Internship Spotlight: Nathan Manhas

My name is Nathan Manhas and I am entering my fourth year as an undergraduate student at McGill University. I am majoring in History and International Development Studies, and this summer I gained the opportunity to intern with the 78th Fraser Highlanders. This British infantry regiment was raised in Scotland in 1757 to fight in the North American theatre of Seven Years’ War. Despite the constricting circumstances as a result of COVID-19, I have been able to complete my duties of research and archival work safely and with the utmost support from both the Frasers and McGill’s Faculty of Arts Internship Office. My studies within the Department of History have been concentrated in Canadian and American history, with a particular focus on the colonial period through the 19th century. My interest was thus easily grasped by Professor Don Nerbas’ course “Themes in Canadian History: The Scots in Northern North America” during the previous winter semester. I was aware of a Scottish presence in Canada’s history, but this course grew my appreciation for this fact into a greater understanding for the truly expansive and deep impact Scots have had on the development of Canada as a nation. Once I became aware of the internship with the Fraser through the Arts Internship Office, I knew I had to apply.

From the overarching narratives of the Highlanders’ intellectual, military, and political heritage in Canada and North America, to the personal accounts and anecdotes, this summer I have absorbed a breadth of unique and varied historical knowledge. With the help of Bruce Bolton and the 78th Frasers office, I was able to work with fantastic materials and documents, both primary and secondary in nature. I thoroughly enjoyed researching the descendants of the original regiment and helping piece together the large web of materials dating from the 1740s to the current day in an attempt to create a more complete and expansive picture of the Frasers’ influence in Canada. Despite working remotely, I was able to interact with physical collections delivered from the regiment’s headquarters at Maison Louis-Joseph Forget, thanks to the generous help of Bruce Bolton.

My internship experience helped me gain a new level of flexibility and problem-solving skills due to the abrupt changes of COVID-19 restrictions, but also the number of varied materials and documents I had to work through. I plan to attend a Masters of Arts program in the future, and I will bring with me both the practical analytical skills and adaptability I strengthened working with the 78th Fraser Highlanders into my graduate studies. I have a much greater confidence in my ability to craft together a historically informed narrative from a number of different individual sources. These are valuable skills I will carry with me in both my academic and professional futures.

I was a recipient of a Faculty of Arts Internship Award, supported by the Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University. With the generous aid from this award, I was able to fully focus and commit to quality research and work throughout the summer, despite the unique constraints that 2020 has presented. Support from both the Arts Undergraduate Society and the McGill Faculty of Arts Internship Office made this challenging and unexpected summer manageable. I cannot thank both the Undergraduate Society and Internship Office enough for their aid throughout the spring and into the end of this summer. I have emerged from this summer a better researcher, more knowledgeable in my field of interest, and with a better sense of how family stories shape larger public histories.

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