Berger, Carl

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Berger, Carl

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Professor Carl Berger was born in The Pas, Manitoba on February 25, 1939. He attended the University of Manitoba where he received a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in 1961 and was awarded the Gold Medal for highest standing in the Honors course. During his years at University of Manitoba he was holder of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Following graduation, he enrolled in the Masters’ programme at the University of Toronto with a University of Toronto Open Scholarship of $2000.00 [1]. After completing his Master of Arts degree in 1962, he immediately enrolled in the doctoral programme. His thesis “The vision of grandeur: studies in the ideas of Canadian imperialism, 1867-1914” was supervised by Prof. J.M. S. Careless and completed in 1967. It became the foundation for his first book, The sense of power: studies in the ideas of Canadian imperialism, 1867-1914 published in 1970.

While undertaking his doctoral research, Prof. Berger was employed as a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Toronto (1964-1966). In 1966 he was appointed Assistant Professor, and three years later was promoted to Assistant Professor. In 1976 he became a full professor in the Department of History [2]. Among his colleagues in the Department of History during these years were many of the leaders in Canadian studies such as Kenneth McNaught, Donald Creighton, J. M. S. Careless, W. J. Eccles and others.

During his forty years with the University, Prof. Berger published four books, numerous articles and reviews, and edited and contributed to many more books on Canadian history. His 1976 book The writing of Canadian history: aspects of English Canadian Historical Writing won the Governor-General’s Award for non-fiction. In 1990 The sense of power was named one of twenty best books by the Social Science Federation of Canada published since 1940.

In other academic duties, Prof. Berger supervised many graduate students in the completion of doctoral theses in Canadian history. Some of these students are today prominent members of the Canadian academic community, for example, Prof. Gerald Friesen, University of Manitoba, Prof. Douglas Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal for UBC Okanagan, Prof. Brook Taylor, Mount St. Vincent University, and Prof. Michael Gauvreau, McMaster University.

In addition to the recognition Prof. Berger has received for his publications, he has also been honored by his peers. In 1976 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1984 the Society gave him the J. B. Tyrrell Historical Medal. In its citation for this award, the Society recognized that “Carl Berger has made an original contribution to our understanding of the Canadian past. Almost single handedly he has opened up and illuminated the intellectual history of modern Canada…. Carl Berger has established himself firmly as an innovative scholar and a leading Canadian historian of his generation.” [3]

He retired in 2003.


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[1] UTARMS A1973-0026/0027 (63). The Pas Northern Mail, June 27, 1962.
[2] UTARMS B2008-0012/005 (05) – Curriculum vitae, 1996
[3] Royal Society of Canada web site:

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