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Avie Bennett Historica Lecture

Since 2004, The Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History has served to promote the study of Canada’s heritage as a vital and lively academic discipline. The Chair was established by the Historica Foundation of Canada, endowed by York Chancellor Emeritus Avie Bennett. Each year, an esteemed lecturer is invited to share their research with historians, students, faculty, and the public at large.

2023 Avie Bennett Historica Lecture

A difficult history of the Hudson’s Bay Company

Adele Perry headshot

How should historians understand the fur-trade, and powerful corporate entities associated with it, as a chapter in a global history of colonialism and dispossession?  This talk will aim to trouble the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company by centering it in difficult histories of violence, conflict, and the theft of knowledge, land, and lives in North America, ones with implications for the lived present of colonialism in Western Canada.

Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023. (In-person only)

Dinner: 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. (For all attendees) 
Lecture: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Schulich – Private Dinning Room 

Speaker: Adele Perry

Adele Perry (FRSC) is a settler historian at the University of Manitoba, where she is currently Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies, and Director of the Centre for Human Rights Research. Perry is a graduate of York’s PhD program in History and a past president of the Canadian Historical Association.

Past Events

Writing Difficult Histories in Difficult Times

January 18, 2023

This talk was about the challenges of writing difficult histories in difficult times. It asked how members of the historical community should respond to the demands for social justice and inclusion being placed on a profession. Focused primarily on the Canadian context, this talk also considered for whom these histories are difficult and the academic, institutional and bureaucratic challenges that they present for the university. 

Watch the Video

Chief Clarence Louie on Indigenous Peoples and the wine industry in B.C.

September 23, 2021

For the Avie Bennett Historica Canada Public Lecture in Canadian History, Settler Vines was honoured to welcome Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The Osoyoos community created the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America. Chief Louie discussed Indigenous Peoples and the wine industry in British Columbia in the context of globalization and climate change.

Watch the Video

Carried Away: Forgetting and Remembering the Great Influenza Pandemic in Canada

March 26, 2021

In this timely lecture, Professor Esyllt Jones, author of the award-winning book Influenza 1918: Death, Disease and Struggle and professor at the University of Manitoba, explores the Great Influenza (1918-1920) in light of renewed interest following the COVID-19 pandemic. By following work by writer Alice Munro, Jones to suggests a new interpretation of how pandemic disease survivors remembered their experiences, and how those intimate histories interacted with large-scale social forces and upheavals.

Watch the Video

Traces of the Animal Past: Methodological Challenges in Animal History

November 7, 2019

University of Calgary's Professor George Colpitts has dedicated much of his research to understanding the very meaning of wildlife and how that definition has changed over time. His 2019 keynote address explored the ways in which historians have been at the forefront of new research in human-animal studies, blending traditional archival and oral history research methods with interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks that de-centre humans in historical narratives in order to better understand the past from non-anthropocentric perspectives.

Prairie Settler Suffragists and Indigenous People

September 27, 2018

Award-winning author and Native Studies Professor Sarah Carter, from the University of Alberta, delivered a lecture titled “Prairie Settler Suffragists and Indigenous People,” drawn from her book, Ours By Every Law of Right and Justice: Women and the Vote in the Prairie Provinces. The book is part of the Women’s Suffrage and the Struggle for Democracy series by the University of British Columbia Press.

Read more about the 2018 event.

Indigeneity, the World, and Canada

March 30, 2017

In 2017, keynote speaker Justice Murray Sinclair, Senator and former Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission spoke on Indigeneity, the World, and Canada. In his talk, he examined what Canada could learn from other nations and their relationships to Indigenous peoples.

Read more about Sinclair's address.

Canada at 150: The Secret Handshake

October 12, 2017

Well-known across Canada as an author and public speaker, Charlotte Gray explores the past with wit and a sense of drama. Reflecting on 150 ideas that shaped Canada, she pulls from her latest book, The Promise of Canada: 150 Years — People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. Her previous non-fiction bestsellers include The Massey Murder; Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike; Reluctant Genius, The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell, Sisters in the Wilderness, and The Lives of Susanna Moodie.

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John A. Macdonald: The Good, the Bad, the Great

Award-winning author and journalist Richard J. Gwyn examined the legacy of Canada’s first prime minister during his keynote presentation at the 2015 Avie Bennett Historica Lecture.

Read about the event on YFile.

Canada and the Great War

September 18, 2014

Highlighting the day-long "First World War: History, Memory and Commemoration" conference held at York University in 2014, Margaret MacMillan delivered a keynote address at the Avie Bennett Historica Lecture delving into the literary, aesthetic, critical, political and historical perspectives of Canada’s participation in the war.

Read more on the 2014 lecture in YFile.

Champlain, Humanist: The Founding of New France and the History of Canada

October 24, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Hackett Fischer gave the keynote address at the 2013 Avie Bennett Historica Lecture, using his talk to explore the legacy of founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, the subject of his 2008 book Champlain's Dream.

Read more about Fisher's talk in YFile.

Watch the Video