specific topics in a series of twenty-seven broadcasts.[9]

In late 1939, the Royal Society of Canada approached the CHA with an offer to become a subgroup of the Society,[10] but after Donald Creighton and Reginald Trotter met with representatives of the Society it was decided that the Canadian Historical Association would not accept this offer.[11]

Recent yearsEdit

In 2017, in response to public conversations about the legacies of Canadian historical figures and in particular their roles in the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the CHA council proposed changing the name of one of its flagship awards, the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize.[12] The award was an annual prize established in 1977 and given to the book making the most significant contribution to Canadian historical understanding.[13] In 2014, the prize had been awarded to James Daschuk for his book Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, which in part highlighted Macdonald's role in the forced starvation of Plains Indigenous peoples in the late 19th century.[14] Daschuk noted that winning the award for this book was "ironic" and was vocally in favour of rebranding the prize.[12] In May 2018 at its annual meeting in Regina, CHA members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the name change, by a margin of 121-11.[15] The prize was renamed the CHA Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize.[16]


As part of its mandate to promote and recognize excellence in historical research, the CHA administers the following prizes:

  • François-Xavier Garneau Medal, awarded every five years honours an outstanding Canadian contribution to historical research[17]
  • CHA Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize, an annual prize for non-fiction work of Canadian history judged to have made the most significant contribution to an understanding of the Canadian past[18]
  • The Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, an annual prize for an outstanding scholarly book in a field of history other than Canadian history
  • The Clio Prizes, given for meritorious publications or for exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations to regional history
  • The Albert B. Corey Prize, an award once every two years jointly with the American Historical Association, for best book dealing with the history of Canadian-American relations or the history of both countries
  • The John Bullen Prize, awarded for the outstanding historical dissertation written for a doctoral degree at a Canadian university
  • The CHA Journal Prize, awarded every year for the best essay published each year in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association
  • CCWH Book Prize in Women's and Gender History, awarded every two years to the best book published in the field in the previous two years, in either English or French
  • The Hilda Neatby Prize, awarded annually for the best articles in French and English on women's history
  • Other prizes include: The Canadian Aboriginal History Book Prize, Political History Prize - Best Book, Political History Prize - Best Article, Public History Prize, The Eugene Forsey Prize, The Neil Sutherland Article Prize and Best article on the History of Sexuality.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "What is the CHA?". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  2. ^ "Statement on Research Ethics". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  3. ^ "What we do". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  4. ^ a b Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 5. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  5. ^ Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 6,7. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 8. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  7. ^ Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 9. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 14. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  9. ^ Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 12. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  10. ^ Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 13. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  11. ^ Wright, Donald (2003). "The Canadian Historical Association: A History". The Canadian Historical Association. Historical Booklet No. 62: 13,14. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  12. ^ a b Dec 21, The Canadian Press Published on; 2017 5:06pm (2017-12-21). "Canadian Historical Association council seeks to pull Sir. John A.'s name off award". iPolitics. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  13. ^ "CHA Prizes". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  14. ^ "When Canada used hunger to clear the West". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  15. ^ "Historical association rebrands award named for John A. Macdonald". National Post. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  16. ^ "'A key player in Indigenous cultural genocide:' Historians erase Sir John A. Macdonald's name from book prize". National Post. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  17. ^ "CHA website: The François-Xavier Garneau Medal". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  18. ^ ""About the Awards"". Canada's History Society. Retrieved 18 October 2017.

External linksEdit