A love for hockey & history

A big hockey fan himself, Tim Winegard met his wife Becky at a hockey game he was attending in Washington, D.C.


A big hockey fan himself, Tim Winegard met his wife Becky at a hockey game he was attending in Washington, D.C.

A Canadian from southern Ontario, Tim Winegard is a Detroit Red Wings fan and plays hockey himself.


A Canadian from southern Ontario, Tim Winegard is a Detroit Red Wings fan and plays hockey himself.


‘The Indiana Jones of history’

“He is sort of like the Indiana Jones of history, said Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer about Tim Winegard. “His approach to research often puts him in difficult situations.

“He spent time in some the most dangerous parts of Soweto, South Africa, while researching his doctoral dissertation. He camped by himself for days on a remote lake in British Columbia as part of a test by a native community to determine whether he was worthy of working with them.

“He spent time in the outback of Australia, eating all sorts of strange things, with Australian aborigines. He traveled alone across northern China and into Mongolia.

“Adventure seems to seek him out.”

Just because he hasn’t been working since he moved to Grand Junction last November, it wouldn’t be fair to accuse Tim Winegard of skating.

Except for the fact that he actually has been skating, as often as possible, engaging in his sports passion: hockey.

Winegard, 34, is Canadian, a native of Sarnia, Ontario, a city similar in size to Grand Junction, just east of Detroit, Mich. And, while he’s enthusiastic about hockey, he’s also passionate about history — particularly military history and that involving indigenous people.

In Canada, Winegard taught First Nations Studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and history at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario. (Canada uses the term “First Nations” to refer to its various Indian and Inuit groups).

Winegard, who earned his doctorate degree at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, is also the author of three books on history related to Canada’s indigenous people, two of them about First Nations’ involvement in the Canadian military during World War I.

Winegard hopes to obtain a teaching position with Colorado Mesa University — and perhaps coach hockey — once he receives appropriate work documents through the State Department. He has had preliminary discussions with officials at CMU.

But hockey and history aren’t the only things he’s passionate about. There is also his wife, Becky, the reason he left Canada for Colorado.

Winegard met Mesa County native Becky Raney in December 2010 at a Washington Capitals hockey match when they both were visiting Washington, D.C. They happened to sit next to each other, and a rink-side conversation turned into a long-distance courtship and then a wedding last Nov. 3.

“Tim insists there is no such thing as fate, but I saw fate working that night,” said Whitney Lackenbauer, Winegard’s friend and colleague at the University of Waterloo. “There were clearly sparks between the two of them.”

Winegard, who had visited Grand Junction several times before the wedding, moved here to be with Becky and to be stepfather to her 2-year-old son, Jaxson. Becky is the marketing and outreach coordinator for Girls on the Run of Western Colorado, a nonprofit that works to encourage fitness and self-confidence in young girls.

Although he cannot work in this country until his State Department documents are approved, Winegard is continuing to conduct research for several projects. He has started writing on what he hopes will be his fourth book, about an expedition called Dunsterforce, a narrative of a daring and difficult mission undertaken by British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces at the end of World War I.

Discuss military history with Winegard and you’ll soon learn he is a storehouse of knowledge, not just regarding Canadian military events, but those involving the United States, Great Britain, the British Commonwealth and many other nations.

And he can offer insight to confrontations between native people and European invaders that occurred all over the globe. Winegard’s interest in both the military and native people comes from his family and his personal experience.

“My grandmother was born on the Moravian on Thames Indian Reserve in Ontario and she grew up on the Six Nations Reserve just south of Toronto, the largest Indian reserve in Canada,” Winegard said. “She was from mixed European and native blood,” with Mohawk her dominant Indian ancestry.

Winegard himself grew up near two First Nations reserves. “I spent a lot of time playing hockey with native friends,” he said.

Winegard’s knowledge of the military was sharpened by his nine years in the Canadian Army, including two years spent in the Balkans with the British Army. He completed his military service in 2010 with the rank of captain.

But his interest in military began long before then, fired by his family history.

“My great-great grandfather served in the Boer War and in World War I, and my great grandfather served in World War I and World War II,” he said. “He was alive until I was 11, and he told me stories about his experience.”

Those stories included the fact that his great-grandfather enlisted before he was legally old enough to do so; he got shot and gassed in 1916; he was released from the Army, but then joined the Canadian Navy. “He got malaria and typhoid off of Ivory Coast,” Winegard said.

World War I is fascinating in part because it was so senseless, he said.

“The Second World War sort of makes sense” because it was aimed at stopping Nazi fascism and Japanese aggression in Asia. But the First World War, ignited by an assassination in a small country, with few clear initial goals on either side, and marked by appalling brutality, Winegard said, is “unfathomable.”

“On the first day of the Battle of Somme, the British Empire suffered 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 dead,” he said. “And that doesn’t include German losses.”

Even so, Canadians performed heroically during the war. “Canadian forces were spearheads” in many of the campaigns and battles, he said.

Moreover, he said, “First Nations were enthusiastic supporters because of treaties they had signed with Queen Victoria.” Indians were denied the right to enlist initially, although many did anyway after the war began in 1914. By mid-1915, when the British realized more soldiers would be needed, Indians from Canada were allowed to enlist and were soon actively recruited.

Thousands served honorably and many won medals for bravery. Returning veterans hoped their service would improve their lot, as well as that of their families and First Nation groups, but Winegard’s books make it clear that didn’t occur. Few received the same sort of veterans benefits that white soldiers did, and many had part of their lands taken away from them to give to white veterans. First Nations were not given the right to vote as a group until 1960.

“Tim really set a whole new standard for how we understand aboriginal people and the First World War,” Lackenbauer said. “He’s also not afraid to tackle some very provocative topics.”

“Tim has wide-ranging, extensive knowledge of military campaigns all over the world,” he added. “The other piece is that here is a person who served nearly a decade in the military, including in war zones. That gives him an ability to empathize with others who have served, and evoke battlefield situations.”

Furthermore, Winegard is genuine, and everyone from First Nation community leaders to college students quickly recognize that quality, Lackenbauer said.

Winegard’s research and writing, the stories he offers and his ability to energize a classroom full of students make him an exceptional college instructor, Lackenbauer said.

Winegard’s published books are available on Amazon.com, or through their publishers. They are:

“OKA: A Convergence of Cultures and the Canadian Forces.” Kingston: Canadian Defence Academy (CDA) Press, 2008.

“Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

“For King and Kanata: Canadian Indians and the First World War.” Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2012.

Read more about Winegard at his website: http://www.timothycwinegard.com

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