First Historica Chair in Canadian History named at York

York Professor Marcel Martel (left) is the Unversity’s first Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History, and comes to the position with impressive credentials and a background in post-1945 Canadian political and public policy.

The Faculty of Arts sent YFile this profile of Martel.

As a young historian with a distinguished reputation in scholarship, teaching and professional activities, Marcel Martel is a truly deserving inaugural incumbent to the newly established Avie Bennett Historica Chair in Canadian History.

An associate professor of history at York, Martel has focused his research on post-1945 Canadian political and public policy. Supported by a three-year grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, he is currently examining public policy surrounding the use of recreational drugs in Canada in the 1960s.

In 1997, a revised version of Martel’s dissertation, Le Deuil d’un pays imagine, was published by the University of Ottawa Press. It received the Michel-Brunet Award from the Institut d’histoire de l’Amérique francaise, for the best history book published by a young historian that year.

The book was an analysis of the relations between Francophone Quebec and French-speaking minorities outside of the province, encompassing cultural, political and constitutional questions, and explaining the decline of the concept of  “French Canada” after 1960.

Martel’s book was recognized for having made an important contribution to understanding the evolution of Quebec nationalism, as distinct from French Canadian nationalism. It is regarded as a breakthrough in the analysis and understanding of contemporary Canada.

Martel was invited by the Canadian Historical Association to produce a booklet on the formation and disappearance of notions of the French Canadian identity and the associated nationalist vision. He continues to explore various facets of this large topic in numerous other articles and booklets.

Martel, who received his MA from York in 1988 and PhD in 1994, is one of the most popular lecturers in York’s Faculty of Arts History Department and is an active participant in important departmental and university-wide committees. Beyond the University, his service work includes the role of French book review editor for the journal Histoire sociale/Social History, a five-year term that began in 1999.

From 1999 to 2001, Martel served as a member of the short-listing panel for the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. This award is given to the best high school history teacher each year. In June 2000, he was elected as a member of the Canadian Historical Association Council for a three-year term and, in June 2002, to the Ontario Historical Society Board, also for a three-year term. As well, he has organized international conferences on such topics as “L’Université et la francophonie”  and the “Etats généraux du Canada francais, trente ans plus tarde”.

Martel is truly a rising figure in the historical profession with the stature within and beyond academe to raise the profile and illustrate the importance of the study of Canadian history across the nation.

Avie Bennett, after whom the Historica Chair in Canadian History is named, was first appointed chancellor of York University in May 1998, and was subsequently re-appointed to a second three-year term beginning May 2001. As chancellor, he is an ex officio member of all York University Board committees and sits on the University Senate.