Steady scholarship, dry wit and an appetite for public debate are the qualities that have made Professor Desmond Morton this year’s winner of the Pierre Berton Award, Canada’s History Society announced today. Desmond Morton’s incisive analysis and quiet chuckle have raised interest in and knowledge of Canadian history from coast-to-coast.
The author of over 40 books on military, political, and labour history in Canada including two enduring popular works: A Short History of Canada and A Military History of Canada, Desmond Morton has also been an active and generous mentor, contributor, and advocate within the historical community. He continues to be a sought-after media commentator providing historical context for contemporary events and public policy debates.
The Award selection committee noted that the Pierre Berton Award particularly recognizes Desmond Morton’s tireless advocacy of accessible Canadian history. He once facetiously suggested that Canadian history be banned from schools as ‘unfit for young minds. Then, of course, those “young minds” would grab a flashlight and read it avidly under the covers.’
“We are delighted to honour Desmond Morton,” said Deborah Morrison, president and C.E.O. of Canada’s History Society. “He cares deeply about how history is taught in our classrooms and how it is remembered in our communities. His career reflects his strong commitment to helping bridge between academic research and popular understanding of our past.”
In accepting the honour Desmond Morton commented, “This is a gratifying award to receive, since Pierre Berton was the master of history performances as well as popular writing. I am humbled to be put in the same category.”
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When a Catholic couple was charged with killing a Protestant neighbour in Canada West, it became a lightning rod for partisan passions.