W. L. Morton

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William Lewis Morton, OC (December 13, 1908 – December 7, 1980) was a noted Canadian historian who specialized in the development of the Canadian west. Along with Arthur R. M. Lower and Donald Creighton he was one of the dominant historians in this country.[1]

He was born in Gladstone, Manitoba. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University where he studied history. He returned to Canada to teach at Brandon College, the University of Manitoba, and then at Trent University. W.L. Morton served as Head of the Department of History and Provost of University College of the University of Manitoba. He helped initiate The Canadian Centenary Series project and served as the Executive Editor for the nineteen volume authoritative history of Canada. He served as President of the Canadian Historical Association from 1959-60.[2] Morton was one of the most prominent early faculty members of Trent University at Peterborough, Ontario, and was the first Master of the university's Champlain College.

Morton was a strong supporter of the Progressive Conservative Party, but was very much a Red Tory. In 1969, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his contributions as an historian, teacher and author of several books on Canadian History".[3]

Morton was a passionate nationalist and a conservative who fought against the liberal ideas that dominated Canadian thought after 1960, when the younger generation focused more on race, class, and gender as opposed to the national themes that intrigued Morton.[4]


  • Third Crossing: A History of the Town and District of Gladstone in the Province of Manitoba - 1946
  • The Progressive Party in Canada - 1950 (Winner of the 1950 Governor General's Award for Nonfiction)
  • The London Correspondence Inward from Eden Colvile 1849-1852 - 1956
  • Alexander Begg's Red River Journal and Other Papers Relative to the Red River Resistance of 1869-70 - 1956
  • Manitoba: A History - 1957
  • One University: A History of the University of Manitoba - 1960
  • The Canadian Identity - 1961
  • The Kingdom of Canada - 1963
  • The Critical Years: The Union of British North America, 1857-1873 - 1964
  • Manitoba: The Birth of a Province - 1965
  • Contexts of Canada's Past: Selected Essays of W.L. Morton - 1980


  1. ^ Kelly Boyd, ed., Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writers (1999) 2:840
  2. ^ Past Presidents, CHA
  3. ^ Order of Canada citation
  4. ^ Kelly Boyd, ed., Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writers (1999) 2:840

Further reading[edit]

  • Berger, Carl. The Writing of Canadian History: Aspects of English-Canadian Historical Writing Since 1900 (2nd ed. 1987), pp 238–58.
  • Berger, Carl, and Ramsay Cook, eds., The West and the nation: Essays in honour of W. L. Morton (1976).

External links[edit]