The William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize was created in honour of Professor William Westfall, a long-time member of Atkinson College and York University’s Department of Humanities. For many years, Professor Westfall alternately taught in and supervised the Canadian Studies Program on York’s Keele campus, inspiring many students in their study of Canada. In recent years, he has been a passionate and outspoken promoter of Canadian Studies at York, continually articulating the importance of ongoing development and new research in this interdisciplinary field. The William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize was created to honour Professor Westfall’s commitment to the Program, and his ongoing contributions to our understanding of Canada.

Competition Description

The William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize is a University wide contest, open to all students registered in 1000, 2000 and 3000 level Canadian-themed courses on both Keele and Glendon campuses. Accordingly, the competition encourages papers written in either French and English. Once each year, one winner is chosen at each year level. These winners receive an official transcript note and their essay published online and permanently available on York's website. A static URL of this faculty-reviewed essay will remain easily accessible to those considering applications for graduate and professional studies.

Selection Process

Course directors nominated up to two papers per course by April 30, 2013. Submitted papers were read by two juries. First, a pre-reading jury of students and Canadian Studies Faculty chose three finalists at each of the 1000, 2000 and 3000 year levels. Second, a tenure-stream jury of professors select winning essays from these finalists, normally one outstanding paper per year level. The judges considered each paper's originality, creativity, readability, research and contribution to the study of Canada. Because of the overall quality of submissions, no prize was awarded at the 1000 level in 2013, while two prizes were awarded at the 3000 level. An honourable mention was awarded for a paper at the 2000 year level.

Juries: Pre-reading

  Thomas Berton (3rd Year Canadian Studies) Elisa DeLuca (2nd Year Biology/Education) Dr. Audrey Pyée (Glendon/History) Dr. Peter Stevens (Humanities/CDNS) Dr. Jon Sufrin (Humanities, CDNS Program Coordinator)  

Finalist Jury

  Professor Jody Berland (Humanities) Associate Professor Colin Coates (Glendon/History/CDNS) Assistant Professor Patricia Keeney (English) Professor Marcel Martel (History) Professor Don Rubin (Theatre) Professor Catriona Sandilands (Environmental Studies)

William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize Second Year Winner/Runner-Up

WINNER: “Towers of Power: An empirical analysis of Toronto’s Central Business District” by Jonathan Kitchen for SOSC 2710 [Submitted by Professor Lisa Drummond]

Kitchen travelled to Toronto’s business district to examine the physical form of downtown office tower complexes and Toronto’s PATH system. Especially for a second year course paper, his combination of theoretical fluency, empirical research (including observation), and relevant secondary sources is excellent. The author's photographs were an important addition, clearly illustrating the paper's argument that architecture in the Toronto urban core replicates and encourages inequitable social and spatial relations.

2. “Canadian Current Events Project – The Keystone XL Pipeline” by Frank Pinozzotto for CDNS 2200 [Submitted by Dr. Peter Stevens]

This report examines how the Keystone XL pipeline is being “framed” by its proponents and criticized by its detractors. The essay was very strong in many respects. In particular, the jury appreciated its clear demonstration of his learning process: the author does not draw his conclusions from established sources but rather thinks it through as he does the research, comparing arguments and coming to his own conclusions about the environmental efficacy of the pipeline. We recommend that he be publicly noted as runner-up for the prize.

William Westfall Canadian Studies Prize Third Year Winners

1. “Treaty Six: A Portrait of Cree Agency” by Jesse Thistle for HIST 3546 [Submitted by Course Director Victoria Freeman]

The author argues that current Canadian historiography imagines that, threatened with starvation, First Nations tribes were passive and compliant actors in the process of negotiating the Numbered Treaties of the North-West. With an excellent examination of primary and secondary sources, the author convincingly established that the Cree of the North-West were fully aware of their present and future needs, and not only had plenty of agency, but actually out-bargained the government negotiators. The jurists at every level singled out this paper for praise, noting in particular how well-written and convincing the essay was.

2. “Shifting Ground: Changing Communities in the Story Cycles The Hunting Ground and Aurora Montrealis” by Rebecca Freemantle for EN 3231 [Submitted by Professor Agnes Whitfield]

The jurists very much enjoyed this paper, several of us commenting that we would have to read Proulx’ Aurora Montrealis ourselves. Very well written indeed, it taught us something about both the genre of the short story cycle and about Quebec society in the mid-20th century. The author did additional research to add a historical dimension to her analysis of her texts, while the examination of the short story form underlined the subtle arguments of the essay. A typical set of comments was “sophisticated, insightful, and engagingly-written.”

Recent Submissions

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