I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, in July 1977, of Dutch, English and First Nations decent, while my Dad was attending medical school, and grew up in Sarnia, Ontario. As a child I was exposed, by my parents, to numerous activities including the piano, guitar, literature, art, and numerous sports, most notably hockey. In 1994, I was drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Detroit Jr. Red Wings (now Plymouth Whalers) and still maintain a love for our game. My family also travelled extensively throughout North America and Europe during my youth. I attended St. Patrick’s Secondary School in Sarnia and gained a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Western Ontario in 1998. The following year I received a B.Ed. in History and English from Nipissing University. After teaching at the secondary school level for four years, I returned to academics, gaining a B.A. Hons. in History from the University of Guelph in 2004 and an M.A. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2006. I received a DPhil. (under the direction of Prof. Hew Strachan) from the University of Oxford, St. Antony’s College, in January 2010.
From a very young age I was enthralled with history and the study of war. This was a natural fascination given the past military service of my kin. My Great-Great Grandfather, Charles Yaxley, fought in both the Boer War and the First World War. My Great Grandfather, William Winegard, served in both World Wars and his son, my Grandfather, William Winegard, in the Second World War. My Grandmother, Elizabeth, worked in a shell factory in Toronto during the Second World War. I also have extended family members who served in Korea, Vietnam and the 1st Gulf War. Accordingly, I served with the 1st Hussars Regiment of the Canadian Forces Reserves as an officer from 2001 to 2010, including a two-year attachment to the British Army.
I love Canadiana and, like most Canadians, have personal connections to the history of our country. My Great (x4) Grandfather, William Steeves, was a Father of Confederation; my Mom and her family immigrated from the Netherlands in 1952; my Great-Grandfather, William, was the Reeve of Caledonia; my Grandfather, William, was a Cabinet Minister in the Mulroney administration and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. I am also related to my namesake, Tim Horton, although, regrettably, I do not get free coffee or donuts! I still “Roll up the Rim” like everyone else. All of these personalities and experiences have shaped my interest in the history and culture of Canada (and certainly my name, Timothy Charles William, serves as a constant reminder).
My interest in Indigenous peoples also developed at a young age. My Grandmother was born at Moravian of the Thames and was raised at the Six Nations of the Grand River. In addition, growing up in Sarnia, I spent considerable time with friends on the surrounding Anishinaabeg communities of Sarnia-Aamjiwnaang and Kettle Point.
I have been blessed with having a fantastic family. My parents Charles and Marian gave me a wonderful childhood and have been supportive of all my decisions and encourage me to follow my passions. They were, and unquestionably remain, my heroes. My older sisters Casey and Kelly, and my brothers-in-law Tom and Whitter, are also amazing people, as are my niece and nephews: Madison, Mason, Tanner, Dawson, Calder and Kessler. It is a blessing that we all come from the bedroom community of Bright’s Grove on Lake Huron—yes, the hometown of golfer Mike Weir! (and also the site of Canada’s first commune established in 1829 as “Maxwell” by Henry Jones).
I recently married an amazing girl, Becky Raney, from Grand Junction, Colorado. Accordingly, I have, as of November 2011, moved to Grand Junction to be with my wife and Jaxson, who at two-and-a-half years old is an absolute joy! They are the best things that have ever happened to me.
Aside from my academic career and family life, I enjoy playing hockey, the guitar, fishing, cooking and travelling across the globe for both research and pleasure. Admittedly, I am a small-town boy and to quote Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Brandt, “The best things around that I have ever seen, came from small towns and big dreams.”