Jim earned his BA (Hons) from the University of Winnipeg and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. Since arriving at UND he has developed a series of courses in Canadian, Canadian-US, British, and British Imperial History. He has also been heavily involved in the creation of the Canadian Studies Program at UND. Related to his work in northern and western Canada Jim has also developed a strong interest in First Nations history on both sides of the Canada-US border and worked closely with UND’s Department of Indian Studies - now part of the Department of History and American Indian Studies.
Recognized as UND's Outstanding Graduate Teacher in 1998, as UND’s Outstanding Faculty Scholar in 2011 and then named a "Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor" in 2013, Jim has also been the recipient of Margaret McWilliams Awards from the Manitoba Historical Society (2001, 2005, and 2020) for books he has written. In his various publications Jim has explored the history of northern development in Canada and the social, ethnic, political, and labor history of western Canada. His book-length publications include, The People’s Co-op: The Life and Times of a North End Institution (Halifax: 2000); “Formidable Heritage:” Manitoba’s North and the Cost of Development, 1870 to 1930 (Winnipeg: 2004); Re-Imagining Ukrainian-Canadians: History, Politics and Identity (Toronto: 2011), a collection of essays co-edited with Rhonda Hinther; and Civilian Internment in Canada: History and Legacies (Winnipeg:2020), another collection of essays co-edited with Rhonda Hinther of Brandon University. Most recently he has published yet another edited volume (with Rhonda Hinther and James Naylor, both of Brandon University) on the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 and the larger "workers' revolt" in Canada and the United States, entitled For a Better World: The Winnipeg General Strike and the Workers’ Revolt. Published by the University of Manitoba Press in 2022, this work was shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, 2023. Jim is currently working on a book-length study (projected as two volumes) concerning the social and economic history of Winnipeg – and its many real and imagined communities - in the inter-war period. He is also engaged in two other major projects: a book-length examination of the development of Winnipeg’s “oppositional consciousness” from the 1870s onwards and an in-depth study of western Canada's premier child-care institution, the Children's Home of Winnipeg.
In addition to his research and teaching work, Jim has dedicated much of his time to shared governance at UND, having served as Chair of his department, Chair of the university senate, Co-Chair of UND's Strategic Planning committee, and serving on a wide variety of university committees.