Photo of Bruce S. Elliott

Bruce S. Elliott

Professor Emeritus - 18th-19th c. social history; gravestones, cemeteries and memorialization; history of eastern Ontario and western Quebec; immigration from 1760 to 1875

Degrees:B.A. (Carleton), M.A. (Leicester), Ph.D. (Carleton)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 7512
Office:426 Paterson Hall

Bruce Elliott is a specialist in 18th and 19th century social and immigration history, in local and community history (both as a discipline and in the specific contexts of eastern Ontario and western Quebec), and in material culture, public history and heritage studies.  He taught courses on Ottawa neighbourhoods, gravestones and cemeteries, and 19th century immigration, amongst other things.  He was the department’s graduate chair for seven years, and was one of the founders of its MA in Public History, in which he remained active as a teacher and supervisor.  Bruce has published on Irish and English immigration to Canada; his Irish Migrants in the Canadas won several awards and remains in print in its second edition.  In 2003 he hosted the first international conference on emigrant letters which resulted in an edited collection of analytical papers, Letters Across Borders: The Epistolary Practices of International Migrants, co-edited with David Gerber and Suzanne Sinke.  His current research is on the North American monument industry, particularly its transition from craft to industry.  He has published articles on the American Civil War headstone program and on gravestones of free persons of colour in Bermuda.

Bruce is active in the local heritage community in an advisory capacity to local government, and is involved with Pinhey’s Point and Fairfields historic sites.  He was the former City of Nepean’s historian from 1986 to 1990 and the author of The City Beyond: A History of Nepean, Birthplace of Canada’s Capital, 1792-1990 (1991).  His publications have received awards from the American Association for State and Local History, Canadian Historical Association, Ontario Historical Society, and Champlain Society, and his activities in heritage have been recognized by awards from the Ontario Heritage Trust, Ontario Genealogical Society, British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, Institut d’histoire et de recherche sur l’outaouais, and by the award of a Nepean 2000 Millennium Medal.

Supervisory areas

  • 18th-19th century Canadian social history
  • Gravestones, cemeteries and memorialization
  • Local and community history
  • Immigration from 1760 to 1875
  • History of Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec
  • Rural history

Research Interests

  • Gravestones and cemeteries; the North American monument industry; gravestones and gravestone carvers of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia; gravestones, cemeteries and monuments of Bermuda; the American Civil War headstone program
  • The heritage movement in Ottawa; Ottawa urban history
  • Social, economic, and political history of March Township, Ontario
  • English and Irish emigration to British North America before Confederation
  • Emigrant letters

Honours and Awards

  • 2013 Nepean Museum Wall of Fame
  • 2013 Honorary Patron Member (honorary life membership), National Museum of Bermuda, “in recognition of … significant contributions to the Museum”
  • 2005 Inducted into British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa’s “Hall of Fame”, for “long and varied contributions to the Society and to the field of genealogy”
  • 2004 Ontario Heritage Foundation Community Recognition Program 2004 – on nomination by City of Ottawa in the area of Cultural Heritage
  • 2000 Nepean 2000 Millennium Medal, in recognition of years of research, advice, and consultative work with the City of Nepean concerning the City’s past
  • 2000 Award of Merit from Ontario Genealogical Society to the Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD), of which a founding director
  • 1993 Fred Landon Award, Ontario Historical Society, for the best book on Ontario local or regional history (The City Beyond)
  • 1992 Certificate of Commendation, American Association for State and Local History
  • 1992 Honorary life membership, Ontario Genealogical Society
  • 1990 Joseph Brant Award for the best book on Ontario’s multicultural heritage from the Ontario Historical Society (Irish Migrants in the Canadas)
  • 1989 Floyd Chalmers Prize of the Champlain Society for the best work on the history of Ontario published in 1988 (Irish Migrants in the Canadas)
  • 1987 Certificate of Recognition, Ontario Genealogical Society
  • 1986  Philemon Wright Award, Institut d’histoire et de recherche sur l’outaouais

Recent Publications

“Proclaiming Modernity in the Monument Trade: Barre Granite, Vermont Marble and National Advertising, 1910-1932” in Susan Dobscha, ed., Death in a Consumer Culture (Routledge, 2016): 13-29

“Cemetery Reform, Ultramontanism, and Irishness: the Creation of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia”, for special number on Irish Catholic Halifax, Mark McGowan and Michael Vance, eds., of Canadian Catholic Historical Association, Historical Studies, 81 (2015): 105-138

“Second wave: The Yorkshire legacy beyond Chignecto” in Paul Bogaard, ed., Yorkshire immigrants to Atlantic Canada: Papers and proceedings from the Yorkshire 2000 conference (Sackville, N.B.: Tantramar Heritage Trust, 2012)

“Memorializing the Civil War Dead: Modernity and Corruption under the Grant Administration”, Markers 27 (2011), 14-55

Proclaiming respectability across the colour line: Headstones of free blacks in St Peter’s churchyard, St George’s, Bermuda”, Post-Medieval Archaeology 45, part 1 (2011), 19-211

“Records of Labourers, Squatters, and Tenants on the Rideau Canal” in Katherine M. McKenna, ed., Labourers on the Rideau Canal, 1826-1832: From Work Site to World Heritage Site (Ottawa: Borealis Press, 2008), 97-129

Letters Across Borders: The Epistolary Practices of International Migrants (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) (ed. with David Gerber and Suzanne Sinke)

“‘Settling Down’: Masculinity and the Rite of Return in a Transnational Community,” in Marjory Harper, ed., Emigrant Homecomings (Manchester: Machester University Press, 2005), 153-83

Irish Migrants in the Canadas: A New Approach (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004), Second Edition

Recent Graduate Supervisions

Katherine Morrow, “Missing Memorials: The City of Ottawa and the Failure of Municipal First World War Commemoration”, MA research essay (2019)

Dorothy-Jane Smith, “The Ottawa Valley Journal and the Modern Countryside: A City-Country Newspaper and the New Journalism in Eastern Ontario, 1887 to 1925”, PhD thesis (2018)

Jennifer Halsall, “Rooted in the Land: Community, Memory, and Placemaking in Ottawa’s Greenbelt”, MA research essay (2018) (with John C. Walsh)

Michael McLaughlin, “Irish Catholic voluntary associations in the Canadian liberal order, 1840-1882”, PhD thesis (2016)

Kathryn Boschmann, “Being Irish on the Prairies: Repertoire, performance and environment in oral history narratives of Winnipeg Irish Canadians”, MA thesis (2015) (with Joanna Dean)

Sinead Cox, “Pioneer Prosperity, Pioneer Poverty: Indigence and Class Disparity in the Pioneer Narratives of Rural Southwestern Ontario Community Museums”. MA research essay (2014)

Dorothy-Jane Smith, “The Community and the Fair: Vankleek Hill, West Hawkesbury Township and the Agricultural Fair, 1900 to 1950”, MA thesis, (2011)

Joshua Blank, “Reaching Back to Move Forward: Historical Memory and Cultural Re-definition in Canada’s First Polish Community”, MA thesis (2010)

Margaret Baines, “To Recover the Dead: The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society and War of 1812 Reinterment Ceremonies in Niagara Falls, Ontario, 1891-1910”, MA research essay (2010)

Kathleen Talarico, “Standing Shoulder to Shoulder: the Experience of the Italians who Immigrated to Ottawa in the Postwar Period,” research essay (2008) (with Marilyn J. Barber)

Karen Gabert, “Locating Identity: The Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Village as a Public History Text”, MA research essay (2007) (with John C. Walsh)

Erik J.M. Lang, “New Denmark, New Brunswick: New Approaches in the Study of Danish Migration to Canada, 1872-1901,” MA thesis (2005).

Ryan Eyford, “Icelandic Migration to Canada, 1872-1875: New Perspectives on the ‘Myth of Beginnings’,” MA thesis (2003)