Erasing History? On Problematic Representations of the Past


An Angus Reid poll found that 55% of Canadians are against renaming schools named after Sir John A. Macdonald. When it comes to statues however, 71% are open to the idea of relocating monuments to museums where they can be viewed in proper historical context. [Source]

I’m about two weeks late on all the buzz surrounding this topic, but oh well. I have been thinking a lot about representations of history throughout 2017; how we choose to commemorate the past, as well as the politics and implications that go along with this. It’s hard not to think about, what with the #Canada150 rhetoric in full swing throughout the first half of the year, along with all of the controversies around historical place names and statues both here and in the US. This post has to do with the latter. This is not an opinion piece, rather it is a collection of the many different opinions that have emerged from the debate on statues and place names honouring problematic figures from Canadian and American history. I leave it up to you to make up your own mind. Continue reading

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Canadian History in the News: Spring 2017 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.

Canada: The story of how to alienate viewers before the series became decent halfway through.

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. This late spring edition will cover the debacle that was CBC’s The Story of US, controversy in the archival world, and different Canada 150-related articles. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Terry Fox Heritage Minute

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.”

In 1980, Terry Fox made history with his Marathon of Hope. 35 years later, over $650 million has been raised through the annual runs that are held on the second Sunday of September following Labour Day. To mark the anniversary, Historica Canada has released a new heritage minute to honour his ongoing legacy——and I have to say they did a great job.

Old White Guys Smiling for Votes: Canada’s Electoral History

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.

From the Chronicle Herald for August 6, 2015 by Michael de Adder.

It’s August 11, 2015 and that means that the 42nd Canadian General Election is only a mere 69 days away. If that seems horribly long and tedious, just remember it could be worse. That being said, between now and October 19th, I intend to do a couple of posts related to our own electoral history. The first of which is a visual look back at past Prime Ministers in the act of campaigning along with some fast facts about these 22 individuals. Continue reading