Heather teaches at the University of Waterloo, specializing in Canadian history and the history of medicine, public health and health policy. Since publishing Activists & Advocates: Toronto’s Health Department, 1883-1983 (Toronto, 1990), she has continued to research the history of Canadian efforts to control the 1918 flu pandemic and to compare that event with SARS and avian flu. The former director of the MA program in Public History, she has also served at the acting chair of the History Department (1996, 2013) and twice as Associate Dean of Arts for Graduate Studies and Research (1992-1994, 2000-2005). A longstanding member of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine, she served as its Vice-President (2001-2003), President (2003-2005), and Past President (2005-2007).
Her current research project is focused on a multi-volume history of the origins and evolution of Canadian medicare. This has evolved from a study conducted for the Canadian Museum of Civilization which has resulted in a web-based project called “Making Canadian Medicare-Healthcare in Canada, 1914-2007.” This site contains 300 web pages of historical information, photos, and vingettes explaining key people, events and financial and political terms. Available in both French and English, the site is designed for the public and for students and teachers. It received an honourable mention for the inaugural Public History Proze competition held by the Canadian Historical Association in 2011.
In addition, Heather is collaborating with Professor Laurence Monnais of the Université de Montréal on a longitudinal study of the contested adoption of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in Ontario and Quebec from its introduction in 1963 to the present. They are working with public health agencies in both our provinces to determine which historical factors have influenced public support, opposition and ambivalence to immunization campaigns and the extent to which such factors are still important in our wired world.