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Vol 39  No 2
Aug. 31, 2006


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Profs win prestigious award named after Memorial researcher

All the write stuff

by Jeff Green

Drs. Ches Sanger, left, and Anthony Dickinson are this year’s winners of the Keith Matthews Award for Best Book published on a nautical subject.
(Photo by Jeff Green)

Two well-known researchers have been recognized with a major international book award named in honour of a renowned historian who spent many years at Memorial University.

Drs. Ches Sanger, professor emeritus in Geography, and Anthony Dickinson, professor, Biology and executive director of the International Centre, are this year’s winners of the Keith Matthews Award for the Best Book published on a Canadian nautical subject or by a Canadian on any nautical subject. The award is presented annually by the Canadian Nautical Research Society.

They were chosen for their well-received book Twentieth Century Shore-Station Whaling in Newfoundland and Labrador which examines an almost-forgotten chapter of this province’s maritime history.

The society’s awards committee of prominent Canadian historians called their book an “engaging survey of shore-station whaling, that expertly weaves regional, community, industrial, commercial and family history into a powerful and lasting record of a vanished piece of Newfoundland and Labrador’s past.” They also considered it an “exceptionally well-researched, extensively illustrated, and a model of academic brevity.”

“This is very rewarding,” Dr Sanger said recently. “For me personally, coming from a historical geography background and being presented with an award named for Keith Matthews is a great honour. He was such an influence on myself and many other researchers at Memorial during the 1960s and ‘70s.”

Dr. Matthews, who died in 1984, was born in Devon, England, in 1938 and was educated at Oxford University. At Memorial, Dr. Matthews co-founded the Maritime History Group and produced important papers on this province’s fishery and its connection to western England. Dr. Matthews was also a founding member of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, and its first president.

Dr. Dickinson said winning the Keith Matthews Award is “a very satisfying achievement that marks nearly 20 years of collaboration with Dr. Sanger, and a return to an interest in marine mammal exploitation which began over 40 years ago on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia.”

Together the two have published more than a dozen articles as well as the book Norwegian Whaling in Newfoundland. Their research has helped raise awareness of modern whaling in this province and Canada and filled a gap in the literature on global whaling.

Drs. Sanger and Dickinson said little study has been done on the whaling industry in this province compared to other areas such as British Columbia, Norway, Japan and Antarctica which they called “a small but important initiative on the global scale.”

So for us, being able to examine the industry within this global perspective was very important,” added Dr. Dickinson. “Given the extreme amount of time it took us to locate and examine widely scattered and often sparse information, we are delighted that the end result has been accepted so well.”

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