Meredith Legace is a third year Honours student in History at Wilfrid Laurier University. She has worked with the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada for the last three years, and originally started as a volunteer working on the Through Veterans’ Eyes project under Dr. Mark Humphries. Meredith is now a part of the Copp Scholars program and is currently researching under the supervision of Dr. Brian Tanguay. In addition to working at LCSC, she is also the Vice President of Academics for the Laurier History Students’ Association and enjoys involving more students in history through academic and social events. Meredith looks forward to continuing her studies at Wilfrid Laurier University with the hopes of finishing her undergraduate degree and returning to pursue a Master of Arts degree.
What field of Canadian history are you most interested in and how has this influenced your research topic?
I am most interested in local and family history and its ties to Canadian military history. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I have pursued individual projects outside of my studies in discovering information about local veterans and the names of soldiers inscribed on our cenotaph. Working in the local archives has significantly influenced my research pursuits and has guided my interests into local and military history. I would like to continue pursuing my interests in this field and hope to find a specific topic which can further guide my research following my undergrad. In my role as a research assistant at LCSC, however, understanding the history of the French language has been an additional area of interest that I have been able to explore. Through conducting my research to fulfill my outlined tasks, I have learned a lot about the history of Bill 101 and Bill 96 and developed my knowledge and curiosity about the preservation of the French language.
What inspired you to write about your research topic and what contribution do you hope to make to your area of research?
In working on this project with Dr. Brian Tanguay, I hope to contribute to the development of an understanding about how the French language exists in Quebec but also throughout Canada. Through reviewing the various Office Québécois de la Langue Française and Statistics Canada studies, it has become clear how French, and its use has been continually declining due to a variety of factors. I hope that through the area of research, which is being studied, more Canadian citizens can be aware of the status of language in the country.
What part of your argument changed most during the writing process, and how has this impacted how you think about the final project?
Though I have not had to create an argument throughout my work, I have developed a better understanding of the ideas that are being formulated and have been able to see both sides of the argument. Since beginning my research under Dr. Tanguay, I have come to understand how the regulations being put in place by the Quebec government have helped increase the French language but have also witnessed how it has affected the English-speaking population. Through witnessing both sides of the argument, it has allowed me to have a much more refined and comprehensive understanding of what is taking place.
What research and writing tips do you find have helped you the most during your studies?
What has most helped me in conducting my research and writing, is setting out a list of priorities that I wanted to accomplish before the end of the week and ensuring that my goals were being met. I also have made sure I have worked on becoming more adept at using different research methods and developing my skills in finding academic sources and articles. Included in all of this, has been seeking the help of my supervisors, Eric Story and Emily Oakes, who have been incredibly helpful at making sure we are all staying on track with our projects and always checking in to answer any questions and help out in any way.
What activities or hobbies have best helped you destress after a long day of writing?
My favorite way to destress is through baking for my friends and family. Over the pandemic, I have discovered that baking is a significant interest of mine and is something I enjoy following a stressful week. I always look forward to making a quick batch of cookies or figuring out a lengthy recipe that may take several hours to complete and it makes it all the more enjoyable when I get to share with others!
What advice do you have for others who are also working on history research?
My advice for those who are working on history research is to explore the small details and personal stories. There have been many times where the most interesting part of my work is found in the stories that personalize everything I have been reading. In discovering small details and learning more about the lives and experiences of others, it makes the entire researching process that much easier and more enjoyable.
Off the Cuff is an interview-style series hosted by Kyle Pritchard which explores the research of early-career academics with ties to the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada. The series allows scholars the opportunity to present their research to a wider online audience and to express the goals and challenges that they see in the field of Canadian History today.