Morton, William Lewis

William Lewis Morton, historian, professor (b at Gladstone, Man 13 Dec 1908; d at Medicine Hat, Alta 7 Dec 1980). Educated at the University of Manitoba and Oxford, Morton combined a lengthy career as a professor of history at U of Man and Trent University with a record of distinguished publications. By the 1950s he had become one of Canada's best-known and most accomplished historians. In his writings he consistently sought to combine his commitment to regional distinctiveness with his concern for elucidating the nature of the Canadian identity, particularly as it was shaped and structured by imperial links with France and England. Among his many books, conservative in tone and interpretation, are The Progressive Party in Canada (1950), winner of the Governor General's Award for nonfiction; Manitoba: A History (1957) and The Canadian Identity (1961). The Critical Years (1964) was one volume in the Canadian Centenary Series, of which Morton was executive editor. "History is not an academic mystery," he once wrote. "It's what the community thinks about itself, how it sorts out ideas."