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

Veterans’ Stories: Morkin and Strachan


Lt. Harcus Strachan, Fort Garry Horse, Dec 1917. Photo digitally colourized by Canadian Colour. Would you be able to charge towards machine gun fire on a horse with a sword as your only weapon like Strachan did?

On November 11th every year, we honour the millions of Canadians who have fought, served, and died in for their country over the past century. However, most stories don’t get told. Many acts of bravery and sacrifice are forgotten. That’s why for Remembrance Day this year I thought I would changes things up and share two veterans’ stories: Martha Morkin, a Nursing Sister from World War I and Harcus Strachan, a veteran of both world wars and a Victoria Cross recipient. Although (spoiler alert) both survived, their experiences exemplify the horrors of war and why working towards maintaining peace is never a fool’s cause. Continue reading

The Seven Years War: Causes and Perspectives

This post is the first installment of my seven-part series on the Seven Years’ War.
Interested in more? The second installment looks at the Acadian Expulsion.Map of the Belligerents and Areas of Conflict During the Seven Years’ War [Source]

When the Seven Years’ War  (1754-1763) broke out in the Ohio River Valley, guess how many people were surprised? Somewhere in the range of…zero. Also known as the French and Indian War, the conflict was the culmination of over a century’s worth of fighting between Britain and France over North American supremacy. Two years later, the conflict made its way across the Atlantic. As a result, the Seven Years’ War was essentially two simultaneous conflicts, that extended across five continents, with the British and French Empires at the center. This has led some to label it as the first “real” world war, but that is debatable. Ultimately, the Seven Years’ War was a watershed event in history but before we get to all that, we have to start at the beginning. This post will look at the major and immediate causes of the Seven Years’ War in North America. Continue reading

Another Five Haunted Places in Canada

The Haunted House (1929)

I had a lot of fun writing about Five Haunted Places in Canada last year, so I figured why not do it again for this Halloween? Ghost stories fit really well into a history blog. After all, when you’re looking into haunted matters generally it has some historical context to sort through. Also the list of supposedly haunted places across the country is actually a lot longer than these two lists combined so there’s no shortage of stories to tell. This year we’re going to explore the spirits who haunt a famous hotel, well-known landmarks, and a breathtaking national park. (On a latter note, I’m still working at that museum and I still haven’t seen a ghost. Not cool). Continue reading

Canadian Travel Ads (1940s-1960s)

Snapshots of Canada’s Past: History is more than just words on a screen or from a textbook; this series is a thematic look back at Canadian history through visual imagery.

It is hard to pinpoint when tourism began in Canada. Some consider European explorers of the 16th century to be the first Canadian tourists. Others argue it was the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th century that really got things rolling because with modernization came with the development of cars and airplanes.

The postwar era was a peak time for Canadian tourism. From 1945-1960, most tourists preferred to travel to a handful of developed countries; the top 15 destinations received 97% of international tourists. In 1950, after the United States, Canada was the second most popular place to visit. Contrast that today with those same 15 destinations receiving only 55% of tourists and as of 2014 Canada has dropped to 18th on the list.

Travel ads during this time had the general look of postwar era advertising. Poster and magazine design had become an art form and drew heavily from the modernism and art deco movements. Artists utilized rich colours and bold geometric shapes to catch the attention of prospective tourists. As a result, many vintage Canadian travel ads all have a similar look: bright, eye-catching paintings, big, happy faces, occasionally a lot of descriptive text. There are some other similarities as well. See if you can spot them by clicking on the images below. Continue reading

The Great Eh-scape

I know, I know. I’ll show myself out after starting off a blog post with a title like that.

But #MakeAFilmMoreCanadian was trending not too long ago on Twitter. A lot of the tweets were along the lines of The Eh Team, The Great Gretzky, and Pacific Roll Up the Rim. My personal favorite came from the twitter for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. When they posted this tweet…

…I remembered another Hollywood action film that cut out the significant role that Canadians played in the historical event.

A poster of the The Great Escape (1963). Starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough

I love this movie and won’t be bashing it in this post. However I will be separating fact from fiction and therefore there will be spoilers. If you haven’t seen The Great Escape, stop reading this article and go watch it right now. I will also be discussing the debate over whether historical accuracy in films is even that big of a deal. 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

U of T, I Wish I Knew How to Quit You

In 1847, the Provincial Normal School (above) was created because Upper Canadians realized that it was high time their teachers were formally trained. (Normal schools are what teachers colleges used to be called). Several name changes plus a full-on relocation and merger later, it’s now called the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. It’s also where I’ll be earning a Master of Teaching over the next two years. Yup, I’m one of those crazy people who want to become a teacher in Ontario.

Unfortunately, due to the heavy course load, four practicums, and a major research project, after September 6th I will be switching to posting once every two weeks.

Aside from wanting to be a teacher for years, this blog is part of the reason why I finally said to hell with being practical and decided to go through with it. As much as I enjoy researching and writing about history, the most fulfilling thing about this blog is knowing that people actually learn stuff from it. (Shout out to all the Google Classrooms who come here, I see you!) Even if teaching doesn’t pan out I know that education is where I belong, so I’m looking forward to seeing where the next two years leads me!

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Spotlight: Dr. Norman Bethune

Dr. Norman Bethune (c. 1938) was a tireless Canadian doctor and activist who remains a controversial humanitarian to this day. [Source]

Born in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Henry Norman Bethune (1890-1939) was a physician, surgeon, inventor, army officer, and during the last years of his life a strong supporter of communism. Difficult to get along with, impatient, and risk-taker in surgery, he alienated himself from the Canadian medical community. Ultimately though, it was these characteristics that led to his important medical work on the battlefield. He was the first to introduce mobile blood banks and his efforts during both the Spanish Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War are a part of his lasting legacy. Following his untimely (and slightly ironic) death, Dr. Bethune was elevated to icon status in China, making it fair to say he might just be better known there than in his home country. Continue reading

100 Posts Later

I honestly don’t know where the time went. One minute I was thinking about how it would be fun to start a blog. Next thing you know, I’m sitting here scratching my head, trying to figure out how to mark reaching 100 posts. I was going to do a retrospective, but then I had a better idea…

It has been a while since I changed things up. Also, I have made things easier to find now by totally revamping my menu section. Readers can browse through old posts based on my various blog series or by chronology. I will be tinkering with the menu over the next while, but my goal is to make it super easy for new and old readers to find exactly what they’re looking for. Let me know what you think of the changes!

Finally, I want to thank all my readers, supporters, and those who keep coming back week after week. Thank you for sticking with me over the past two years. Think I can reach 200 posts? 😛

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