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Donica Belisle

Associate Professor
BA (Brandon); MA (Queen's); PhD (Trent)

Office: AH 451
Phone: 306-585-4334
Fax: 306-585-4827

Research interests

Dr. Donica Belisle is a social and cultural historian of northern North America and writes about race, gender, and consumer culture. Currently she is writing a book about the global and local history of Canadian sugar. Her other publications include a book about consumer culture (Purchasing Power, UTP 2020) and an award-winning book about mass retail (Retail Nation, UBC 2011). She has also written several articles, including an award-winning piece about how professors’ wives helped build the historical profession, without receiving credit.

In most cases, Dr. Belisle approaches the past from a materialist and intersectional perspective, meaning that she views material circumstances and ideas about social identity as integral to people’s lives. She is currently supervising graduate students in the areas of Métis, consumer, and gender history, and has a strong track record for helping her students win funding, publish articles, and succeed in future endeavours. Dr. Belisle has received SSHRC funding since 2005 and currently holds a SSHRC Insight Grant. She welcomes all media and student inquiries. For further information please visit her website at



Refereed Books

Purchasing Power: Women and the Rise of Canadian Consumer Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, March 2020. 262 pp.

Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011. 320 pp.

  • Winner, Pierre Savard Award in Canadian Studies, International Council for Canadian Studies, for an outstanding scholarly monograph on a Canadian topic.
  • Winner, Best Book in Canadian Studies, Canadian Studies Network.
  • Honourable Mention, Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, for the best scholarly book in Canadian history, Canadian Historical Association.
  • Shortlist, John W. Dafoe Book Prize, J.W. Dafoe Foundation, for non-fiction excellence about Canada, Canadians, and the Canadian nation in international affairs (five of forty-seven books shortlisted).
  • Chapter 3, “Crafting the Consumer Workforce,” reprinted in Advertising, Consumer Culture and Canadian Society: A Reader, ed. Kyle Asquith (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2019), 39–52.
  • Reviewed by Samantha Lack, Texas Tech University, Material Culture 47, no. 1 (2015): 88–90.
  • Reviewed by Scott Stephen, University of Manitoba, Manitoba History 76 (2014): 39–41.
  • Reviewed by Stéphanie O’Neill, Université de Montréal, Histoire sociale/Social History 45, no. 90 (2012): 429–30.
  • Reviewed by Estee Fresco, University of Western Ontario, The Canadian Historical Review 93, no. 2 (2012): 336–38.
  • Reviewed by Tyson Stewart, University of Western Ontario, Enterprise and Society 13, no. 2 (2012): 414–16.
  • Reviewed by Katrina Srigley, Nipissing University, Labour/Le travail 69 (2012): 193–95.
  • Reviewed by Nicolas Kenny, Simon Fraser University, BC Studies 176 (2012), 169-70.
  • Reviewed by Madeleine Kloske, University of Ottawa, Strata 3 (2011): 140–44.

Refereed Journal Articles

“Eating Clean: Anti-Chinese Advertising and the Making of White Racial Purity in the Canadian Pacific.” Global Food History 6, no. 1 (March 2020): 41-59. 18 pp. Accepted 4 January 2020; published advance online 9 January 2020.

With Kiera Mitchell. “Mary Quayle Innis: Faculty Wives’ Contributions and the Making of Academic Celebrity.” The Canadian Historical Review 99, no. 3 (2018): 456–86. 30 pp.

  • Honourable Mention, Hilda Neatby Article Prize, for best English-language article in Canadian women’s history, Canadian Committee on Women’s History, Canadian Historical Association.

“Conservative Consumerism: Consumer Advocacy in Woman’s Century Magazine during and after World War I.” Histoire sociale/Social History 47, no. 93 (2014): 111–38. 27 pp.

“Crazy for Bargains: Inventing the Irrational Female Shopper in Modernizing English Canada.” The Canadian Historical Review 92, no. 4 (2011): 581–606. 25 pp.

  • Winner, Hilda Neatby Article Prize, for best English-language article in Canadian women’s history, Canadian Committee on Women’s History, Canadian Historical Association.

“Virtue and Vice: Consumer Culture in English Canadian Fiction before 1940.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 43, no. 1 (2011): 165–88. 28 pp.

“Negotiating Paternalism: Women and Canada’s Largest Department Stores, 1890 to 1960.” The Journal of Women’s History 19, no. 1 (2007): 58–81. 23 pp.

“A Labour Force for the Consumer Century: Commodification in Canada’s Largest Stores, 1890–1940.” Labour/Le travail 58, no. 2 (2006): 107–44. 37 pp.

“Exploring Postwar Consumption: The Campaign to Unionize Eaton’s in Toronto, 1948–1952.” The Canadian Historical Review 86, no. 4 (2005): 641–72. 31 pp.

  • Reprinted in Home, Work, and Play: Situating Canadian Social History, 3rd ed., ed. James Opp and John C. Walsh (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015), 263–77.

“Toward a Canadian Consumer History.” Labour/Le travail 52, no. 2 (2003): 181–206. 24 pp.

“‘Granting a Square Deal’: The Brandon Unemployed Worker and the Political Education of Brandon’s Jobless during the Great Depression.” Manitoba History 36, no. 2 (1999): 37–40. 3 pp.

Refereed Book Chapters

“Guilty Pleasures: Consumer Culture in the Fiction of Mary Quayle Innis.” In Consuming Modernity: Changing Gendered Behaviours and Consumerism, 1919–1945, ed. Cheryl Warsh and Dan Malleck, 258–73. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013. 16 pp.

“Sexual Spectacles: Women in Canadian Department Store Magazines between 1920 and 1950.” In Writing Feminist History: Productive Pasts and New Directions, ed. Catherine Carstairs and Nancy Janovicek, 135–58. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013. 22 pp.

Short Reads and Opinion Pieces

“What Canada knows about food crises can help prevent shortages and protect workers during coronavirus.” The Conversation. 11 May 2020.

“Going Shopping in Pandemic Times.” University of Toronto Press Blog. 1 May 2020. Republished by the University of Regina, 19 May 2020,

With Kiera Mitchell. “Giving Credit: Gender and the Hidden Labour behind Academic Prestige.” London School of Economics Impact Blog, 18 September 2019,

  • Republished as “Behind Every Successful Man,” London School of Economics Business Review, 21 September 2019. With Andrea Eidinger.

“Who Are Canada’s Most ‘Historically Significant Women’? A Response to the Globe and Mail.” The Conversation, 16 November 2018,

Review Essays

“Interrogating the State: Recent Writing in Canadian Women’s and Gender History.” Acadiensis 40, no. 1 (2011): 97–105. 8 pp.

“Suburbanization and Mass Culture in North America: A Review Essay.” Labour/Le travail 57, no. 1 (2006): 135–44. 9 pp.

Book Reviews

The Canadian Historical Review (3), Labour/Le travail (4), International Review of Social History, American Review of Canadian Studies (3), Journal of Consumer Culture, Atlantis, Urban History Review, and H-Canada (online blog).