Board of Directors
A diverse team of volunteers
Board of Directors 2021-2022
Michel S. Beaulieu, President, Thunder Bay
Michel S. Beaulieu, PhD, CAHP is the Associate Vice-Provost Academic (Special Projects) and an External Relations Associate at Lakehead University. A full Professor of History, he is the past chair of the Department of History, a Docent of Social Science History at the University of Helsinki, a Docent of Modern North American History at Oulu University, and an Associate at the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University.
Michel currently serves on the Board of Directors of several regional, provincial, and national organizations. Currently, these include President of The Champlain Society, Vice-President of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, and the Board of Directors of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario.
In 2021, the Minister of National Defence appointed Michel as the Honorary Colonel of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment. Between 2018 and 2021, Michel held the rank of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel. In early 2019, Michel also became a member of the Manitoba and North West Ontario Regional Council for the Canadian Forces Liaison Council.
Kristin Ives, First Vice President, Leamington
Kristin is currently the Curator/Education Coordinator for the John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area, a 19 acre living historical farm museum, operated by the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA). Growing up in the Hillman Marsh Conservation Area in Leamington, the interpretation of human and natural history has always been of interest to Kristin.
While attending the University of Guelph to obtain her Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and English, Kristin volunteered for the Guelph Civic Museum and McCrae House. It was in that role that she discovered her passion for museum work. She went on to obtain her Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Sir Sandford Fleming College, Peterborough.
Kristin began her career as the Acting Registrar for Windsor’s Community Museum. In 2000, Kristin became the Assistant Curator of the John R. Park Homestead, working under the guidance of then Curator Janet Cobban. During that same time, Kristin also worked part time for seven years as the Remedial Action Plan Assistant for the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup environmental organization.
Over the years, Kristin has volunteered extensively with Windsor’s Community Museum, the Algonquin Club, and with various other organizations. Kristin is Chair of the South Western Ontario Heritage Council and serves on the Ontario Museum Association’s Regional Museums Network.
Laura Suchan, Second Vice President, Courtice
Laura Suchan M.A. is the Executive Director of the Oshawa Museum where she has been balancing budgets for over 30 years. Laura is passionate about the storytelling power of history and has taught oral history at Trent University and Durham College. She has acted as an oral history project consultant for several organizations including the Oshawa Historical Society, whose project and publication Lakefront Memories was recognized by the Ontario Museum Association with an Award of Merit for outstanding research.
She has written extensively about gravestones and cemeteries and is a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies. Laura is a proud founding member of the Women’s Herstory Connection, Durham Region presenting the social, cultural, political and intellectual pursuits of women to the history of Durham Region.
In 2019 Laura was recognized by the City of Oshawa with the Innovation and Creation Champion Award.
Mark Plishewsky, Treasurer, Oshawa
Mark Plishewsky is a Senior Associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers, providing general assurance and risk assurance services to a variety of clients across many industries in Canada (including accounting and audit services for utilities, financial institutions, mining, NPOs, emerging tech, and manufacturing). Prior to joining PwC, Mark obtained a Bachelor of Commerce with honours specialization in accounting as well as a post-graduate diploma in accounting from Ontario Tech University (formerly University of Ontario Institute of Technology). Having successfully written the CPA common final examination, and closely approaching his experience requirements, Mark is set to become a fully credited CPA within months.
It was during the wake of the financial crisis that Mark became impassioned with the need for more honest capital markets and institutions. This led him on a path towards the assurance profession. The “trust, but verify” idiom and emphasis on professional skepticism that underpin the field of public accounting fully align with his personal philosophy. He is honoured to be part of a profession with such rigorous standards and oversight, as well as the mandate to safeguard the public. These notions, together with his love of history, have brought Mark to the OHS Board.
Allan Macdonell, Secretary, Green Valley
Allan Macdonell (professor of sociology, retired) lives in Glengarry County and is involved locally, regionally and provincially in a variety of Ontario history, heritage and community projects. He served on the board of directors of Glengarry Historical Society for a decade, coordinating publication of Royce MacGillivray’s Dictionary of Glengarry Biography, and participating in a Québec-Ontario project to conserve markers on the historic 1791 land border.
He serves as a volunteer with South Glengarry Municipal Heritage and Ontario Trillium Foundation. Allan is an advocate for the rural heritage assets at the National Historic Site in “St. Raphael’s” (1786). He is a member of Glengarry Fencibles Trust (OHS affiliate), working to conserve Bishop’s House (1808), to protect its heritage value, and to secure a compatible new use.
Caroline Di Cocco, Past President, Bright’s Grove
Caroline was born in Italy, immigrated to Canada in 1957 at the age of six, and was raised in Sarnia, Ontario. She researched and co-authored the book One by One….Passo dopo passo… History of Italian Community in Sarnia Lambton…1870-1990. She has also written chapters in Nuova Luce Su Caboto, edited by Dr. Gabriele Scardellato. Her most recent book is titled Memory and Identity: Re-Creating Cultural Identity after Immigration.
In 1985 Caroline sat on the advisory board for Multiculturalism to the Minister of Culture for the Province of Ontario. In 1980-1990 she founded and worked with hundreds of Italian-Canadian youth in folk groups and other cultural endeavours. She founded the Italo-Canadian Cultural Club/Laziali di Sarnia in 1987. In 2008-2009 she chaired the building committee for the Dow Centre for Youth, which realized the construction of a large center for youth at risk, in Sarnia.
Caroline was elected to municipal government in 1997 and selected as a Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario from June 1999, a position she held until October 2007. In government she sat on Management Board of Cabinet for four years and was Minister of Culture. She also held the positions as Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, to the Attorney General, and to Children and Youth. She chaired the women’s caucus and select committee on Democratic Reform.
Among many achievement awards received from the local and provincial levels, in 2002 she was bestowed the honour of “Cavalieri” (knighthood) from the Republic of Italy. She is a member of the President’s Circle of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, and is a founder and currently sits on the executive of the Italian-Canadian Archive Project (ICAP), a national initiative.
Gabriella Colussi Arthur, Director, Toronto
Gabriella Colussi Arthur, Ph.D, (Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, York University) has taught Italian Studies (language, culture, study abroad, second-language pedagogy) for over thirty-five years and in recent decades developed an expertise in Italian-Canadian Studies from an interdisciplinary perspective buttressed by her doctoral tripartite methodology—Breadth, Depth, Form—as the basis for collecting and analyzing immigrant family stories.
Her work in this field includes the published history of VLG Charities and its LTC residence, Villa Leonardo Gambin; the case study of Northeastern Italians (Friulani) immigrants to British Columbia in the early 1900s; the analysis of the three voices of representation in Turcinovich Giuricin’s interview novel of Miriam, a Northeastern Italian Holocaust survivor in Toronto. Colussi Arthur has held numerous administrative positions both in Canada and in the U.S., at departmental and faculty levels, including Program Director of The Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies and Associate Dean—Curriculum. She holds the position of Past President of Italian-Canadian Archive Project (ICAP).
Janie Cooper-Wilson, Director, Wasaga Beach
Janie has had a life-long passion for history, researching and recording Black History as a crucial part of the collective history of Ontario. She is a strong advocate for the preservation of endangered historical buildings and early cemeteries, and spearheaded the intensive public relations initiative to preserve the 1849 Oro African Methodist Episcopal Church in Edgar, Ontario.
Janie is the founder and Executive Director of the SilverShoe Historical Society and was the driving force behind the restoration and designation of Bethel-Union and the Old Zion Presbyterian Cemeteries in Clearview Township. As well, with the assistance of her dedicated SilverShoe Team, Janie has facilitated the Annual Memorial Candlelight Service at Bethel-Union Pioneer Cemetery for the past two decades.
Over her long career, Janie has welcomed any opportunity that allows her to promote Black History, as part of the collective history of our Province, through her lectures designed for interested organizations, schools, and youth groups, and frequently facilitates Black History tours throughout Simcoe/Grey Counties. One of her greatest joys is assisting families in the process of researching long lost Black Ancestors. Janie has also been the author of numerous articles and publications and has been the recipient of many awards, such as the OHS Carnochan Award (2012), the OMAH Historic Reconstruction Award (2015), and the OBHS Harriet Tubman Award (2018). In September 2018, she was inducted as one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Women.
Jan Haskings-Winner, Director, Toronto
Jan Haskings-Winner, BA, B.Ed., M. Ed., has been a history teacher and history educator in Ontario and Malaysia. She is currently Principal of International St. Lucia, after retiring from teaching history (and other subjects) for 35 years.
She is Past President of OHASSTA (Ontario History and Social Sciences Teachers Association) and has authored history text books as well as worked on the Ontario curriculum. Jan teaches for Queen’s University in the Continuing Teacher Education program and taught History and Economics at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) for five years in the Pre-Service Teacher Education program.
Eric Payseur, Director, Ottawa
Eric Payseur received his PhD in History from York University in 2013. His thesis examined gender, generation and Polish-Canadian identity in Ontario in the context of multiculturalism as state policy.
During his time at York, Eric worked at the forefront of the movement to scale up urban agriculture at Toronto schools. Over the years, his research and teaching interests evolved to centre on food, agricultural and environmental history, in addition to migration.
In 2018-2019, Eric was Guest Curator of Brewing Changes Guelph, a public exhibition showcasing the importance of Guelph in resurrecting Ontario’s craft brewing traditions in the 1980s.
Eric is on the board of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, and currently works as the Organic Transition Manager for the Canadian Organic Growers.
Michael Dove, Director, London
Michael Dove, PhD, is an Associate Professor and the Director and Internship Coordinator of the MA and Minor programs in Public History at Western University. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for London’s Museum of Ontario Archaeology. A specialist in Canadian maritime, business, social and cultural history, his research and teaching interests include public history, early modern shipping, brewing, and pirates and piracy.
His work in public history has encompassed a wide range of topics pertaining to the history of Ontario. As a recipient of Western’s Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) Award for Excellence in Collaborative Teaching, he has worked with numerous local, provincial and national community organizations including The City of London, Southwestern Ontario Region Bicentennial 1812, Labatt Breweries of Canada and Western University Archives, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.
His profile can be viewed at: Faculty Profile.
Chief Dave Mowat, Director, Alderville First Nation
Dave Mowat has spent over 30 years working in various capacities at the First Nation level, in Winnipeg, Waabaseemoong, Scugog Island and Alderville. He served on the Alderville First Nation Band Council from 2007 to 2015 and was elected Chief of the community in 2019. His passion and focus remain researching and understanding the treaty, military, and settlement history of southern Ontario (Upper Canada).
He was educated in Peterborough, Ontario and later in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he relocated as a young man in the early 1980s, eventually attending the University of Manitoba.
As the great grandson of Alderville’s Fred Simpson, the 1908 Olympic marathon runner who placed 6th for Canada in that famous race in London, England, it is Simpson that became the window through which Dave has searched for a greater understanding of his Mississauga Nation. Since he was a young boy hearing the stories of Simpson’s heroic finish in the grueling Olympic Marathon his interest in history has never waned.
Dave is also a long-time blues musician/singer, having taken up the harmonica back in the early 1980s shortly after relocating to north end Winnipeg from southern Ontario. He still plays professionally in Toronto and south-central Ontario.
As a traditional wild rice harvester, he is a staunch defender of this aboriginal right across Alderville’s treaty areas. In the wake of the 2018 Williams Treaties Settlement Agreement Chief Dave Mowat’s main intent was and continues to be securing the settlement for the immediate and long-term viability of Alderville First Nation.
He currently sits on the Queens University Indigenous Elders Advisory Committee, the City of Kingston Sir John A MacDonald History and Legacy Working Group and works with the City of Kingston on the Alderville First Nation commemorative public art project (“Manidoo Ogitigan”) which was approved by City Council in 2017 for installation at Lake Ontario Park. Along with his wife Janet and their granddaughter Brooklyn, Dave lives in the home he built in Alderville (25 years ago), adjacent to his beloved Black Oak Savanna and Tallgrass Prairie, where he and Janet also raised their 3 children.
Mark Kuhlberg, Director, Sudbury
Mark was born and raised in Toronto, living first in apartments in Thorncliffe Park and then in North York. The son of an Estonian father and Portuguese mother, he learned very early to appreciate the value of Canada’s multicultural society. Unfortunately, it was also during his formative years that he developed his undying commitment to his hometown’s professional sports teams, particularly the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs, and lives in eternal hope that “this will be the year.”
At the age of 18, he began what would become a twenty-season odyssey in the treeplanting industry in northern Ontario. It provided a remarkable window into the activities that were occurring in the province’s – and the country’s – woodlands. Enamoured of his time in the bush, Mark began researching the history of our forests and myriad ways in which humans have interacted with them. This subject has served for practically three decades as the focus of his research.
Although Mark enjoyed most of the time he spent in the treeplanting industry, and it helped him pay for university, he realized that there must be easier ways to earn a living. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a BA History, he earned his MA and PhD in History from York University. Even before he had completed his doctorate, he had begun working as the historical researcher on several successful First Nation timber claims. He taught part-time at McMaster and Nipissing University before landing a full-time history position at Laurentian University in Sudbury roughly twenty years ago.
Over the last quarter century, Mark has published more than two dozen peer-reviewed articles and several books. His second one, In the Power of the Government: The Rise and Fall of Newsprint in Ontario, 1894-1932, earned several national history prizes, including the Canadian Business History Association’s inaugural award for best book. Several of his articles have appeared in Ontario History, including an award-winning piece he co-authored with one of his former MA students.
Mark has long been a fervent believer in community service. He sits on the local board that oversees forest management in the Sudbury area, and served eight years as a public councillor on the Ontario Professional Foresters Association. He served as a board member on the (American) Forest History Society, and was a founding member, a past chairperson, and is a current board member of the Forest History Society of Ontario. He also sits as a member of Ontario History’s Editorial Advisory Committee. Several years ago, he was asked and agreed to join the board of the Native People of Sudbury Development Corporation, which is responsible for providing affordable housing to First Nations in Sudbury.
Being active has always been an integral part of Mark’s life. He has been involved in reffing, coaching and playing hockey for nearly half a century, and his bike has served as his vehicle of choice for about half as long. The fact that he rides year-round to work in Sudbury helps explain why he continues to believe in Toronto’s sports teams.
His wonderful family rounds out his full life. Just seeing his wife and two kids every day reminds him what really matters in this world.
Rob Leverty, Ex-Officio | Executive Director, Toronto
Thorold Tronrud, Ex-Officio | Editor, Ontario History, Thunder Bay
|Executive Committee||Michel Beaulieu|
|Fundraising Committee||Gabriella Colussi Arthur|
|Honours & Awards Committee||Michael Dove and Eric Payseur|
|Indigenous Affairs Committee||Chief Dave Mowat|
|Museums and Affiliated Societies Committee||Kristin Ives and Allan Macdonell|
|Nominations Committee||Caroline Di Cocco|
|Preservation and Cemeteries Committee||Laura Suchan and Janie Cooper-Wilson|
OHS Past Presidents
This video is also available on the OHS YouTube channel here.
OHS Past Presidents Reflect on 125 Years
On November 4th, 2013, the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C. Onley held a reception at Queen’s Park to celebrate the 125th anniversary of The Ontario Historical Society. In attendance were students from Waterdown District High School’s Student Parliament, under the supervision of Nathan Tidridge, historical educator and friend of the OHS. During the celebrations, secondary student Joelle Easter interviewed Past Presidents of The Ontario Historical Society’s Board of Directors about their tenure with the OHS, and their reflections on the role and impact of the Society.
1. Download and Print the Nomination Form (word/.doc), and mail the completed form to:
The Ontario Historical Society
c/o OHS Nominating Committee
34 Parkview Avenue
Willowdale, ON M2N 3Y2