Historians possess a quiet and immeasurable power: they preserve our stories, stories that define a nation, a gender, a region and its peoples, or all. To re-evaluate facts, to reimagine history, takes a visionary rebel and Dr. Margaret Conrad is an example of one. Her work in two areas has been particularly valuable: history seen from the point of view of women's role and participation, and a re-conceptualization of Atlantic Canada's history, both as a region and an essential element of Canada. What is particularly inspiring about Dr. Conrad is that she fulfills the broadest possible spectrum of the humanities tradition – as a teacher, an advisor, a thinker, a writer and a citizen activist. In celebration of the contributions she has made to our understanding of history, the University of Manitoba is proud to bestow upon her an Honorary Doctor of Laws.
Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Dr. Conrad received a Bachelor of Arts from Acadia University in 1967, and then studied at the University of Toronto, earning her Ph.D. in 1979. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1995, Dr. Conrad received both the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004.
Dr. Conrad taught at Acadia University for many years where she helped to found Atlantis: a Women’s Studies Journal as well as the Planter Studies Centre, which explored the history of eighteenth-century migrations to the Maritimes. In 2002, she was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies at the University of New Brunswick. In that capacity, she probed the potential of Humanities Computing through the highly innovative Atlantic Canada Portal. Of the nine scholarly books she has written, Atlantic Canada: A Region in the Making, which she co-authored with James K. Hiller, won the 2002 Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Prize and her biography of Maritime political leader George Nowlan was a runner up for the CHA’s Macdonald prize. Her essay, “”Sundays Always Make Me Think of Home’: Time and Place in Canadian Women's History”, has made an enduring impact on the way historians conceptualize women and the work they do in production, reproduction, and caring for the young, the ill, and the elderly.
Esteemed English scholar, Gwendolyn Davies, describes Dr. Conrad’s scholarship – involving the detailed use of personal diaries in her research -- as taking place “at the intersection of research and originality”. Other contemporaries praise Dr. Conrad’s lifelong work of promoting history to Canadians – she has given over sixty public addresses, seven distinguished lectures, and published four book-length surveys of Canadian history in no less than sixteen editions for undergraduate students and the general public. She was President of the Canadian Historical Association from 2005 to 2007, and has served on a multitude of boards, including the Lafontaine-Baldwin Symposium, Canada’s National History Society, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Council of Canadian Academies.
The University of Manitoba is proud to honour Dr. Conrad for all she has done to enrich Canada’s historical narrative.