Historian of sexuality honoured for contributions to Canada’s intellectual heritage
By Patty Pitts
UVic history professor emeritus Angus McLaren is one of two winners of a Canada Council Molson Prize this year—the first historian from Western Canada to be awarded this honour. Two Molson Prizes, worth $50,000 each, are awarded every year to distinguished Canadians, one in the arts and the other in the social sciences or humanities. Montréal literary translator Sheila Fischman was the other 2008 prize winner.
Past award winners include historians Ramsay Cook and Donald Creighton along with a litany of other outstanding Canadians including Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Jack Shadbolt and Glenn Gould.
“I really do feel honoured. I was much surprised by the announcement of the award, and I’m of course pleased to be included in such a group of luminaries,” says McLaren, who started teaching at UVic in 1975 and retired in December.
McLaren is a world-renowned expert in the history of sexuality. He is the author of 10 books, some of which have been translated into as many as seven languages. His works range from a cultural history of impotence and an examination of what it means to be masculine to a study of eugenics in Canada and a history of contraception.
“Over the past three decades Angus has made an outstanding and pioneering contribution to the historical study of sexuality, gender and reproduction,” says Dr. Tom Saunders, chair of UVic’s history department. “His work is remarkable for its interdisciplinary character and for its enormous range across time, place and theme.
McLaren is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was recognized by the Royal Society for the best book written on the history of medicine in Canada.
“My being awarded the Molson Prize is a real credit to the University of Victoria, and in particular to the Department of History. The previous historians who have won this award were all located at either Québec or Ontario universities,” he says. “Whatever success I’ve enjoyed has been largely due to the support and encouragement that I have received at UVic.”
The Molson prizes recognize the recipients’ outstanding lifetime achievements and ongoing contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada. They are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts in cooperation with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.