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Gerald Friesen was born on 24 September 1943 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He graduated with a B.A. (Honors) in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 1965 . He received his M.A. from the University of Toronto in 1966 and Ph.D. in 1974. He began teaching at the University of Manitoba during the fall of 1970. In 1976, he was the recipient of the Dr. and Mrs. H.H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching. Friesen is the author of several books including A Guide to the Study of Manitoba Local history with Barry Potyondi published in 1981 by the University of Manitoba Press for the Manitoba Historical Society. The Canadian Prairies, a History, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 1984. In 1996, he wrote River Road: Essays on Manitoba and Prairie History. In 1999, Penguin Books published The West: Regional Ambitions, National Debates, Global Age. The following year, Citizen and Nation: Essays in History, Communication and Canada, was published by the University of Toronto Press. Friesen has worked as a consultant on history projects sponsored by the National Museum of Canada, The National Film Board and contributed to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television series Canada: A People's History. He advised local high schools with the Time Links Project, a virtual website depicting early Winnipeg. He has been a board member of the Manitoba Labour Education Committee. Dr. Friesen remains an active member of the History Department of the University of Manitoba.