History on The Edge

Ethnohistory Field School students
Ethnohistory Field School students

In many ways UVic History Department is at the cutting edge of our discipline while being firmly grounded in our local and regional communities.   We are proud of our leadership in community engagement, including our focus on Indigenous communities, our dynamic experiential learning, our field schools, our success in public and digital history, and many other areas of historical scholarship.   We draw on the vital energy of our communities and give back through public presentations, film, websites, exhibits, publications and much more.  These are few of the ways we are having an impact on the edge while still staying close to the centre of our city and region…

Talks of the Town

Café Historique

What is a Café Historique? A group of interesting people in a convivial café setting, who gather to hear a stimulating talk and discuss new ideas about how the past has shaped our present and future, as well as to drink, eat, converse, meet friends, and have an evening to remember.  A monthly series at Hermann’s Jazz Club in Victoria. 

Cafe Historique

World Affairs in Historical Perspective

As crises hit, dynasties crumble, elections shake the globe we gather experts from across campus to put these affairs in historical perspective.

Global South Series

Five free lectures which focus on the intersected histories of religion, secularism, and the modern state in the Global South.

City Talks

A free public lecture series featuring distinguished urbanists drawn from across north America. 

Field Schools and Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning

In addition to our field schools, in our Public History Courses, Digital History Courses, Veteran’s Oral History Course and “Migraton, Race and Empire” all have students working with community organizations doing applied research projects which are excellent intellectual and work experience. 

Colonial Legacies Field School in South Africa

Dr. Elizabeth Vibert leads this three-week undergraduate/graduate field school to Cape Town and Limpopo Province to explore the impacts of colonial histories on everyday life and on rural and urban landscapes. The three-week field school is the centrepiece of a three-unit, experiential-learning course: History 470 A01 and A02.  The next offering is scheduled for spring 2018.  For more information contact evibert@uvic.ca

South Africa Field School

Ethnohistory Field School with the Sto:lo

This is month long graduate level field course held in the Sto:lo communities of the Fraser Valley every second year.  Working with Sto:lo elders and staff and alongside students from the University of Saskatchewan students work with Dr. John Lutz and Dr. Keith Carlson on historical projects identified by the Sto:lo.   Learn more and see student projects at www.ethnohist.ca.  This field school won the Hackenberg Memorial Prize from the Society for Applied Anthropology in 2016.

Community Engaged Scholarship

Beyond the field schools which work closely with local community organizations our department is the home of several major grant-funded community-engaged projects:

Landscapes of Injustice

One of the largest projects in the humanities and social sciences in Canada today, Landscapes of Injustice is a collaboration of universities, museums, archives, primary and secondary schools, and community organizations to research and tell the history of the dispossession of the property of Japanese Canadians during the 1940s. Most Canadians know that British Columbians of Japanese origin were interned in the 1940s. Fewer know that all of their homes, businesses, farms, and personal belongings were sold without their consent. Former property owners and their descendants still feel the shock of the forced sales, the destruction of their neighbourhoods, and the betrayal of the promise that the Canadian government would “protect and preserve” their land and possessions. Canadians are heirs of landscapes of injustice. Led by Jordan Stanger Ross and based in the UVic History Department, the project will produce academic publications, teacher resources, interactive digital media, and a travelling museum exhibit. This is a story about the violation of human and civil rights at a time of perceived insecurity, about measures taken in the name of national defense that made no one safer, about the enduring harms of mass displacement, and about the resilience people confronting injustice. Learn more about our project, including employment opportunities for students, at www.landscapesofinjustice.com

Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project

This project created a website which for the first time brings together and makes accessible in a single, searchable database over 6000 Chinese Canadian artifacts held by the sixteen local and regional museums throughout British Columbia. It mainly reflects the everyday lives of early Chinese Canadians – their resilience in the face of over a century of racist exclusions, their work and family life from decades past, and their ongoing community contributions.  Led by Zhongping Chen and John Price of the History Department, together with Tusa Shea in the Division of Continuing Studies of UVic, this project is one of the Legacy Initiatives that the British Columbia government took as a part of its official apology for its racist policies toward immigrants from China from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, especially for its role in the imposition of the Chinese head tax. The project received support from the B.C. Museums Association, and it also benefitted from the technical expertise provided by UVic’s Humanities Computing and Media Centre. 

Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island

In 1786, a young Mowachaht chief from Yuquot (Nootka) travelled to China and stayed for a year learning Chinese. Shortly afterwards, nearly a hundred Chinese visited Yuquot as part of the early fur trade. The research project Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island: Race, Indigeneity and the Transpacific, led by John Price, aims to recover and retell the stories of Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island with specific focus on ties with First Nations. Partnering with local museums, the project will look at historical relationships among Asian Canadian communities on Vancouver Island and adjacent islands, their relations with First Nations, and also draw attention to allies who, in standing up for the rights of the marginalized, were harbingers of Canada’s multicultural future. The project’s goals include the establishment of a select digital archive on Asian Canadian/Indigenous history; the writing of two books based on this collection; the construction of a digital history website housing the stories and related inventories from local archives and museums; a learning resource for history instructors; and the mounting of Asian Canadian exhibits in local museums.


Community Mapping Collaboratory

The Department’s faculty and students have worked with the UVic library to create a digital historic map portal with over 900 historic maps of the region and worked with many local community groups and NGOs like the United Way to assist in the creation of community maps like the Fernwood, Highlands and Oak Bay maps and the Capital Region online Green Map.

Indigenous Community Engaged Scholarship

Humanities Indigenous Scholar

The Humanities Faculty, with the support of the SSHRC-funded research project “Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island” led by John Price, and the History Department, has initiated the first annual Humanities Visiting Indigenous Scholar Award and the inaugural recipient is Dr. Nick Claxton, XEMŦOLTW̱, of the Tsawout Band & WSÁNEĆ Nation.  Dr. Claxton is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Faculty of Education and for the 2016-17 year he will also be advising, lecturing and offering training to faculty and students in the Faculty of Humanities.  His dissertation and ongoing research involves using the teachings, materials, technology and practice of the historical Reef Net Fishing as a tool for cultural strengthening.

Ethnohistory Field School with the Sto:lo

See the entry under field schools.

Ethnohistory field school

Local Engagement

The History Department works with our region’s Songhees, Esquimalt and Saanich First Nations on a variety of initiatives.  We will be co-hosting a conference with the Songhees on Indigenous Land and Colonial Indian Policy in February 2017;  the Department has sponsored several “Colonial Reality Tours” led by Songhees knowledge holder Cheryl Bryce to introduce members of the UVic community to the local indigenous territory and we have students engaged in research projects with and at the invitation of these communities.  

Community Mapping

Working with the UVic Community Mapping Collaboratory John Lutz and department students have worked with the Saanich, Sto:lo  and Hartley Bay Gitga’at communities to create cultural and digital story-telling maps of their territories. 

Film and Exhibits

Thinking Garden

Elizabeth Vibert is about to launch a documentary film about women and small-scale agriculture in Africa. Co-written and co-produced with filmmaker Christine Welsh, The Thinking Garden focuses on the cooperative farm in Limpopo Province, South Africa, where Elizabeth does her research. The film tells a story of resilience – three generations of older women in a village in South Africa who came together in the dying days of apartheid to create a community garden. More than two decades later the garden is still going strong, helping to confront the challenges of climate change, poverty, and HIV/AIDS, and creating hope and a measure of food security in the community. Screenings begin in fall 2016.

Vibert documentary

Landscapes of Injustice

Working on a travelling museum exhibit on the seizure of the property of Japanese Canadians during the war after their internment.  See the description of the Landscapes of Injustice project.

Grafton Tylor Brown

An exhibit at the Legacy Art Gallery of the known British Columbia paintings of the most famous Black artist of the American- and Pacific North- West is scheduled for January-March 2017. 

Public History

Public History is the branch of our discipline that connects history directly with the public.  This happens through many avenues:  the internet, mobile phone apps, museums, interpretive programs, heritage planning, film, journalism, drama….  The History Department has both Undergrad and graduate courses in Public History – and a new MA program in Public History in the works which we expect to launch in 2017.

Public history class

Digital History


Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History

UVic is the home base for the most used Canadian history pedagogical website in the country with over 1,500 users a day!   This site is home to 13 intriguing real historical mysteries which students are invited to solve by exploring the evidence.  There are another 44 shorter mystery quests drawn from the historical archives.  Also available en français!

Mysteries project

The Canadian Great War Project

In November 2016, the History Department and the Library took responsibility for the long term preservation and enhancement of one of Canada’s premier Great War websites.  The Canadian Great War Project is a crowd sourced website that includes fully searchable data on over 170,000 soldiers and thousands of transcribed pages of war diaries letters post cards and photos about Canadians in the First World War.

Founded by Mr. Marc Leroux, a Canadian living in the US, the site has grown steadily over more than a decade thanks to the contributions of hundreds of supporters across Canada and around the world. In the years ahead, the site will continue to welcome contributions from supporters and provide free and open access to all as part of the Library’s digital collection.

A new search engine and improved database was released in November but the full transition to a significantly enhanced site will not be complete until the fall of 2017.


Victoria’s Chinatown: A Gateway to the Past and Present of Chinese Canadians

Stories, photos, maps, documents and artefacts regarding the oldest and once the largest Chinatown in Canada.  Led by Dr.  Zhongping Chen (principal investigator) and Dr. John Price working with the local Chinese Canadian community and the UVic Libraries, with a grant from the Community Historical Recognition Program of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development of British Columbia.

City Goes to War

Victoria in the era of WW I.  This website has a series of student thematic projects and over 1000 archival documents relating to Victoria in the decade 1910-1920.

Victoria’s Victoria

A collection of microhistories of Victoria in the Victorian era created by students.  


All the data you ever wanted on everyone who lived on Vancouver Island from 1881-1911.  This is a compilation of census, directory and tax roles for Victoria and much of Vancouver Island. 

Grafton Tyler Brown

The Missing Paintings of Grafton Tylor Brown: a brief biography of the trans-racial first professional artist in British Columbia and a list of his known paintings and their locations. 


The Colonial Despatches

All the correspondence between the governors of Vancouver Island and British Columbia and the Colonial Office. 

The Fort Victoria Journal

The daily journal kept at Fort Victoria from 1846-1850.

British Colonist Newspaper 1858-1951

All the issues of the British Colonist (also called The Daily British Colonist, the Daily Colonist, and other variants) from its first issue in 1858 to December 1950.   Once trapped between its crumbling covers, the chronicle of Victoria and British Columbia is now available at the click of a mouse.

Historic Map Portal

Over 900 historic maps relating to southern Vancouver Island and BC.


City Stats

site designed to encourage the use of measures of residential segregation in Canadian urban history. City Stats provides access to several measures of segregation by ethnic group, providing decennial results from 1961 to 2001 for all areas in Canada with census tracts (in 1991 and 2001 we use "single origin" data).

Historical Research and Scholarship

Our cutting edge research and scholarship is too long to list here but check out a list of our books and prize winners.