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McLaughlin Takes Viewers Beyond Tradition in Documentary

McLaughlin Takes Viewers Beyond Tradition in Documentary

Date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ken McLaughlin (BA ’65), a St. Jerome’s University Department of History distinguished professor emeritus and the University of Waterloo’s (UW) official historian, has spent a lifetime documenting and preserving Waterloo’s history. McLaughlin adds on-screen narrator to a long list of credits with the recent release of the University of Waterloo’s Beyond Tradition, an 11-minute documentary capturing the university’s unique history.


In Beyond Tradition McLaughlin narrates viewers through time, highlighting the University of Waterloo’s (UW) progressive beginnings. The film serves as a reminder of some of Waterloo’s most historic legacies, including the introduction of co-operative education, early entrepreneurial ventures that led to revolutionary spinoff companies, and the integration of computer technology in the post-secondary world. The film was part of a collaborative project between McLaughlin; Sandbox - La Boîte à Films; Chris McCorkindale and Sue Breen (McCorkindale Advertising & Design); UW Faculty communicators; Nick Richbell and Sue Plouffe (University of Waterloo Special Collections & Archives); UW’s Offices of Advancement, Commercialization, and Research; Velocity; and the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre. It is available on YouTube and on the University of Waterloo’s website.


McLaughlin’s own history is interwoven with St. Jerome’s University. His post-secondary story began at St. Jerome’s, where he received his BA in History in 1965. He followed with an MA in History (Dalhousie University), and a PhD in History (University of Toronto), before returning to Waterloo in 1970. As a professor at St. Jerome’s in the Department of History, he served as Chair of that Department (1975 -1989); Acting Assistant Dean (1978); Assistant Dean (1987-1989); Vice-President and Academic Dean (1989-1995);  and also the Director of Public History and Director of the Tri-University (Waterloo, Laurier, and Guelph) Graduate program. He was appointed to serve on the Appraisal Committee of the Ontario Council for Graduate Studies and has served on numerous provincial, national, and international boards and committees.


Among his achievements, McLaughlin has written books and scholarly articles, has made presentations, and has been awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Certificate of Merit; the Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History; and the 1998 Special Recognition Award from the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation. Enthusiasm for the Truth: An Illustrated History of St. Jerome's University (2002), is among McLaughlin’s published works, which he co-authored with Gerald Stortz and James Wahl.


In 2008 McLaughlin retired, but consistent with his life’s work, his interest in sharing history did not. In 2019 St. Jerome’s University’s Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism held a book launch event celebrating the release of McLaughlin’s book, Race, Religion and Politics: The Election of 1896 in Canada.