UBC professor wins top writing award for book about French Canadians in BC

Book French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous WomenUniversity of British Columbia professor Jean Barman was named the winner of the 2015 Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research for her book, French Canadians, Furs and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest, published by UBC Press.

The award is Canada’s top prize for academic history writing.

In her book, Professor Barman rewrites the history of the Pacific Northwest from the perspective of French Canadians involved in the fur economy, the indigenous women whose presence in their lives encouraged them to stay, and their descendants.

While researching the book, she learned that French Canadians “played a significant role in the history of the Pacific Northwest and were responsible for ensuring today’s British Columbia didn’t end up as part of the United States.”

According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, “Barman said although the Hudson Bay Company was a London-based company its workforce was primarily French Canadians since the company found it difficult to get others to work ‘hard jobs in the middle of nowhere.’ She said the French Canadians were usually young men, between the ages of 18 and 20, who were often the children of farmers living along the St. Lawrence. They came west looking for jobs and most got three year contracts, but stayed on after marrying indigenous women.”

Thanks to Vicky Lapointe for sharing the story on Facebook.

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