Tucked away amongst the sugar maples in Peterborough’s historic downtown lies a collection of buildings that say: “Canadian history lives here”. But even before the buildings were there, the drumlin-marked landscape, where Mississaugi Annishnaabe ancestors traversed along the Great Portage from Chemong Lake, has been a quintessential snapshot of Canada. This property is Traill College, where original Victorian structures peacefully coexist alongside mid-century modern features, personifies the balance of discourse between antiquity and the contemporary. Honouring 19th century settler and early Canadian author Catharine Parr Traill, the college provides the ideal destination as home of Trent’s prestigious School for the Study of Canada.
Though the school was founded in 2015, Canadian Studies has deep roots at Trent - the first university to establish a program dedicated to the study of Canada. Inspired by the historic “Valley of the Trent” and the local community’s focus on education, Trent’s founders knew from the beginning that the institution would act as a centre for unearthing and debating the Canadian identity. When founding president Professor Thomas HB Symons opened the University in 1964, he impressed upon his audience:
“It is natural that this University should feel a particular interest in the study of history and culture of its community and of our nation. It is very much the hope and wish of everyone associated with Trent University that it may become in the fullness of time a useful and significant centre for Canadian Studies.”
Trent Attracts Top Canadian Studies Scholars
More than 50 years later, Canadian studies at Trent has become a noteworthy place for students wishing to participate in community-driven, multidisciplinary studies. The well-established undergraduate and graduate programs have earned a national reputation for teaching excellence, making Trent a leading destination for students who wish to study and discuss ‘Canada’ from every angle. This tremendous teaching standard continues to attract top scholars and historians to the School for the Study of Canada, many of them garnering international recognition as intellectual leaders in their field, including Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer, who recently joined Trent as a tier 1 Canada Research chair in the Study of the Canadian North.
“I came to Trent’s School for the Study of Canada because of its strong national reputation as a leading hub for interdisciplinary Canadian Studies,” explains Prof. Lackenbauer. “We have an enthusiastic and highly-specialized faculty whose priority is to help students identify various ideas and methods to interpret our country and our world.”
Today’s Canadian Studies Experts Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders
A place where new ideas are nurtured in an historical environment, Traill College serves as an important hub for the many students, faculty and scholars who seek answers about Canada and its place in the world. Whether they’re in the field working with local communities or teaching at Trent’s Peterborough or Oshawa campuses, they all call the School for the Study of Canada home.
While the 40+ faculty at the School for the Study of Canada are known for their innovative research, they’re also committed to shaping the next generation of scholars. Whether they’re guiding students through complicated topics such as sovereignty, nationalism, indigeneity, or national identity, they are keen to mentor their students as they make sense of what it means to be ‘Canadian’.
Trent University recognizes that without the contributions and dedication of faculty that make up the School for the Study of Canada, we would not be the institution we are today. In celebration of these innovative individuals, a new article series #TrentExploresCanada will traverse the many ways in which these experts shed a different light on what it means to be Canadian.
Canadian Studies was born at Trent University. This story is part of the #TrentExploresCanada series, spotlighting the leadership, interdisciplinary teaching and research expertise of individual faculty members, including those within Trent’s renowned School for the Study of Canada.