About Me


I grew up in northern Quebec in the small town of Port-Cartier, and I credit the tiny school there (Riverview) with inspiring me to higher education.

My university career began at Queen's University in Ontario as a Chemistry major.  In my second year, I switched over to History but I still like to read about science. I really think that arts students need to know more science, and vice versa.

Before graduating from Queen's I spent a year at the University of Glasgow as an exchange student. During the Easter break, as I backpacked through Europe, I chipped away at the Berlin Wall that had fallen just months before - and thus began my long, abiding interest in that country.

Following my M.A. at the University of New Brunswick, I went on to PhD at McGill University where I studied under the illustrious Professor Hoffmann.

For my PhD research, I moved to Berlin. And not just anywhere in Berlin. I was steps away from Checkpoint Charlie. Everyday when I came back to my apartment, I looked toward that crossing point where the Wall once stood and marveled at how quietly it came down.

After a spell lecturing part-time at St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, I took up a full-time position as a History Professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. I left the rugged shores of northern Nova Scotia in 2003 for my current position at the University of Waterloo. And I have never regretted it. Every professor should be as lucky as me to have these fine students, and fine colleagues.

2007 was an important, and humbling, year for me. For one, I received tenure. I know that tenure itself is still mysterious to most people and is often cynically understood simply as a 'job-for-life.' Although the job security can't be overlooked, much more meaningful to me is that it means my department, my students, and other historians in the field consider my work important.

In that year I also won the Distinguished Teaching Award. Since students nominate instructors for this award, I feel particularly honoured to have received it. To my students, I say simply 'Thank You'. 

With Joachim Gauck, German Presidential Candidate