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Wilfrid Laurier University Laurier Brantford
September 25, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Dr. Jason Ellis

Contract Academic Staff

Contact Information

Office Location: RCW 311
Office Hours: Fridays, 1 to 2 PM, or by appt.
Academic Background

Ph.D., York University, History
M.A., York University, History
B.Ed., OISE-University of Toronto, Intermediate-Senior, History and French-as-a-second-language
B.A. (Hons.), Queen’s University, History and French Studies (minor)


I am an educational historian and interdisciplinary scholar whose research examines the theme of education and change. My Ph.D. dissertation (York, 2011), “Backward and Brilliant Children’: A Social and Policy History of Disability, Childhood, and Education in Toronto’s Special Education Classes, 1910 to 1945,” was awarded the Canadian History of Education Association’s 2011-12 Cathy L. James memorial prize. The project examines the often-checkered history of early special education in Toronto, from approximately 1910 to 1945. Drawing on scholarship from disability history and employing pupil record cards as a main source, this research pays particular attention to the experiences of young people with disabilities and learning difficulties as they, and sometimes their parents as well, navigated the special class system in a time of dramatic educational transformation and reform.

A second research project that I have begun working on examines urban schooling in three Canadian cities between 1881 and 1929, with a particular focus on urban education and the idea of social and political change. I will present a first paper from this project, entitled “Socialists and Canadian Public Education: From Edges to Convergences,” at the 2013 Canadian Historical Association Conference.

I teach courses in Contemporary Studies, which are also cross-listed with the Children’s Education and Development option, at the Brantford campus. I have also taught educational studies, child and youth studies, history of education, and Canadian history at Western University, Brock University, OISE-U of T, and Trent University (Oshawa).

I am the English language book review editor for Historical Studies in Education and a co-president of the History of Childhood and Youth Group of the Canadian Historical Association.

Additional Information

Recent publications and presentations:

“The History of Education As ‘Active History’: A Cautionary Tale?” (24 September 2012).

(with Paul Axelrod) “Exceptional Students: Special Education in Toronto Schools, 1910-1980,” Canadian History of Education Association Conference 2012 (Vancouver).

 “‘There is no such thing as an “average” child’: Special Education Policies and the Classroom Experiences of Young People in Toronto and in a North American Perspective, 1910 to 1945.” History of Education Society 50th Annual Meeting 2010 (Boston).

“‘Mental equality where physical equality has been denied’: Special education and ‘handicapped’ children and adolescents in Toronto schools, 1920-1945.” Minnesota Symposium on Disability Studies and Inclusive Education 2010 (Minneapolis).

“Telling Stories about Disabled Identities: Approaches to the Social History of Disability in Interwar Canada.” Canadian Historical Association Conference 2010 (Montreal).

Courses taught

CT/CO 326, “Children, Toys, and Media.”
CT/CO 430, “Youth Cultures.”