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Jack Bumsted Wins J. W. Dafoe Prize

by Ryan McBride - Thursday, Apr 02, 2009 at 10:26am

Winnipeg scholar Jack Bumsted has won this year's John Wesley Dafoe Prize for his book, Lord Selkirk: A Life. The book chronicles the life of Lord Selkirk (born Thomas Douglas), who led the Selkirk settlers to the Red River Settlement. In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Bumsted said that Selkirk led a "fascinating life." "He started out his life as a scientist and a rationalist, and in his struggles with the North-West Company, he became a romantic adventurer." The administrators of the award said it was "exhaustively researched and masterfully written."

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Lord Selkirk

- Hardcover

by J. M. Bumstead - $39.95 - Add to Cart

Winner of the 2009 Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction and the 2009 J.W. Dafoe Prize.Thomas Douglas, the Fifth Earl of Selkirk (1770-1820), was a complex man of his times, whose passions left an indelible mark on Canadian history. A product of the Scottish Enlightenment and witness to the French Revolution, he dedicated his fortune and energy to the vision of a new colony at the centre of North America. His final legacy, the Red River Settlement, led to the eventual end of the dominance of the fur trade and began the demographic and social transformation of western Canada. The product of three decades of research, this is the definitive biography of Lord Selkirk. Bumsted's passionate prose and thoughtful analysis illuminate not only the man, but also the political and economic realities of the British empire at the turn of the nineteenth century. He analyzes Selkirk's position within these realities, showing how his paternalistic attitudes informed his "social experiments" in colonization and translated into unpredictable, and often tragic, outcomes. Bumsted also provides extensive detail on the complexities of colonization, the Scottish Enlightenment, Scottish peerage, the fur trade, the Red River settlement, and early British-Canadian politics.