Vimy Ridge Resource Post

Canadian soldiers returning from Vimy Ridge (c. April 1917). [Source] – This is a colourized version of arguably the most famous photo from the battle. Click here for the original.

100 years ago today, for the first time the Canadian Corps’ four divisions came together on the battlefield. The Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 1917) was fought over what historian Tim Cook describes as an “open graveyard,” as it was the sight of over 100,000 previous French casualties. Over the course of four days, the Canadians Corps succeeded where earlier Allied assaults had failed. They overtook the heavily-fortified, seven-kilometre ridge and pushed the Germans back to the Oppy–Méricourt line. In the process, 3,598 Canadians were killed and another 7,004 were wounded. Years later, Vimy Ridge would be seen as Canada’s most important battle of World War One.

I have mostly avoided talking about Vimy Ridge because it is the most heavily discussed, analyzed, and mythologized battle in Canadian history. After all, what is there to add when even the debate over whether Vimy was “the birth of a nation” appears to have come full circle? Nevertheless, to honour the occasion, I created a massive resource post full of information, resources, pictures, videos, art, for all those interested in the battle and the legacy of Vimy Ridge.
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Canadian History in the News: Fall 2016 Edition

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.

Game of Furs

Sometimes I come across 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 by themselves. Solution? Every now and then I pull a few together. In this late fall edition we have a follow up to a Spring 2016 story, a new television show loosely based on the fur trade era, and an update on the discovery of the HMS Terror. Continue reading

The 60s Scoop: How Did It Happen?

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.

60sscoop

The sign above pretty much sums up what the “60s Scoop” was. First coined by Patrick Johnston in his 1983 report, Native Children and the Child Welfare System, the term refers to the period in which thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children across Canada were taken from their homes by provincial welfare workers. These children were then fostered or adopted by non-Indigenous families both in Canada and abroad. The 1960s is when the majority of the adoptions happened, but this practice went on until the mid-1980s. How on earth did something like this happen? What is going on today in regards to the 60s Scoop? And what happened to all of those children? Continue reading

Canada’s Olympic History: Summer Edition

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.

Penny Oleksiak holds up the four medals that she has won over the course of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Canadian Olympic Committee have not announced it yet, but Oleksiak is widely expected to be Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremony on Sunday. [Source]

If you have been following the Rio 2016 Olympics, you will know that sixteen year old Penny Oleksiak now holds a unique spot in Canadian Olympic history as she is the first Canadian to win four medals in a single Summer Games. Also, the gold medal she is holding makes her Canada’s youngest Olympic champion. So far Canadian athletes have won 13 medals* in total during the 2016 Olympics. Yesterday marked the end of our nine-day medal streak, the longest of any Summer or Winter Games. Hearing about the achievements of our athletes in Rio got me thinking about our past performances in the Olympics. Here is a look back at some of the best (and worst) moments from Canada’s history at the Summer Games.

* Update – Canada finished the Rio Olympics with 22 medals in total; 4 golds, 3 silvers, and 15 bronze medals. Continue reading

Canadian History in the News: Spring 2016 Edition

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.

Excavation of a possible new viking site in Newfoundland. Source: National Geographic.

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 by themselves. Solution? I decided to pull a few together. Here are three recent Canadian history-based stories that are worth nothing: Continue reading

The History of O Canada

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.

On Wednesday, January 27th history was made in the House of Commons by Liberal Member of Parliament, Mauril Bélanger. Recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Bélanger used a text-to-speech program on his iPad to introduce his private member’s bill as he has lost his voice. This is the first time a speech has been delivered electronically in the House. So what was that bill about? Oh, it was an appeal to make Canada’s national anthem gender-netural.

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Busting Out of a WW1 German Prison Camp

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.

Maj. Pete Anderson, his wife, Mary, and their children. Anderson is believed to be the only Canadian officer to escape from a German prison camp during the First World War. Provincial Archives of Alberta. [Source]

During the First World War, 3,842 Canadians were taken prisoner by enemy armies. Most made it home post-war, however scores died from pneumonia, typhus, and starvation due to the poor conditions and limited resources within the prison camps. Of these POWs only one man, Major Peter Anderson, managed to escape. The Edmonton Journal detailed his story earlier this month. This guy was a boss. Not only did Anderson bust out of the camp, he successfully travelled across Germany to get to safety in Denmark despite encountering German officials along the way. He also did all this while wearing his officer uniform. If that’s not enough after he got back to England, Anderson wrote a smug letter to the prison camp officers and then went right back to fighting for the Canadian Forces. So who was this guy and how exactly did pull off his great escape?

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The Top 5 Canadian Political Attack Ads

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.

Now for part two of our exploration of historical negative campaigning from Canadian federal politics. Last week was attack posters, this week television attack ads. The top five most memorable Canadian attack ads to be more specific.

Historians trace the start of televised political attack ads to the “Daisy Girl” commercial that aired during the Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater 1964 election campaign. The ad shows a little girl counting the petals she plucks off a daisy. Then an atomic bomb goes off. An ominous voice-over by LBJ follows, “We must either love each other or we must die,” and then the ad ends telling viewers to vote for him. The ad ran just once, (you can imagine just how horrified 1960s audiences were), but it changed the political game forever. Now, our politicians have yet to include nuclear annihilation in their attacks, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t come up with some seriously ridiculous ads. Continue reading

A Mixed Past: Canada and Refugees

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.

Jewish women refugees aboard the M.S. St. Louis (May 1939).

Hello everyone! Thank you for all the well wishes in my going away post. I had the most wonderful time in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Now back to business——The Migrant Crisis (unsurprisingly) dominates European news channels. When I came home, I found that coverage of the crisis had picked up here while I was gone. If you pay attention to the rhetoric of those who are critical of the government’s response to the situation, you will notice that they often use Canadian history to further their argument. These historical citations are always mentioned in passing though and never really discussed. Now there are many, many examples of Canada being both welcoming and unwelcoming to refugees. After all, with a definition like this…

Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

…it should be no surprise that refugees have been coming to Canada for centuries. For the sake of brevity however, this post will focus on Canadian efforts from the Second World War onwards and look at three periods that critics reference with regards to today’s crisis. Continue reading

Mother Canada: What’s the Big Deal?

Update (Feb 5, 2016) – Parks Canada Pulls Support for Mother Canada Monument

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.

Artist’s rendition of the proposed Mother Canada statue. Click for a larger image. [Source]

Have you heard about the recent Mother Canada controversy yet?

Long story made short: The Conservative government wants to spend 25 million dollars to construct an 8-storey statue of a sad, veiled woman with her arms stretched out towards Europe on the eastern edge of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Some people are for it, others are completely against it. A quick Google search will reveal tons of news reports and editorials exploring the proposal from every perspective. With all the different opinions surrounding the issue, I decided to make things easy and break it all down for you here. Continue reading