Dr. Olaf U. Janzen

B.A. (McMaster), M.A., Ph.D. (Queen's); F.R.Hist.S.                            olaf.jpg (13973 bytes)
Professor Emeritus, Historical Studies program
School of Arts and Social Sciences

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University
Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Canada A2H 5G4

Status: Professor Emeritus
(709) 634-2124

E-Mail:   olaf@grenfell.mun.ca

Other affiliations:

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
International Maritime History Association
Navy Records Society
Canadian Nautical Research Society
Newfoundland Historical Society
Society for Nautical Research

Research Interests

My doctoral dissertation, together with my appointment to Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, on the west coast of Newfoundland, drew me into research on the early eighteenth-century settlement history of western Newfoundland, both by French and Irish fishermen as well as by Mi'kmaq people from Cape Breton Island. I have acquired expertise on the defence of Newfoundland during the eighteenth century, with particular attention to the problems of piracy and privateering. During my working career, my research received financial support from the Vice-President's Research Fund of Memorial University, the SSHRCC, and the Institute of Economic and Social Research (ISER) at Memorial University. A steady output of publications ensued from all of this research, most of which were first presented as papers at both national and international conferences. I was a frequent contributor to the review pages of a number of scholarly journals and publications. Now that I have retired, I continue to work on various aspects of eighteenth-century Newfoundland history, but I do so from home.

More Specifically:

I taught North Atlantic, Military, and Newfoundland history. My research specialty is eighteenth-century Newfoundland, working on settlement history, piracy, privateering, and the defence of Newfoundland during that period. My most recent research projects have included an investigation into the peace-time activities of the ships of the Royal Navy that were stationed in Newfoundland during the years following the conclusion of the Seven Years' War in 1763, as well as the cartographic service of James Cook in Newfoundland between 1762 and 1767.

I have been a regular participant at national and international scholarly conferences. I published frequently in academic journals, and I reviewed extensively for a variety of publications. I have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and was made Professor Emeritus by Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2018. I belong to several regional, national, and international professional organizations. I served for many years as the Reviews Editor of  two academic journals dedicated to the promotion of maritime history: The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du nord (the refereed quarterly of the Canadian Nautical Research Society) for nearly ten years, followed by more then a decade's service with the International Journal of Maritime History (the refereed publication of the International Maritime Economic History Association). I continue to serve on the Editorial Board of the CNRS.

Papers Recently Presented

2016 - "The Making of a Maritime Explorer: James Cook in Newfoundland, 1762-1767,” Seventh International Congress of Maritime History, Perth/Fremantle, Australia, 27 June - 1 July

2015 - “Eric Cobham: The Pirate Who Never Was?”, the annual George Story Lecture of the Newfoundland Historical Society, St. John’s, NL, 30 April. The Story lecture is by invitation of the Society and is reserved for scholars who have made sustained contributions to NL scholarship.

2012 - "The French Seizure of St. John’s in 1762, the British Response, and James Cook," Newfoundland Historical Society Symposium on "James Cook in Newfoundland," St. John’s, NL, 28-29 September

2012 - "The Logic of English Saltcod: An Historiographical Revision," Sixth International Congress of Maritime History, Ghent, Belgium, 2-6 July

2007 - "The Royal Navy and the Interdiction of Aboriginal Migration to Newfoundland, 1763-1766," 2007 Naval History Symposium, Annapolis, MD, September

2004 - “The Navy and the Natives: The Royal Navy and the Attempt to Interdict Aboriginal Migration to Newfoundland, 1763-1766,” Fourth International Congress of Maritime History, Corfu, Greece, June

Recent Publications

"The Making of A Maritime Explorer: James Cook in Newfoundland, 1762-1767,” The Northern Mariner / Le Marin du nord XXVIII: 1 (Winter / Hiver 2018): 23-38

"Eric Cobham: The Pirate Who Never Was?”, in “Aspects” [of] The Newfoundland Historical Society, The Newfoundland Quarterly CVIII: 2 (Fall 2015): 44-52

Organizer, "Finding Aid to the Colonial Office 194 Series" (on-going)

Organizer, "Finding Aid to the Colonial Secretary's Letterbook" (on-going)

Compiler, "A Reader's Guide to Newfoundland History to 1869" (on-going)

Eighteenth-Century Newfoundland in War and Peace (“Research in Maritime History,” No. 52; St. John’s, NL: International Maritime Economic History Association, 2013)

"The Logic of English Saltcod: An Historiographical Revision,"  The Northern Mariner / Le marin du nord XXIII: 2 (April 2013): 123-134 

Chapt. 3, "The 'Long' Eighteenth Century, 1697-1815," in Newfoundland Historical Society, A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's: Boulder Publications for the Newfoundland Historical Society, 2008), pp. 49-76

"The Royal Navy and the Interdiction of Aboriginal Migration to Newfoundland, 1763-1766," International Journal of Naval History VII: 2 (August 2008) [e-journal:

Personal Interests

My wife Ellen and my two children, Elizabeth (who earned a DMA at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and is now on faculty with the School of Music at the Kingsville campus of Texas A&M University) and David (who has completed a Master of Arts degree in Political Science, specializing in security studies, at Carleton University, and now works in Ottawa for the federal government as a policy analyst), are a very important part of my life; I only wish I had more time to spend with them. I enjoy reading science fiction (I subscribed to Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact for over thirty years) as well as historical fiction (I'm a fan of Patrick O'Brian). Though I am now retired from Memorial University, I remain partial to good food, fine wine, and the occasional glass of the Bowmore 15 Year Old 'Darkest' malt whisky. ("Moderation sir, aye, moderation is my rule. Nine or ten is reasonable refreshment, but after that it's apt to degenerate into drinking.")

last updated: August 26, 2021