Rufus Z. Smith Award

Rufus Z. Smith Award

Deadline for nominations for the 2023 award is October 1, 2023. Send nomination letters to:

The Award is presented to the individual (or individuals) deemed to have written the best article in ARCS during the two years prior to the biennial conference at which it is presented. The prize is named after Rufus Z. Smith, a long-time secretary-treasurer of the Association.


The winner of the 2021 Rufus Z. Smith Award for the outstanding article in the American Review of Canadian Studies was Will Kymlicka, "The Precarious Resilience of Multiculturalism in Canada" ARCS Volume 51, Number 1 (2021).

Compared to other Western democracies, there has been relatively stable support for multiculturalism in Canada since its adoption in 1971, both amongst the general public and amongst the three main political parties. Conservative opposition to multiculturalism has, therefore, typically taken the form of “stealth” reforms to undercut its progressive potential, not direct frontal attacks. During the 2015 election, however, the Conservative Party campaigned on an explicitly anti-multiculturalist platform. This provided a clear opportunity to test “Canadian exceptionalism” in relation to public support for multiculturalism. This article explores the Conservatives’ strategy, and its impact on the election. The evidence suggests that a significant part of the Canadian electorate was responsive to an anti-multicultural—and more specifically anti-Muslim—discourse. However, when this discourse was pushed too far, voters recoiled from what was perceived as an excessive, and indeed “unCanadian,” politics of distrust and division.


The winner of the 2019 Rufus Z. Smith Award for the outstanding article in the American Review of Canadian Studies was Yulia Bosworth, "The ‘Bad’ French off Justin Trudeau: When Language, Ideology, and Politics Collide." ARCS  Volume 49, Number 1 (2019).

This article discusses the ideological underpinnings and sociolinguistic factors driving the pervasive negative social discourse on the quality of the French language spoken by Canada’s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The “obsession” among Québécois with the quality of Justin Trudeau’s French is demonstrated in an analysis of a corpus of commentary generated in Quebec’s mainstream press during the period surrounding the 2015 Canadian federal election. This intensely negative metadiscourse is shown to be rooted in the context of Quebec’s difficult sociolinguistic history and its contemporary language ideologies, viewed here as biased in favor of speakers with monolingual competence and French-Canadian ancestry. Crucially, the pervasive criticism of Justin Trudeau’s French and the ensuing denial to him of Francophone status are claimed here to serve as a proxy for extra-linguistic criticism and the positioning him as “other” with respect to Québécois collective identity.


The winner of the 2017 Rufus Z. Smith Award for the outstanding article in the American Review of Canadian Studies was Kim Green, “Routes of Resistance: Mobilizing Discourses of Opportunity in Ann Petry’s The Street and Austin Clarke’s The Meeting PointARCS  Volume 46, Number 1 (2016).

Ann Petry’s The Street and Austin Clarke’s The Meeting Point provide important representations and affirmations of black people’s use of movements such as educational attainment and economic advancement to create routes to resist inequitable treatment and demand equal access to the benefits of belonging to American and Canadian national communities. In The Street, Lutie employs intellectual and economic movements to achieve her American dream but learns that systematic inhibitions block her intended ascension. In The Meeting Point, Bernice also tries to attain education and make financial strides to achieve her Canadian dream but finds herself barred from fully materializing that dream. Lutie and Bernice continue their quests to fulfill their mobility ideals, despite obstructions they face. Through that movement, which is driven by their knowledge of the implications of their exclusions from promises of the nations they call home, they counter boundaries intended to restrict them. While they do not accomplish fully their upward mobility ideals, their resistance demonstrates their refusal to be denied the benefits of American and Canadian discourses of opportunity. Petry’s and Clarke’s representations of this persistent resistance help inform and give voice to struggles against exclusionary practices blacks in the United States and Canada continually experience.


The recipient of the 2015 Rufus Z. Smith Award for outstanding article in The American Review of Canadian Studies is Neel Baumgardner for his article "Waterton Lakes: The Business of Parks and Preservation in the North American Borderlands," ARCS Volume 44, Number 3 (2014).

While the Canadian Pacific instigated the establishment of Banff, Waterton Lakes National Park never had a connection to the Canadian main railway line. Instead, the Great Northern, the northernmost US transcontinental railroad, stepped in to develop Waterton Lakes and Glacier along the Alberta/Montana borderlands. With the completion of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Townsite, the railroad integrated the two spaces fiver years before the parks were formally designated, in 1932, as the world's first peace park. While big businesses, like the railroads, participated in the creation and development of parks, decidedly smaller business, from shops, groceries, restaurants, and hotelliers, operating both inside and adjacent to protected spaces, also influenced and benefitted from them as well.  Waterton Lakes and Glacier, as parks on the periphery of two nations, were profoundly shaped by ideas and actors that migrated across borders just as freely as the flora and fauna these spaces sought to protect.


The 2013 Rufus Z. Smith Award went to Soren Fanning for his article "Forging a Frontier: Social Capital and Canada's Mounted Police, 1867-1914," which appeared in ARCS Volume 42, Number 4, 2012. 

The article examines the role of the North West Mounted Police in creating communities in the Canadian prairies during the first decades of Confederation. Despite being created as an institution of law enforcement, the Mounted Police acted more often as a social boinding agent, creating the necessary conditions and organizations required to establish permanent communities otherwise isolated from one another. As the only federal presence in the frontier the force evolved into an autonomous institution of cultural stability, performing vital services and advocating for frontier objectives to the government in Ottawa.


The recipients of the 2011 Rufus Z. Smith Award for the outstanding article in The American Review of Canadian Studies is awarded to, Karen Jones, University of Kent, “From Big Bad Wolf to Ecological Hero: Canis Lupus and the Culture(s) of Nature in the American–Canadian West", ARCS, Vol. 40.3, Autumn 2010. 

From devil incarnate to ecological saint, Canis lupus, the gray wolf, has proved an object of intense fascination for the North American imagination. This essay plots changing attitudes toward wolves in four national parks along the Rocky Mountains with a view to exploring ideas about wilderness, conservation policy, animal crossings, and the frontier. Yellowstone and Glacier in the United States and Banff and Jasper in Canadawitnessed first the deliberate extermination and then the canonization of wolves in a little over a century. Choosing to follow the contours of the Rockies rather than the latitudes of the nation-state, I compare shifting policy and cultures of nature across boundaries, pointing to the value of transnational perspectives on the history of the American–Canadian West and the necessity of a borderlands approach when studying an animal prone to roaming across our political demarcations.