May Recap: Canadian History in the News

Canadian History in the News: The past is always a part of the present. This blog series looks at current events and stories that have a Canadian history element to them and I offer my opinion on the subject.

Sometimes I find news articles or stories that I think would be great to talk about on this blog—except for the fact that they are pretty short and therefore wouldn’t make for much of a blog post in themselves. Solution? I decided to pull a few together. Here are four recent Canadian history-based stories you may have missed:

A Chinese Man washing gold in B.C.’s Fraser River (c. 1875).
Source: Library and Archives Canada

The Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project
The gold rush is often viewed as the starting point of Chinese-Canadian history, but it actually stretches back to 1788 when the first Chinese immigrants arrived at Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. These 50 men (who were blacksmiths and carpenters) from Macao and Guangzhou had been recruited by a British fur trader named Captain John Meares.

Skip ahead to 2015, a Vancouver Island-based pilot project to digitize and archive historic artifacts of Chinese communities throughout British Columbia has been announced. The project has three main priorities…
(1) Provide access to thousands of items and documents—essentially centuries of Chinese-Canadian history online.
(2) Serve as a way for small BC museums to increase awareness about their facilities and collections.
(3) Act as part of an apology for past mistreatment of Chinese-Canadians by the government. (The project is funded through a $75,000 grant from the provincial government).

Further Reading: B.C.’s Chinese-Canadian history going digital.

New Condos Uncover Artefacts from Toronto’s Past
Near the intersection of Bathurst Street and Lake Shore Boulevard in Toronto, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 19th century wooden schooner. The vessle, whose remains only include the keel and the lower part of the hull, is estimated to be from America and dates back to the 1830s. 150 years ago that whole section used to be called Queen’s Wharf and it served as the docking area until 1917 when the wharf was buried underneath new urban developments.

Other recent archaeological finds in Toronto include a scandal-ridden home and foundations of former buildings. The Royal Ontario Museum even has an exhibition dedicated to Toronto Underfoot—complete with an interactive map online!

Further Reading: Condo dig unearths antique ship in Toronto Harbour.


Plates recovered from the wreck of one of Franklin’s ships on display at the HMS Erebus Revealed Exhibit.
Source: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press.

HMS Erebus Revealed Exhibit
Early last week, the Government of Canada unveiled new artefacts recently recovered from HMS Erebus—one of the two doomed ships from Captain Franklin’s ill-fated 1846 arctic voyage. Ceramic plates, tunic buttons from the jackets of the Royal Marines, a medicinal bottle, glassware, and one of the ship’s two six-pounder cannons are among dozens of artifacts recovered from the wreck. The HMS Erebus Revealed Exhibit is on at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

Still curious as to whether the archaeologists will be able to uncover what happened to poor ol’ John.

Further Reading: Harper Government Unveils Pieces of History from HMS Erebus.

PM Harper watches a parade in Wageningen, Netherlands.

You probably didn’t miss this story and I know I wrote about this event recently, but I still felt I should include it here.

Prime Minister Harper and the surviving veterans of the Liberation of the Netherlands paid tribute to those who never made it home at a ceremony held on May 4, 2015. The commemoration was held in the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, where 1350 fallen Canadian soldiers rest. In his speech, Harper spoke about how each headstone was a stark reminder that “doing the right thing often comes at a great cost, but a cost that must be paid.” Like other German-occupied countries, the Netherlands suffer greatly during World War II and the liberation, spearheaded by Canadian forces, brought not only freedom but much needed food and supplies for the starving and ailing Dutch population. As such, Canadians are fondly remembered by the Dutch.

So, you know, if you’re a Canadian who would like a European vacation, Netherlands would probably be an A+ place to go. 😛

Further Reading: Stephen Harper joins Canadian WW2 veterans to mark liberation of Netherlands.

Any other recent Canadian history stories that caught your eye over the past month?

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