Prof. Craig Heron

Conference celebrates the career of Professor Craig Heron


Craig Heron

Craig Heron

A two-day conference will celebrate the career of Professor Craig Heron, a longstanding member of the Departments of Social Science and History in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). The conference, held at York University and in downtown Toronto on May 26 and 27, is being held in advance of Heron's retirement on July 1. It will feature leading scholars from across Canada, presenting papers on the ideas and activities that animated Heron’s long career.

“It was a challenge to build a conference that recognized all the different aspects of Craig’s career,” said Professor Kathryn McPherson, associate dean of faculty affairs and a longtime colleague of Heron in the History Department. “The range of his efforts is just stunning – productive scholar, energetic public historian, active teacher, and union activist.”

One of the pioneers of social history in Canada, Heron has pursued a balance  in scholarship, teaching, and service. He arrived at York University in 1982 and published nine books and collections and countless articles on subjects ranging from work and family to alcohol and politics. Heron’s latest book, Lunch-Bucket Lives, Remaking the Workers’ City (2015), won the prestigious International Labor History Association Book of the Year Award for 2015. This and two of his other books have been shortlisted for the Canadian Historical Association’s John A. Macdonald Prize, awarded for the best book in Canadian history.

Heron served the University in several capacities. He was chair of the Department of Social Science, vice-president (external) of York University Faculty Association (YUFA), and a long-serving, active member of York University’s Senate. He supervised more than 30 graduate students and sat on countless dissertation committees over the years. His students now work in universities, governments, labour unions, and heritage groups across the country.

Heron was also active beyond the university. He served as vice-chair of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the co-founder of the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, the president of the Canadian Historical Association, and in many other capacities. He even developed an innovative and entertaining board game meant to teach public school students about working class family life in the 19th century.

To honour the range of his efforts, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) recently presented Heron with the Lee Lorch Award, which “recognizes academics who excel in each of the domains of academic life: teaching, research, service to the institution and to the community.”

Conference panels will feature research papers that reflect on the key ideas that animated Heron’s career, with topics like the Politics of Labour, Public History, the Union and the University, and a roundtable reflection on Four Decades of Labour History in Canada. Presenters are junior and senior scholars, come from inside and outside the university, and will arrive from across Canada.

The conference is sponsored by the Department of History. Full schedule, details and registration are available at

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