17 Montrealers have been awarded the Ordre de Montréal insignia for 2024. Discover them!

Joanne Burgess


Joanne Burgess is a passionate and prolific professor, researcher and historian who has made her mark on the Québec scientific and cultural scene through her research on the history and heritage of Montréal.

A specialist in industrialization and labour in the 19th and 20th century Québec and Canada, Burgess is the director of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) History and Heritage Lab, which she founded in 2006. She was also the director of the Institut du patrimoine from 2010 to 2016, coordinating many fundamental and applied research studies, for which she received funding of over $6.5 million.

She has been a history professor at UQAM since 1981. Her areas of specialty are Montréal’s industrial and commercial expansion from 1840 to 1960 and the profound transformation of Montréal society triggered by industrialization. Her work on port activities, Old Montréal, the development of the food industry and worker culture showcases Montréal’s heritage and especially the popular history of the city.  

Over the years, Burgess has developed several partnerships, with both museum and cultural institutions and community organizations, allowing her to set up exhibits such as Run de lait and Le Plateau de Michel Tremblay. The Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex, the Écomusée du fier monde, the McCord Museum, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec are long-standing collaborators.

In addition to being the driving force behind traditional presentations and exhibits, Joanne Burgess has also adopted digital technologies, such as 3 and 4D modelling and interactive geolocation of historical data. This approach has greatly benefited the collections in Montréal’s museums and helped develop the digital competencies of young researchers. It has also given elementary and high school students access to simplified scientific documents.

Joanne Burgess and her collaborators have received many honours for their various projects, including the Governor-General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums, in 2011, and the Silver Web’Art Award from the International Audiovisual Festival on Museums and Heritage (FIAMP), in 2012. In 2015, she also received the André-Laurendeau award from the Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas), for the excellence and influence of her work and actions in the humanities.

In 2016, Joanne Burgess was appointed to the Université du Québec Cercle d’excellence, and Universities Canada considers her to be “one of 14 Innovators to Know”.

The picture and biographical information appearing on this page were current at the time this person was admitted to the Ordre de Montréal.