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Editors' Blog



One of the things I have come to appreciate since I started working at Canada's History is the personal connection many people have with the magazine. Many readers remember seeing The Beaver in their family home as they were growing up. The magazine, which has been around since 1920, forms part of cherished childhood memory for a lot of people.
Among them are Sally Evans and Janis Freer, two sisters from British Columbia who treasure a 1927 copy of The Beaver that includes a short biograpphy of William Sinclair (1766-1818), a Hudson's Bay Company chief factor at York Factory, accompanied by a photo of Thomas Sinclair, his great-grandson, visiting William's gravesite at York Factory.
Why was this article so carefully preserved by Sally and Janis's mother and passed down to them? Because William Sinclair is their great-great-great grandfather. And Thomas Sinclair is their great-uncle.
This article, along with an album of old photos of their Uncle Tom's journey to York Factory by canoe in 1927, and their late mother's stories about how they are descended from William and his Cree wife Nahoway, inspired the sisters to go on a once-in-a-liftetime trip to York Factory this past August.
I was lucky enough to be on that trip — part of an annual Manitoba Historical Fur Trade Tour organized by Winnipeg-based Heartland Travel that also took in Churchill and Norway House.
And so it was that Sally (below right) and Janis found themselves inside York Factory's depot building, with their copy of the magazine in hand.



Not only that, but they discovered that their fellow travellers, Nelson and Sharon Hogg of Medicine Hat, Alberta, were also distantly related to them through their common ancestor. For all four of them, arriving at William Sinclair's gravesite in York Factory was an emotionally charged experience.


 
York Factory is not an easy place to get to. Now an uninhabited National Historic Site, it is located at the mouth of the Hayes River on the shore of Hudson Bay and is accessible by float plane for just a few weeks of the year. Or you could paddle down the Hayes River for about a month.
We didn't have to paddle but it was quite an adventure just the same. Five of us ended up on an unscheduled overnight stop in York Factory when our float plane became fogbound.
While there, we were billetted in the Parks Canada staff house, where maintenance manager Mike Hawkins just happened to have his own special dog-eared issue of The Beaver lying around.
This one was from the winter of 1957. The entire issue was devoted to the closure of York Factory and it gives a detailed history of the fort.



This particular copy has probably been at the fort since the year it was published. For a long time its pages were pinned to the walls. 
I have to say it was touching for me, as the magazine's senior editor in 2013, to see how the work of my predecesssors continues to be valued and preserved by people today. And it causes me to wonder, what will we at Canada's History magazine write today that will still be cherised many decades into the future?
Watch for more about the Manitoba Historical Fur Trade Tour in the February-March 2014 issue of Canada's History.



Posted: 23/09/2013 10:58:49 AM by Nelle Oosterom | with 0 comments
We're busy today putting the finishing touches on our October-November issue, but I couldn't help but share this bizarre story about the heist of a bunch of historic logs in Winnipeg. If you see a masked person drive by hauling a load of hot logs, call Crimestoppers!
Posted: 21/08/2013 3:17:41 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
To be honest, I can't say for certain that my Scottish ancestors were forced out of Scotland.

All I know is that at some point, a man named John Reid from Skye, born in the late 1700s, decided there might be a better life waiting across the Atlantic in Canada.

Ariving on the north shore of Nova Scotia, he eventually settled near Pugwash, and began a life of farming.

Reid's departure from his homeland coincides with the infamous highland clearances, during which entire  families were removed from the land to make room for sheep farms.

John Reid was on my mind as listened to presentations this morning by three historians who are researching  Asian emigration to Canada, the United States and Mexico.

David Atkinson, of Purdue, Yukari Takai of York, and Elliot Young of Lewis and Clark University all gave great presentations.

They explained that most Asian immigrants faced bigotry upon arrival in North America. In Canada, citizens of European descent saw the new immigrants as a threat to both employment opportunities, and also, to the morals of the community. 

In Vancouver, for instance, the racism erupted into a violent episode today known as the 1907 anti-Asiatic riot.

I can't help by wonder what drove Asian immigrants to leave their homelands, knowing that they would face such bigotry in North America.

Leaving home isn’t an easy decision.

As a rural Canadian, I knew that I would eventually have to leave my home to find work in my chosen field. 

In my case, I ultimately left Nova Scotia to settle in Western Canada. "Going down the road" is a choice that I still grapple with -- and I chose it willingly, for economic reasons.

How difficult it must have been for those early immigrants from Asia. They were, upon their arrival, strangers in a strange land surrounded by hostile citizens speaking foreign languages. How dismaying it must have been to watch governments enact exclusionary laws in an attempt to halt further emigration from Asia to Canada.

Thankfully, those dark days are behind us. For the descendants of those brave pioneers from Asia, they have reason for pride. Their ancestors were unwanted, but undaunted. Thanks to their perseverance, our modern, multicultural nation came into being.
 
Posted: 05/06/2013 2:08:19 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

An examination of the impacts of colonization on the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada has won the Governor General's History Award for Scholarly Research: The Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best history book.

Written by William C. Wicken, a history professor at York University, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy is a “finely crafted and tightly argued study of memory and meaning,” judges said, “written in a style that is spare and clean, makes imaginative use of a wide range of existing sources to answer innovative epistemological questions fundamental to the historical project.”

The winner of the Sir John A Macdonald Prize will receive his award from the Right Honourable David Johnston this November at the Governor General's History Awards, administered by Canada's History Society.

The Sir John A. Macdonald Prize is one of a host of awards handed out each year during the Canadian Historical Association annual conference, this year held at the University of Victoria.

The full list of winners is as follows:

2013 PRIZE CEREMONIES / LA REMISE DES PRIX 2013

CHR Best Article Prize

WINNER / LAURÉAT:

Jarrett Rudy, “Do You Have the Time? Modernity, Democracy, and the Beginnings of Daylight Saving Time in Montreal, 1907–1928,” (December 2012 issue).

Jarrett Rudy’s well-written article makes an original contribution to our understanding of modernity in urban Canada.  By exploring debates over daylight savings time in Montreal, Rudy sheds new light on how politics and social pressures shaped public policy.   Rudy places these debates in the larger context of the “disembedding of time from place” and local issues such as rural-urban tensions.  He draws deeply on an array of primary sources, deals broadly with Canadian historiography, and engages creatively with the theoretical literature.  His article skilfully demonstrates the complex and sometimes contradictory ways in which Canadians participated in the processes of modernization. 

Prix Eugene Forsey Prize (Awarded by the Canadian Committee on Labour for graduate and undergraduate work on Canadian labour and working-class history / Le Comité canadien sur l'histoire du travail remet le prix à un(e) étudiante(e) qui œuvre dans le domaine de l'histoire canadienne du travail et de la classe ouvrière) 

WINNER / LAURÉAT: 

Jacob Aaron Carliner Remes. "City of Comrades : Urban Disasters and the Formation of the North American Progressive State." Duke University (History Department, 2010). 

Jacob Aaron Carliner Remes's PhD thesis, "City of Comrades : Urban Disasters and the Formation of the North American Progressive State", examines an important moment in the rise of the technocratic state during the Progressive Era. Using a wide array of Canadian and American sources, Remes brilliantly examines the tensions arising between the state and working class survivors’ formal organizations and informal groups. Remes’s transnational work displays great insight and originality, with its stress on how rescue and relief operations are unavoidably political. 

Prix Hilda Neatby Prize (Awarded by the Canadian Committee on Women’s History,  it  recognises each year the best articles in French and English on women's history / Le Comité canadien de l’histoire des femmes remet le prix annuellement au  meilleur article de langue française et le meilleur article de langue anglaise sur l'histoire des femmes)

WINNER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTICLE/LAURÉATE DE L’ARTICLE DE LANGUE ANGLAISE : 

Sheyfali Saujani, "Empathy and Authority in Oral Testimony: Feminist Debates, Multicultural Mandates, and Reassessing the Interviewer and her 'Disagreeable' Subjects."  Histoire social/Social History, vol. XLV, no. 90 (November 2012), 361-391.

Sheyfali Saujani’s article makes significant contributions to feminist historical theory and methodology, demonstrating that oral history interviews can contain conversational ruptures in which interviewees withhold empathy and assert authority.  According to Saujani, some interviewees rejected being addressed as ethnic subjects, for in their views, “ethnic” labelling contained subtle insinuations of ignorance.  Combining perceptive textual analysis with discussions of broader racial tensions during the 1970s, “Empathy and Authority” offers valuable new insights into oral history practice, as well as into feminist historiography more generally.

WINNER OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE ARTICLE /LE LAURÉAT DE L’ARTICLE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE : 

Le prix n’est pas offert cette année / The prize is not awarded this year

Public History Prize

WINNERS / LAURÉATS: 

James Opp, Anthony Whitehead and Will Knight, “Rideau Timescapes”. A free downloadable app for Apple iOS.

This innovative iPhone application takes its users on a journey through the past, allowing them to interact with the visual heritage of lockstations along the historic Rideau canal. GPS technology allows visitors of the lockstations to overlay the past and present views. The unique Timescape view allows them to witness the changes in the landscape through time. By combining historical documentation and technology, the creators of this tool have made an outstanding contribution to public history, in the process creating a platform that can be used in contexts other than the Rideau Canal. 

Political History Group 

Prix du meilleur article en français / Best Article in French Prize

WINNER/LAURÉAT:

Mourad Djebabla pour « Le gouvernement fédéral et la diète de guerre proposée et imposée aux Canadiens ». Bulletin d’histoire politique (vol. 20, no 2) Automne 2011.

Cet article comporte plusieurs qualités. Son auteur aborde le thème de la consommation alimentaire pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. Mourad Djebabla montre que la politique canadienne en matière de rationnement est le produit du contexte d’une guerre qui exige la maximalisation des ressources aux fins de la victoire finale, et que cette politique dépend fortement de l’évolution du conflit et des relations internationales. L’auteur analyse les efforts étatiques pour réorienter la production des 3 B (blé, bacon et bœuf) dans le but d’aider les alliés. Enfin, cet article est basé sur de solides sources variées et est appuyé par une analyse fine.

Best Article in English Prize / Prix du meilleur article en anglais

WINNER/LAURÉAT:

Peter Price. "Fashioning a Constitutional Narrative: John S. Ewart and the Development of a ‘Canadian Constitution’". Canadian Historical Review : 93.3 (2012)

In a cogently argued and well-written article, Peter Price analyses lawyer John S. Ewart’s efforts to craft and popularize a constitutional narrative supporting an independent Canadian nationalism. Price demonstrates the importance of competing constitutional narratives in debates about politics and identity in Canada.  In drawing upon the work of political scientists, historians, and legal scholars, and from his careful analysis of Ewart’s personal correspondence and publications, Price shows how Ewart resisted the hegemony of British imperialism.  Price thus breathes new life into debates about the constitution, and invites scholars to re-visit this subject in their considerations of national identity, state formation, and attitudes towards the British Empire.

Political History Group Book Prize / Prix du livre en histoire politique

WINNER/LAURÉAT:

Bruce Curtis. Ruling By Schooling Quebec: Conquest to Liberal Governmentality – A Historical Sociology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Ruling by Schooling Quebec is an innovative and forceful examination of the links between education, power, and governance from 1759 to 1841.  Meticulously and exhaustively researched, it examines the attempts of colonial administrators and their local allies to introduce structures and modes of liberal government in Quebec and Lower Canada through schooling the population. As one prize committee member described it, “this book is a tour de force of creativity, breadth, and flair” and is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the contested history of liberal governance and education in Quebec in the 19th century.

Aboriginal History Prize

a)    Best Article Prize / Prix du meilleur article

WINNER/LAURÉAT:

Miles Powell, “Divided Waters: Heiltsuk Spatial Management of Herring Fisheries and the Politics of Native Sovereignty" in The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter 2012, pp. 463-484)

Powell’s important article links history to contemporary politics and offers dynamic insights from a variety of disciplines. It is a welcome contribution to the growing literature on the utility and successful implementation of traditional practices within aboriginal communities. In brief, Powell demonstrates how the Heiltsuk effectively managed their herring fisheries through complex systems of marine space.  It traces this management by looking at how the Canadian state originally deemed these systems primitive and unlawful, but later adopted a quota system that paralleled its aboriginal antecedents. Powell effectively demonstrates how this new spatial order continued to privilege the interests of the colonizers.

b) Book Prize / Prix du livre

SHORT LIST / LISTE COURTE  - In alphabetical order / Par ordre alphabétique

Tolly Bradford, Prophetic Identities: Indigenous Missionaries on British Colonial Frontiers, 1850-75. Vancouver:University of British Columbia Press, 2012.

Leslie A. Robertson with the Kwagu’ł Gixsam Clan, Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las:  Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012.

William C. Wicken, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

WINNERS / LAURÉATES:

Leslie A. Robertson with the Kwagu’ł Gixsam Clan, Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las:  Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012.

This book is a revisionist biography of Kwakwaka’wakw leader and activist Jane Constance Cook or Ga’axsta’las (1870-1951), written in response to community and scholarly representations that depicted her only narrowly as an “anti-potlatcher.” The work also offers a rich history of a local community’s negotiation with colonialism by examining community interpretations of smallpox, treaties, trade and the economy, relationships with missionaries, ceremonial practice, and local perspectives of health care, among other things. Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las is an especially innovative work in Canadian Aboriginal History.

CHA PRIZES / PRIX DE LA SHC

JCHA, issues #1 and #2 Best Article Prize

WINNER/LA LAURÉAT: 

Ian Milligan. "Mining the 'Internet Graveyard': Rethinking the Historians'Toolkit” in JCHA/RSHC volume 2

The deluge of information created in a digital format in the last fifty years has changed the game for historians of recent times. In his timely article, Ian Milligan proposes that historians need not abandon their methods, but rather expand their toolkits to handle the volume and form of digital information, by focusing on “distance reading,” such as machine-reading of large amounts of information to find broad patterns. He walks us through existing tools for managing digital information, and then considers how historians may develop their own software to create tools specific to historians’ concerns. This excellent article encourages historians to embracing programming as a new skill for historical research.

Prix Bullen Prize (The John Bullen Prize honours the outstanding Ph.D. thesis on a historical topic submitted in a Canadian university by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident / Le prix John-Bullen est accordé à la meilleure thèse de doctorat complétée dans une université canadienne et portant sur tout domaine de spécialisation en histoire)

WINNER / LA LAURÉATE : 

Helen Dewar.  ¨Y establir nostre auctorité ¨: Assertions of Imperial Sovereignty through Proprietorships and Chartered Companies in New France, 1598-1663¨. History Department –University of Toronto, 2012

Mary Helen Dewar opens new perspectives on the history of the first decades of New France by inscribing this troubled period in the Atlantic context, from a perspective of the construction of the modern state and the French empire. By adroitly analyzing the designs and the exercise of authority and power entrusted to trading companies, she reconstructs the transatlantic networks of influence and skillfully weaves the complex web of tensions that are played out at the Royal Court and in the courts of provincial justice. This thesis has the potential to transform the interpretation generally advanced for the period 1598-1663 with regards to New France.  

Prix Clio Prizes (These annual awards are given for meritorious publications or for exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations to regional history / Les prix sont attribués à des œuvres méritoires ou contributions exceptionnelles d’individus ou d’organismes à l’histoire régionale)

Atlantic Region / L’Atlantique

WINNER / LE LAURÉAT: 

Wiliam C. Wicken. The colonization of Mi'kmaw memory and history, 1794-1928 : The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy. (University of Toronto Press, 2012).

In this engaging and inventive study, Wicken explores the “living tradition” of a treaty relationship across some 200 years. His narrative hook is a 1928 appeal of the conviction of Gabriel Sylliboy, Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq, for violating Nova Scotia’s game laws. Wicken illustrates the way that Sylliboy and five other Mi’kmaw witnesses “remembered” the 1752 treaty between their ancestors and the British Crown, based on “collected” memories from earlier generations. The book is an interrogation of the relationship between shifting Mi’kmaw experiences within colonialism and the gradual modification of collective memory over time.

Québec

THE LAURÉAT / WINNER : 

Bruce Curtis. Ruling By Schooling Quebec: Conquest to Liberal Governmentality – A Historical Sociology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Ruling by Schooling Quebec provides a rich and detailed account of colonial politics from 1760 to 1841 by following repeated attempts to school the people. This first book since the 1950s to investigate an unusually complex period in Quebec’s educational history extends the sophisticated method used in author Bruce Curtis’s double-award-winning Politics of Population.

Drawing on a mass of archival material, Curtis documents educational conditions on the ground, but also shows how imperial attempts to govern a tumultuous colony propelled the early development of Canadian social science. He provides a revisionist account of the pioneering investigations of Lord Gosford and Lord Durham.

Ontario

WINNER / LE LAURÉAT

Dan Malleck.  Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44. (University of British Columbia Press, 2012)

This book examines the ways in which the public consumption of alcoholic beverage became regulated by the state in the years between the end of Prohibition in 1927, when the Province created the iconic and powerful Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), and 1944, when new legislation altered and divided the regulation apparatus of liquor distribution and sales in Ontario. The book is informed by social theory, but as good history should, it allows its rich empirical evidence to speak loudest. The best compliment that can be paid to any scholarly history is true of this one: it is convincing.

The Prairies / Les Prairies

WINNER / LA LAURÉATE

Shelley A.M. Gavigan. Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Hunters, Horses and Government Men is a meticulously researched, carefully argued, and subtle account of the relationship between Aboriginal people and the law on the Plains at a time when the new Canadian state sought to assert its colonial power over the indigenous inhabitants of the region. Shelley A.M. Gavigan's study historicizes and complicates current assumptions about the criminalization of Aboriginal peoples. Based upon close study of criminal cases in the region from 1870 - 1905, the book draws important distinctions between the workings of the criminal law, and what Gavigan refers to as the "Indianization" of Aboriginal peoples subject to the Indian Act (1876).

The North / Le Nord

WINNER / LAURÉAT: 

Wendy Dathan, The Reindeer Botanist: Alf Erling Porsild, 1901-1977. (University of Calgary Press, 2012)

The Reindeer Botanist is a remarkable account of the botanical career of Alf Erling Porsild, spanning not only the Yukon and the Northwest Territories but also Alaska and Greenland. Porsild is perhaps best known for his involvement in northern reindeer projects, but his work as the Curator of Botany at the National Museum of Canada, and his long botanical career and northern field experience made him a key figure in twentieth-century northern science. Dathan’s sensitivity and effort has produced a personal history of Canadian botany, by a botanist, but also a history of an extraordinary life.

British Columbia / La Colombie-Britannique

WINNERS / LAURÉATS:

Leslie A. Robertson, with the Kwagu'l Gixsam Clan, for Standing Up with Ga'axsta'las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church, and Custom (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012).

This groundbreaking book deploys the toolkits of both anthropologists and historians to tell the story of a complex and controversial person – Ga'axsta'las, or Jane Constance Cook – at a difficult moment in the history of the Kwakwaka’wakw.  The book takes the reader into the heart of Cook’s historical moment when her opposition to the potlatch and her deep Christianity led her to be dismissed by many as a sell-out to colonialism. The result is a book that sets a new standard of sophistication, challenging historians to work harder to move past the simple colonial frames in which BC history is still often told.    

Lifetime Achievement Award / Prix Honorifique

Patricia Roy

The BC Clio Prize Committee is very pleased to award Dr. Patricia Roy a 2013 Clio “Lifetime Achievement” Award in recognition of her distinguished career as a leading historian of British Columbia.  Dr. Roy’s studies of the political history of the province, in particular, her analyses of the anxiety about race in the context of colonialism, are mainstays of the region’s historiography.  Her breadth and insight are evident in her long list of publications. We consider her extremely deserving of a Clio Lifetime Achievement Award, and wish to thank her for all that she has taught us about her home province.

Ferguson Prize (It is awarded to outstanding scholarly book in a field of history other than Canadian history / Le prix récompense le meilleur ouvrage scientifique en histoire autre que canadienne)

SHORT LIST / LISTE COURTE

Stephen Brooke, Sexual Politics: Sexuality, Family Planning, and the British Left from the 1880s to the Present Day. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Jeremy Brown, City versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Tomaz Jardim, The Mauthausen Trial : American Military Justice in Germany. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

HONOURABLE MENTION HONORABLE

Jeremy Brown, City versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

In City versus Countryside in Mao’s China, Jeremy Brown presents a series of meticulously researched case studies of villages and enterprises in the region southeast of Beijing to overturn the received history of the first three decades of the People’s Republic of China. Brown argues that, while Mao Zedong may have led his revolution from the countryside, he built the state and economy of the People’s Republic by subordinating agriculture to industry and protecting the cities at any cost. Brown is particularly to be commended for his success in connecting local case studies to a larger revision of China’s Communist revolution. 

WINNER / LAURÉAT: 

Tomaz Jardim, The Mauthausen Trial : American Military Justice in Germany. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

The Mauthausen Trial is a masterful study of one of the many Dachau trials organized by the American military after the Second World War to address Nazi war crimes arising from the incarceration and murder of civilians. Thoroughly documented, systematically presented, and compelling to read, The Mauthausen Trial strikes a deft balance between exposing the intricate details of legal procedure and precedent and representing the very human motivations and reactions of prosecutors, camp survivors, and the accused. The current controversy over the constitutional validity of trial by military commission for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay only makes this book all the more timely and relevant.

Sir John A Macdonald Prize (It is awarded to the non-fiction work of Canadian history judged to have made the most significant contribution to an understanding of the Canadian past / Le prix consacre l'ouvrage en histoire du Canada jugé comme apportant la contribution la plus significative à la compréhension du passé canadien)

SHORT LIST / LISTE COURTE

Michael Boudreau, City of Order: Crime and Society in Halifax, 1918-35. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Bruce Curtis, Ruling By Schooling Quebec: Conquest to Liberal Governmentality – A Historical Sociology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Shelley A. M. Gavigan, Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Reg Whitaker, Gregory S. Kealey and Andrew Parnaby, Secret Service: Political Policing in Canada from the Fenians to Fortress America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

William C. Wicken, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS HONORABLES

a)    Shelley A. M. Gavigan, Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012.

Bridging the fields of law and history, and documenting the complex relationship between Plains First Nations and Canadian criminal law, Hunger, Horses, and Government Men: Criminal Law on the Aboriginal Plains, 1870-1905 engages with a vast current of recent criminal justice history that attempts to balance control/domination and agency. Based substantially on data derived from two sets of criminal court records from 1876-86 and  1887-1903,  the book explores what law meant to Aboriginal people at a time of increasingly coercive colonization. In attempting to understand the “actual process of criminalization,” Gavigan makes an important contribution to both Canadian legal history and prairies history.

Reg Whitaker, Gregory S. Kealey and Andrew Parnaby, Secret Service: Political Policing in Canada from the Fenians to Fortress America. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

This book promises to be the definitive work on the history of intelligence and security in Canada for some time to come. Analytic, yes, but also lively, it clearly illustrates that for most of its history, the Canadian secret services did not spy abroad but at home. They were obsessed with “subversives” who could disrupt the Canadian status quo. Despite the obvious difficulties in accessing the material, this is a thoroughly well documented book, elegantly written, and remarkably balanced, considering the sensitivity of the topic, and the fact that one of the authors had himself been a target of surveillance.

WINNER / LAURÉAT:

William C. Wicken, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.

This finely crafted and tightly argued study of memory and meaning, written in a style that is spare and clean, makes imaginative use of a wide range of existing sources to answer innovative epistemological questions fundamental to the historical project. Working backward in time from the Gabriel Sylliboy court case of 1928, the book uncovers how successive generations of Mi’kmaq remembered a treaty signed in the eighteenth century.  Such questions about the relationship between memory and aboriginal rights makes The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History a book that advances a challenging argument about an important subject in Canadian history.  

Posted: 04/06/2013 8:45:16 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
In recent months, the HBC announced it was leaving "The Bay" moniker behind, in favour of a new name, Hudson's Bay, which was more evocative of the company's rich centuries-old past.


The move (which I personally applaud) was on my mind this morning as I attended a session at CHA2013 on the HBC's original decision to rebrand itself as The Bay back in the 1960s. Presenter James Opp of Carleton University in Ottawa explained the behind the scenes debate that went on in the HBC over the introduction of The Bay brand, which took effect in 1965. Opp's research indicates that while senior company officials favoured the original Hudson's Bay Company moniker, "ad men" working with the company preferred the new, sleek, and decidedly modern The Bay.

At the same time, ironically, The Bay was busy preparing for its 300th anniversary celebration in 1970.

I guess it's true what they say, what goes around comes around, including the name of our most iconic retailer.

More than 40 years after the introduction of The Bay, Hudson's Bay is back. For anyone who cares about Canada's history and heritage, that has to be a good thing.
Posted: 04/06/2013 2:34:01 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Jane Nicholas of Lakehead University speaks about the ethics of using photos that exploit their subject
Jane Nicholas of Lakehead University speaks about the ethics ofusing photos that exploit their subjects


In decades past, Canadians would often head to the carnival for entertainment. Sometimes, these shows would include so-called "freak shows."


Many of these so-called freaks were actually people with varying disabilities or diseases which caused their deformities. On Tuesday, historian Jane Nicholas of Lakehead University prompted a thoughtful discussion of the ethics of using historical photographs of "freak show" subjects for research today.


She began her presentation with the example of two children that were presented in a sideshow as "elephant skinned boys." In truth, they were both suffering from a severe dermatological condition.  Taken at the turn of the 19th century, these children are now deceased. But Nicholas says she still found herself not only moved by that photo she saw, but also, questioning the ethicality of subjecting these boys to further scrutiny by a modern audience.


She explained that many children in freak shows were there against their will, sometimes sold into virtual slavery.


These children -- and their suffering -- were already objectified and commoditized  by their oppressors. Nicholas wonders whether using their photos, displaying them to the public, further exploits them. What duty do historians hold to the dead? It's a profound question, and one that sparked much debate and discussion.

As someone who has published two photos largely based on archival photography, I found myself today pondering Nicholas's question. It's one that has no easy answers.

Posted: 04/06/2013 2:05:24 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Natalie Zemon Davis believes we can learn a lot about the present, and the future, by looking to the past.

The historian and author gave the keynote address today to kick off the Canadian Historical Association's annual conference, which is taking place in Victoria, B.C.

Davis is the author of Trickster Travels, the biography of an Arab man who wowed European audiences in the 16th century with his travelogue on Africa.

Al-Hasan al-Wazzan's The Description of Africa was "remarkably accurate" for its day. Davis says a key feature of al-Wazzan's writing was his ability to bridge the Christian and Muslim worlds without weighing his writing down with bias.

It was a fitting keynote, considering that the theme of this year's conference is: Intersections and Edges.
Posted: 03/06/2013 2:29:47 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

                      

They have come from across the country—and the world—to share new research, and also, to offer insights into the way we lived. Several hundred historians have gathered in Victoria, British Columbia, for the annual conference of the Canadian Historical Association.

The CHA conference is part of Congress 2013, the annual gathering of humanities and social sciences researchers. There are more than 7,000 delegates to the event, which brings together scholars, students, policy-makers and leaders involved in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including history, political science, literature, sociology and education.

Over the next few days, Canada’s History will bring you stories on cutting-edge history, exclusive interviews with historians and researchers, and also, news reports from the Canadian Historical Association’s Clio Awards, which will be held on Tuesday night.

Stay tuned to CanadasHistory.ca for more from the CHA conference at Congress 2013.

Mark Reid
Editor-in-Chief





Natalie Zemon Davis, right, gave the keynote address this morning to the CHA.
Natalie Zemon Davis, right, gave the keynote address this morning to the CHA.

Posted: 03/06/2013 1:24:46 PM by Jen Sguigna | with 0 comments

If history is to have a future, then we need to find ways to get young Canadians engaged and involved in our collective past.

That's why we at Canada's History were happy to have — if even for a single day — student Geneviève Michaud, a Grade 9 student of College Louis Riel in Winnipeg.

During a recent visit, she was given the following assignment: to find three history-related news stories, synthesize them into web-based news promos, and provide links to the full story. She did a fantastic job for us, and here are the items she has chosen for your reading pleasure.

War Of 1812 artifacts
As Canadians continue to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, artifacts from that war are more desirable than ever. Unlike in the First and Second World Wars, the people who lived and fought in the War of 1812 did not typically save their weapons or uniforms. Examples of weapons or uniforms today are very valuable and rare. They are often found in public collections such as museums. However, this does not stop collectors from seeking them.

A recent issue of the National Post contains a feature article on these avid War of 1812 collectors and their prized artifacts. To read the story, go to the link.

— by Geneviève Michaud

Victory on the plate

 “Eat right, feel right — Canada needs you strong!” This was the slogan for the new wartime nutritional guidelines during the Second World War.

Between sending food overseas to soldiers and rationing it at home, the time of the world wars were not an easy one.

Many women found themselves cooking for very large families, as well as sending packages of food to their husbands overseas.

Some wartime dishes were tastier than others. The recipes ranged from delicious boiled Canadian lobster, to the rather bland Canadian war cakes.

Today, some chefs are attempting to recreate these wartime recipes for modern foodies. The Winnipeg Free Press has a few recipes that will make your mouth water, while honouring our war veterans.

 

— by Geneviève Michaud

Canadian Currency Controversy

When it comes to changing our currency, even the smallest adjustments can spark controversy. When the Canadian government recently decided to introduce a new $20 bill, it immediately caused a stir.

Some people claimed that they were able to see the silhouette of a nude woman on the polymer bill.

Others complained that the Vimy memorial which is featured on the bank note, looked too much like the World Trade Center that had been destroyed in a terrorist attack in 2001.

However, controversies concerning currency aren’t new to this country. Recently Canada.com explored the history of controversy surrounding Canada’s money.

You can read about it here.

— by Geneviève Michaud

Posted: 07/11/2012 3:17:02 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

Last week we received the following letter from a reader responding to the article "Face of Fiction" [June-July 2012] by Sarah Scott. Mr. Stewart is correct in that Gertrude Kearns should be acknowledged. In fact, her sketch is among the illustrations in our Photo Gallery of the exhibit review for 1812: One War, Four Perspectives.

Gertrude Kearns, Sketch of Tecumseh. © Canadian War Museum/CWM 20120064-002"I suggest that Sarah Scott literally missed the bigger picture when she overlooked Tecumseh’s 2008 portrait by Canadian artist Gertrude Kearns. Kearns was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Military Institute to create portraits of both General Brock and Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, which were unveiled at RCMI in November 2008.

I am attaching a pdf of the program from that unveiling. The artist, who was part of the Canadian Forces Artists Program in Afghanistan, took the time and care to research collections of clothing, weapons and personal items associated with the man, the circumstances of his life and the period, as well as interview and sketch a direct descendant together with other Shawnee individuals in Oklahoma, before creating a series of study sketches from live models in Toronto.

This was an important creative project with a significant historical purpose by a highly accomplished and recognized Canadian artist resulting in a pair of portraits as well as studies (now owned by the Canadian War Museum) that I should think warrant some acknowledgement in your article."

ANDREW M. STEWART
TORONTO, ONTARIO

Posted: 03/07/2012 3:25:24 PM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments

Each year, there’s an event that I look forward to immensely – but it’s one that most Canadians know very little about.

It’s the annual gathering of the Canadian Historical Association – an event that brings together the brightest minds in Canadian history to share new research into our nation’s past.

This year, the meetings are being held at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario. The title of the conference is “Scholarship at a Crossroads.”

On Monday morning, I headed to the campus to hunt for new research that has what we call in the magazine business “story potential.”

Although I’m the Editor-in-Chief of a history magazine — and although I have published several books that deal with public history — I’m not what you would consider an upper-case “H” Historian. I don’t spend countless hours in dusty archives searching for new source material – in the magazine business, there’s always a new and looming deadline to meet. And so, I’m incredibly grateful to the professional and academic historians who do the heavy lifting in the trenches to uncover new perspectives – and new stories – in Canadian history.

Most of my first day at the CHA meetings was spent attending sessions relating to the War of 1812 bicentennial that’s currently underway across Canada.

It’s a fascinating subject, because it’s a conflict filled with shades of grey. Involving Britain, Canada, Aboriginal nations and America, it was a smaller part of the wider Napoleonic wars that torn apart much of Europe in the early 1800s. Some might say that it decided the ultimate geo-political fate of North America.

A day earlier, on Sunday, I had the privilege of traveling through the Niagara region of Ontario, visiting three different War of 1812 battlefield sites. It was great preparation for Monday’s conversations surrounding the way we commemorate the war, and the controversies that have arisen around those commemorations.

There are many schools of thought in terms of what is the “right” way to remember the war. For traditional military historians, and indeed, for many typical Canadians, the war is largely remembered for its military aspects – who fought who, when did the battles occur, did we win or lose, etc, and why.

But some historians have decried what they claim is an “overly militaristic” tone surrounding the current and upcoming bicentennial commemoration events. For me, it’s a tough one. Surely there’s a way to ensure all sides are fairly represented in the narrative, without totally ignoring the “traditional” military aspects of the war. The courage it required for soldiers to fight in this bloody and brutish conflict is beyond belief. This was a war that saw both sides commit and suffer what we today would call “atrocities.” Civilian populations were attacked, homes and communities were put to the torch, and prisoners were massacred. It’s a war of promises and betrayals, often fought with incompetence and ill planning. When I think of the War of 1812, I think of repeated battles where defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory; hills and forts are stormed for no apparent strategic reason, only to be given up days or weeks later. For the Aboriginal nations, it was a war fought to preserve their traditional homelands. In that sense, they were the biggest losers of the entire affair.

During a session on “Conflict and its Legacies: Indigenous Peoples and the War of 1812,” Robin Jarvis Brownlie of the University of Manitoba spoke about how the European newcomers not only stole Aboriginal land – they even co-opted the Six Nations’ greatest warrior chief, Tecumseh and used him as a propaganda tool in attempts to “civilize” Aboriginals.

It’s been 200 years since the war, but its repercussions are still felt today. Stephanie Danyluk of the University of Saskatchewan shared with use the story of the Dakota people, who have fought a long legal battle with the government of Canada to be granted the same rights as Canadian “status Indians.” The debate stems from events in the War of 1812. Danyluk explained that that the Dakota originally lived between modern-day Detroit and Minnesota, and fought for the British during the War of 1812 during the campaigns on that frontier. The Dakota claim that, in exchange for helping the British fight the war, they were promised land and protection in Canada if they ever required, or desired it. Beginning in the 1860s, a series of clashed with the Americans forced the Dakota north into Canada. But rather than being welcomed, the Dakota were treated like illegal aliens, considered American Indians who had no right or title to land in Canada. So far, efforts by the Dakota to use the courts to force Canada to accept their historic demands have failed.

A little later in the day, I attended a session on the commemoration of the war — specifically, on how Canadians sought to celebrate the war’s centenary. Historians Brandon Dimmel of the University of Western Ontario, Ross Fair of Ryerson University, and Elaine Young of the University of Guelph each gave compelling talks about the public and political struggles Canadians faced with regards to the commemoration.

In Toronto, for instance, there was a big drive to build a national War of 1812 monument. But, as Ross Fair showed us, the drive ultimately stalled, in part, because no level of government was willing to foot the $200,000 bill for the planned monument.

It also turns out that not all Canadians were keen to commemorate the war – or at least, to commemorate it in the way the government of the day intended – as a celebration of a “century of peace” with the Americans. Dimmel said that while Canadians living far from the War of 1812 battlefields thought it was a great idea, those closer to the action still had long memories of the atrocities committed. With so many of their relatives injured or killed in the conflict, there was little stomach for partying it up with the Americans. At that point, they weren’t ready to forgive, or forget.

One of the best parts of covering this event is coming across young historians who are doing pushing boundaries with their research. I especially enjoyed a session by Laurie Betram of the University of Alberta titled, “Sweatstains and bullet Holes: Clothing, Memory and the Material Culture of Trauma.” It was really thought-provoking stuff, and I hope to have her write about her research in an upcoming issue of Canada’s History magazine. That’s it for now. Next up, Day 2 of the conference, and also, my coverage of Tuesday night’s CHA’s awards gala, where some lucky – and deserving – historian will go home with the top prize for academic history writing in Canada, the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize.
Posted: 28/05/2012 9:46:38 PM by Joel Ralph | with 0 comments

Two hundred years ago, Canadians found themselves at the epicentre of a war between Britain and the United States — one in which Canada would be the main battleground.

The War of 1812 in many ways shaped the future of the continent. On Sunday, I finally had a chance to travel to the Niagara Peninsula to visit many of the key battlefields that helped decide the course of the conflict.



Fort George National Historic Site.

Along with Canada’s History Publisher Deborah Morrison and a bus full of history enthusiasts, we travelled to three main sites: Fort George National Historic National Historic Site, which was the headquarters for the British’s Centre Division until it was captured and ultimately captured by the Americans in 1813. It was occupied for seven months before the British could recapture it.

The tour was led by Terry Copp, professor emeritus of history at Wilfrid Laurier University and the director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.

We travelled to Queenston Heights, home of the imposing and impressive monument to General Isaac Brock, the quintessential hero of the conflict who was killed while leading a charge on the American-occupied Redan at the Heights. The monument is 184 feet tall, and a real killer to climb; I know, as I managed to mount all 200 plus steps to take in the view from the top.

Our tour ended at Fort Erie, which was captured by the Americans in both 1813 and 1814. It’s known today is Canada’s bloodiest battlefield. So many men were killed, mass burials were required to deal with the dead. The following are some images from our battlefields tour, which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in our nation’s past.



Fort Erie National Historic Site.

 

Posted: 28/05/2012 10:55:19 AM by Joel Ralph | with 0 comments
Betty Fox, mother of Terry Fox, died this morning, one week before the anniversary of her son's passing.

According to her biography on the Terry Fox Foundation website, "it is estimated that Betty spoke to more than 400,000 school children alone during her 25 years of touring, leaving each and every child with the inspirational story of the Marathon of Hope."

We offer our condolences to the Fox family. To learn more about Betty Fox, visit TerryFox.org.

Posted: 17/06/2011 3:42:25 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Visit our Special Feature area for more highlights of presentations during the 2011 Canadian Historical Association Congress.
Posted: 01/06/2011 1:09:51 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Historian studying seizure of Japanese-Canadian property in WWII.

Many Canadians today are aware that their federal government rounded up Japanese Canadians during the Second World War and shipped them off to internment camps the interior of British Columbia.

Considered a threat due to Japan’s involvement in the war, these citizens were ordered removed from coastal areas — a decision that proved both traumatic and life altering for the internees. But what ever happened to the homes and property seized during the internments?

Historian Dr. Jordan Stanger-Ross of the University of Victoria is studying that very question. He is researching an event that occurred between 1943 and 1945 in a section of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver that forever changed the complexion of the community. Four hundred properties were seized from their rightful Japanese-Canadian owners and sold.

“It’s one of the low points of Canadian history,” Stanger-Ross told a group of historians attending his presentation, titled “Who Bought Vancouver’s Japantown?” at the annual Canadian Historical Association meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

He says the seizures took place during a period of “racist political culture” in British Columbia. In a way, it was a form of slum clearance with the ultimate goal of placing the community back in the hands of “white” British Columbians.

“There are clearly people who envision this as an opportunity to consolidate white holding of B.C., to eradicate Japanese ownership, to realize longstanding racist goals in B.C.,” he says.

“In the case of the east end… a transfer to white ownership would have been a fashion of slum clearance, and that was part of the excitement of city aldermen about the process.”

Ironically, this transfer to white ownership didn’t totally occur.

Stanger-Ross says that the advisory board created to oversee the process of selling the seized homes usually sold to the highest bidder, regardless of the buyers’ race, thereby thwarting the goals of the provincial and federal officials who sought to create white homogeneity in the community.

The study is part of a larger project on real estate and the urban history of east Vancouver. Stanger-Ross, whose research and teaching examines the history of immigration, race, and ethnicity in Canada and the United States, hopes his study shines new light on policy and how it is implemented, taking into account the complexity of these types of events.

Posted: 30/05/2011 2:57:14 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Champlain's Dream by David Hackett FischerPulitzer-prize winning historian challenges peers to blaze new path.

Historians need to rethink the way they practice their craft, says an acclaimed American scholar who has written one of the most influential books on Samuel de Champlain in a generation.

Pulitzer-prize winning historian David Hackett Fischer was the keynote speaker at the Canadian Historical Association meetings at Congress 2011 in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

He urged a rapt audience of historians to try a “third way” of history — one that combines the old-school disciplined methods of historians such as Donald Creighton, with the second-wave of history that focused less on “great events and great men” and told stories about the lives and lifestyles average citizens.

“We need a third way forward,” he said. “There’s a power of fusion between the first two ways that can realize a greater strength by combining both of them.”

There are 6,000 Canadian scholars attending Congress 2011, including several hundred historians. For almost a week, they will be attending various sessions, where colleagues and new scholars will present papers on their research.

The Alfred G. Bailey auditorium at St. Thomas University was packed for the keynote address by Fischer, who works at Brandeis University, a private liberal arts research university in Boston.

Fischer’s latest book, Champlain’s Dream, has garnered acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. “Champlain’s Dream is a book every Canadian should own,” the National Post raved in its review.

In the book, Fischer casts new light on one of Canada’s most famous, yet mysterious explorers, by placing him in the context of his time and his place. Using ethnographic techniques, he builds a three-dimensional portrait of the man who founded Quebec City and explored much of New France.

Fischer said following his address that what impressed him most about Champlain was the explorer’s humanity. Unlike some other explorers, who came to the New World to conquer indigeneous peoples, Champlain hoped to create a new kind of co-existence based on mutual respect.

In essence, he hoped his French settlers and their Native allies and neighbours would someday become one people — “Champlain’s dream.”

“Champlain has lots to teach us,” Fischer argues. “The main idea is humanity: it’s a sympathy for others, a way of treating others, of acting in humane ways. That’s the most important thing.

Critics and academics alike have praised Fischer’s ability to write complex ideas in a highly accessible fashion. His Champlain’s Dream is no dry academic journal piece. It lives and breathes, making the reader feel as if she or he was actually alongside Champlain during his journey to the North America.

Fischer says accessibility is a key concern for him when it comes to history writing. It’s vital not only to the health of the discipline, but to reaching other people,” he said. “The great question is how to write books that people would want to read — but serious ones, good ones.”

Posted: 30/05/2011 9:35:27 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Are you a war bride? Or is someone you know, or are related to? If so, then we want your stories. This fall, we will feature a special article on Canada's war brides -- the brave women who married Canadian servicemen and moved to Canada to begin a new life in a strange and foreign land.

We'd love to share your stories and photos with our readers.

In the coming weeks, we'll be creating a special web link for you to post your stories and photos. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Ed.: The form is now posted and can be found at CanadasHistory.ca/WarBrides.

Posted: 13/04/2011 9:44:02 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
MagEdiLetDec282010a-(1).jpgOur April-May issue, which will soon be on its way to subscribers' mailboxes, includes the following letter from Thomas Ritchie of Ottawa, Ontario. Following the letter here are the photos he sent us of the sculptures on Parliament Building.

"The cartoon in Charles Hou’s article “Lampooning Laurier” (Laugh lines December 2010–January 2011) exemplifies the anti-German and anti-Kaiser sentiment prevalent in Canada during the First World War, sentiment that led to a new name for at least one community (Berlin became Kitchener). Another example — a wall carving on Canada’s Parliament Building in Ottawa — depicts Kaiser Wilhelm II and a German spy.

The original Parliament Building was destroyed by fire in 1916. The design of its replacement, like that of the original, is in the Gothic style of architecture. The Ottawa Citizen’s February 17, 1919, issue referred to the Vimy Ridge memorial on the building’s west wall. R.F. Fleming wrote that it portrayed “the faces of the masked German spy and the ex-Kaiser, indicative of the iniquity of the Hun and his secret hand, which Vimy Ridge heroes helped to overthrow.”

Like the cartoon with Charles Hou’s article, a part of the sculptural decoration of Canada’s Parliament Building illustrates the strong anti-German sentiment that developed in Canada in WWI."

Top: West wall Vimy memorial on the Parliament Building. Middle: Masked German spy. Bottom: The Kaiser.

MagEdiLetDec282010b.jpg

MagEdiLetDec282010c.jpg

Posted: 11/03/2011 12:51:19 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
I was pleased to see that Historian Desmond Morton of McGill is this year's winner of the Pierre Berton Award.

The award is given in recognition of exceptional achievement in popularizing Canadian history.

Dr. Morton is a long-time supporter of the History Society, and a frequent contributor to both Canada's History magazine, and most recently, our best-selling 2009 book, 100 Photos that Changed Canada.

Next week, I'll head to Ottawa with other History Society staff to celebrate the award in person with Dr. Morton, at a special ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Congratulations, Desmond!
Posted: 10/11/2010 11:04:03 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Just checked out the Winnipeg Free Press online, and was pleased to see a story related to a feature we ran in our magazine more than a year ago.

I wrote the article, Valour Sold, which was about a group of valuable Canadian war medals that were going up for auction. The medals belonged to Lt.-Col. Robert Shankland of the 43 Cameron Highlanders battalion. Shankland earned his Victoria Cross during the battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

The concern was, at the time, that the medal would be auctioned off to a foreign buyer and spirited out of the country.

Thankfully, the Canadian War Museum swooped in at the last moment to purchase the medals and keep them in Canada.

On Friday, the Manitoba Museum welcomed Shankland's medals for a special exhibition. You can read the full story here.

Posted: 01/10/2010 2:32:34 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
I've been spending a bit of time lately pondering what stories we should run in upcoming issues of the magazine.

We're four issues into the redesigned Canada's History magazine, and currently working on our December-January issue.

Do you like what you've seen so far? Are the stories balanced? Are there topics you wish you could read about, but are missing from our pages?

Drop me a line at mreid@canadashistory.ca, or leave some feedback in the forum space attached to this blog.

Canada's History is your magazine, after all, and we want to hear from you.
Posted: 30/09/2010 4:04:26 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

There's an old saying — don't judge a book by its cover.

However, the truth is — in the magazine world — the cover matters. And behind the scenes, a lot of thought goes into picking the cover for Canada's History.

Our covers generally feature one main story and image, with other stories promoted across the top or bottom of the page.

It all starts with a conversation about which stories might make good  "cover stories."

Much depends on the art that is available. Sometimes, an award-winning article, by its very nature, might have rather mundane photos or illustrations. And sometimes, articles such as photo essays are driven by the art, and would make fantastic covers.

Eventually, art director Michel Groleau heads to the "kitchen" to start something brewing.

He then comes back with several options for covers, and the debate begins.

The cover choices are narrowed, until finally we pick a design. Then the tweaking begins — trying different headline and sub-headline combinations, different colour schemes, etc., until voilà!

Well, now we want to let you join the conversation.

Starting with the December-January issue, we will post on our website sample cover "contenders" that we ourselves are debating.

Cast your vote for the cover you prefer. I can't guarantee it will be the one we choose, but we do cherish your feedback.

Posted: 27/09/2010 10:50:14 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

Mark Reid Participates in the 2010 Terry Fox Run from Canada's History on Vimeo.


Well, I managed to run the 10 kilometres without requiring a stretcher!

I finished the Terry Fox run last Sunday in a time of 1:03:46 -- not bad for an old guy like me.

Most importantly, I managed to raise close to $200 for cancer research. Hopefully, by doing our part, we can all be part of finding the cure for cancer.
Cheers!
Mark
Posted: 20/09/2010 4:20:32 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

If you recall, I spent about two months on the road last fall, promoting our then-new book, 100 Photos that Changed Canada.

During the book tour, I gave countless media interviews and did a presentation on the book at seven cities, at my hometown highschool, and even my alma mater, the University of King's College in Halifax.

At every stop, people would ask me which photo was my favourite, and each time, I would answer: Terry Fox.

Well, it's now time for me to put my money where my mouth is.... two Sundays from now, I'll be running the Terry Fox run in Winnipeg -- skinny white legs and all. It's a 10-km run, and I can honestly admit that I haven't run 10 kilometres in at least 20 years -- at least, not all at one time....

To me, Terry Fox is at the top of the list for inspiring Canadians. Running to honour his memory, and hopefully, helping to someday cure the terrible disease that claimed his life, is the least I can do.

Wish me luck!
Mark

P.S.
If you want to read the original 2008 magazine essay on Terry Fox that helped inspire the 100 Photos book, click here.
 

Posted: 08/09/2010 12:40:23 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

“Look, I’ve wiped more liquor off my chin than those other fellas drank, now you want to believe that.”
— Charlie Chamberlain, vocalist, Don Messer and the Islanders, 1969.

With his trademark bowler hat and his silky smooth tenor, Charlie Chamberlain (see image below) was the unmistakable voice of the group Don Messer and his Islanders.

A CBC biography of Chamberlain describes him as Messer’s “hard-living, hard-drinking sidekick.” He certainly did like the occasional swig. Unfortunately, Chamberlain passed away in 1972 at the age of 61.

As I was only nine months old at the time, my memories of Don Messer’s troupe are largely limited to the few black-and-white reruns I remember seeing on CBC television during my childhood. However, I recently discovered an online video clip of Charlie and the rest of Messer’s band that offers great insights into the man and his music.

The movie, just two minutes and six seconds long, is titled Canada Vignettes: Don Messer — His land and his music — Charlie Chamberlain 1911-1972 Pt. 1. It was made for the National Film Board in 1969 to capture Messer’s farewell tour. The long-running CBC TV program Don Messer’s Jubilee had just been cancelled, and there’s a definite air of sadness in the documentary; for Chamberlain and his mates, it’s the end of the line.

One of my favourite scenes shows Charlie reminiscing about sharing smokes and booze at barn dances: “Two dollars a gallon — and you got a gallon of that between the four of ya — you went to a dance with a package of tailor-made cigarettes and you were a millionaire, mister. Everybody was all around ya.”

Now, I could try to describe Chamberlain’s Irish-by-way-of-New Brunswick lilt, his bear-like frame, and his leprechaun grin. But the truth is, there are some stories that are better seen and heard, rather than told.

September is Canadian Country Music Month, and we’re exploring our rich country music legacy with Charlie’s video, as well as those of groundbreaking pioneers like Hank Snow and Wilf Carter and superstars like Anne Murray and Shania Twain. We also have a country music timeline starting in 1918.

Enjoy!


 

Posted: 01/09/2010 8:20:08 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Posted: 01/08/2010 4:42:40 PM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments
Posted: 14/07/2010 10:46:20 AM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments

The "Caledonia," first square-rigged vessel on the Great Lakes

The "Caledonia," first square-rigged vessel on the Great Lakes


As a history buff, I love historical mysteries that needsolving. And when The Beaver magazine is the key to solving the puzzle, all the better!

 That's the situation today at Lake Erie, or rather, should I say, under Lake Erie, as officials debate whether to raise a finely preserved shipwreck that could be an important vessel from the War of 1812.

The story, "Legal battle brews over War of 1812 shipwreck," was written by a former colleague of mine, Randy Boswell, of Canwest News Service.

In it, Randy details the controversy surrounding the shipwreck, which is purported to be the Canadian-built frigate Caledonia.

The Caledonia started the War of 1812 on the side of the British -- which, technically, was the Canadian side -- and wound up in 1813 on the side of the Americans after being captured by U.S. forces.

Now, this is where The Beaver comes in.

In the December 1934 issue, an article by historian George Cuthbertson details the fate of the Caledonia. Cuthbertson writes that after the war, the ship eventually scrapped and "sold for firewood and old iron" in Erie, Pennsylvania.

 
 

If true, this blows out of the water the theory held by those who want to raise the wreck that the ship is indeed the Caledonia. 

A group in Buffalo wants to raise the wreck and make it the centrepiece of a new tourism destination in New York state.

As the anniversary of the War of 1812 draws nearer, controversies such as this will likely hit the news with increasing regularity as both Americans and Canadians try to find ways to commemorate the almost 200 year old conflict.

However, I predict that doing so will pose a challenge for both sides of the border, largely because the actual war doesn't fit into an easily digested black-and-white scenario.

I have just started researching the war in order to prepare for a special issue of Canada's History magazine that will focus on the War of 1812.

In fact, yesterday, I finished a book on the subject by Jeremy Black, titled "The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon."

I was struck by how the war was really a series of half-victories, punctuated by missed opportunities on both sides. It really was a conflict in which both sides regularly found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It's also a war of what-ifs: what if England had not been embroiled in a battle against Napoleon at the time of the War of 1812,  and had been able to bring the full weight of its army and navy to bear on the Americans?

Would the United States today only be a shadow of itself, comprised of the original 13 colonies and a handful of others in the southeast?

What if the British had pushed harder to win for their native allies the creation of a new "Indian Country" centred around the southern Great Lakes region.

The British had hoped this new nation would give natives a common homeland, and also would box in the Americans, preventing them from flooding westward in search of new lands to conquer. Sadly, for the natives at least, this demand was dropped from the Treaty of Ghent that brought the war to an end.

As for the Americans, what if they actually had believed in maintaining a strong regular army after the War of Independence, rather than trying to capture Canada with poorly trained militias who often refused to fight outside of their home states?

Imagine what Canada would look like today if a powerful, professional American army have swept over the St. Lawrence and captured Quebec and Montreal during the War of 1812? 

In Randy's story, he mentions that that Caledonia played a role in smashing the Royal Navy's fleet on the Great Lakes.

That's true.

But it's also true that the Americans were no match for the Brits on the high seas. The Royal Navy dominated the oceans, while the Americans held the lakes.

Just another stalemate in a war of stalemates.

With the Beaver at the centre of the upcoming court case involving the Caledonia, we'll certainly be watching with interest here at Canada's History. 

I'm sure, as we get closer to the anniversary date, that this won't be the last time that Canadians and Americans go to "war" over the War of 1812.

One of the great joys of working at the Canada's History Society.

Posted: 25/06/2010 9:17:25 AM by MARK REID | with 1 comments
Posted: 19/06/2010 4:34:23 PM by TANJA HUTTER | with 0 comments
When we relaunched our magazine in April, one of the new departments we included was called Brush Strokes. It is meant to showcase the wealth of Canadian art, as well as tell the stories behind the paintings and the painters who created them.

In October, the painting we will be featuring is called To Prince Edward Island, by Maritime artist Alex Colville.

I'm sure you have seen it -- it shows a woman on a ferry to Prince Edward Island, watching something through a pair of binoculars.

The painting prompted me to take a voyage of a sort down memory lane, back to 1997, when I had the honour of being a passenger on the last ferry to ever sail between Cape Tormentine, N.B., and Borden, P.E.I.

It was the M.V. Abegweit, and the occasion was the opening of the Confederation Bridge to PEI. 

The only other passengers were the crew, past and present captains of the ship, and their families. 

It was a somewhat sad and poignant voyage. The Confederation Bridge represented progress, I suppose, but there was something romantic about the ferry service. I went to college in Charlottetown for a year, and remember racing for the ferry on countless occasions. You aways got a bit of a thrill when you "just" made the last boat... and trust me, your heart sank if you "just" missed it.

Riding the ferry was an adventure - in both the good and bad senses of the word. I remember being aboard the ferry in the middle of winter, and having our ship almost collide with an oncoming ferry. We were both following a narrow seam in the sea ice, and the floes began pushing both ships toward each other.

As we neared, both captains sounded their warning horns. When the ships passed, I swear we were only metres apart. I still recall the fearful looks of the passengers who peered back at us from the other ship's windows as we slipped by each other in the stormy winter night.

I loved the sea breeze that always blew in the middle of the Northumberland Strait. I even loved the cafeteria food, and the slightly oily smell of the holding area where the passengers parked their cars.

I'll never forget my first ride on the the Confederation Bridge either, but largely, because of the feeling of being underwhelmed. The concrete guards along either side are extra high to shield cars from the buffeting winds, but they also prevent you from enjoying the views for most of the journey.

It takes mere minutes now to cross the "Fixed Link."

P.E.I. no longer seems, to me at least, to be a distant, exotic destination. Don't get me wrong. It's still beautiful. But it is also just like the rest of the provinces now. The mystique and mystery of "The Island" is gone. And that's a bit of a shame.


Posted: 15/06/2010 10:21:08 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

Today I bid farewell to an old friend. Well, we have only known each other for roughly eight weeks -- but it feels like its been much longer.

Of course, I'm referring to the latest issue of the magazine! It was sent to the printer this morning -- and, as usually, I have mixed feelings.

I'm proud of our latest issue; it has great feature articles, including a rollicking tale of piracy on the East Coast, as well as great departments (hockey fans will especially like Brushstrokes, which examines the famous goalie painting, At the Crease).

However, the mixed feelings come in because it is sometimes tough to let go of an issue. Every eight weeks, we are forced to literally "turn the page" and move on to the next issue in the lineup.

To be honest, it's been a whirlwind of activity here at Canada's History over the past year. In the past 12 months, we redesigned and relaunched the magazine, complete with a new name; we did the same to our websites; we published a nationally best-selling book, 100 Photos that Changed Canada, as well as a special edition of a new magazine, called Teaching Canada's History.

When you work on an issue, you can immerse yourself in the daily rhythms of publishing. The first few weeks are all about editing, editing, editing. Then comes the search for images -- art and photos and illustrations that will help make the stories come alive.

Then it's time to ship the stories to our talented art director, Michel Groleau, who works in our Montreal bureau.

Suddenly, I arrive at work to find his designs in my inbox -- signalling the start of the back-and-forth creative process of transforming designs into finished layouts.

One of the last things we do here is pick a cover -- which can be a unique challenge, when we do this by committee, and everyone has their own preferences and personal aesthetic!

The last week or so is all about the details - checking spellings, fixing captions, correction errors, hoping that we caught them all.

And then.... poof.... the magazine is gone, and all you're left with is a cluttered desk piled with papers that need sorting, and the incessant hammering of the roadworks jackhammer crew outside your Winnipeg office window!

In a way, it feels a bit like being in a time machine. As you, the reader receives your copy of the June-July issue, we have just sent the August-September edition to the printer, and are about to start the eight-week journey toward October-November!

Anyhow, they say its not the destination, but the journey that matters -- and here at Canada's History, we believe our magazine is a journey worth taking. 
Thanks for listening...

Mark

Posted: 11/06/2010 2:58:12 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Suddenly, after several days of rushing from venue to venue on the Concordia Campus, I find myself sitting down to write my final blog instalment.

My conference ended with a session on political biography, featuring four panelists -- among them, famed writer Peter C. Newman, and John English, the editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and recently, the author of a biography of Pierre Trudeau.

It was remarkable to listen to the panel, particularly these two senior members of the panel, as they recounted insiders' stories of the lives of the politicians whom we know consider the giants of 20th century politics -- Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and John Diefenbaker.

In a way, however, it made me lament the end of the days of almost unlimited access to our political leaders.

There's an anecdote I like to tell about sitting in the newsroom of the Calgary Herald, back when I was a news reporter. I was a young man, and I was complaining about the layers of PR that I had to cut through to even reach someone at the Calgary Police Service for comment.

A longtime city editor, and one of my mentors in the newsroom came by and regaled me of tales of what it was like when he was a cub reporter. Decades ago, he would start his day by heading down to the Police Chief's office, where, unannounced, he would sit in the chief's office and the two would share shots of scotch and ponder who might have really killed the victim of whatever murder the force was investigating at the time.

How times have changed. Today, biographers face diminishing access to politicians, and also, with the advent of email, the disappearance of the lengthy, and often telling, correspondences that past biographers relied upon to gain insights into their subjects.

One of the panelists, Adam Chapnick, said he feels political biography has a bright future, particularly because of the public's continuing appetite for it.

The question is, with all these challenges facing them, will tomorrow's biographers be able to feed this appetite?

Anyhow, with this post, my conference comes to an end. I fly home tonight, and hopefully, will have photos and audio from my interviews available on the website in the coming days.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Cheers,
Mark

Posted: 01/06/2010 3:46:36 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Is it possible to accurately tell a history story on film, and and have it also be engaging and entertaining to viewers?

What about in a theatre setting? When historians collaborate with actors, directors, cinematographers and others, is the final project a reflection of compromise, or does one participant's vision have to ultimately rule?

This morning, I managed to fit in two separate presentations, each dealing with history on film, or more accurately, historians participating in filmmaking.

The first presentation was a round table, titled "Theatre, History, Storytelling."

Participants came from the full spectrum -- there were historians who acted or act as consultants to theatre companies, historians who have had their works adapted into films, as well as directors, and playwrights, who are both tasked in their own ways with interpreting history and presenting it in a fashion that engages their audience.

Tough questions were raised.

What is the role of the historian? To ensure accuracy in the details of the history displayed in the production?

What if the movie or play is a revisioning of something like Macbeth, and the director wants to move the time period several centuries into the future to "update it" for the audience? Does a historian argue that this destroys the accuracy of the piece? Or are they really there to ensure authenticity -- that the work is true to the intentions of the person who first produced it?

The second session, titled Film and Public Memory, explored the way film can help us understand our understanding, and in some cases, misunderstanding, of the way we think we understand the past. (Now that's a mouthful!)

The bottom line for both presentations? That film is an extremely complicated medium in which to tell a history story, raising many questions for both the people who make them, and the audience that views them.

Thankfully, many historians are up to the challenge.

Posted: 01/06/2010 11:27:23 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Cue the drum roll.... and the winners are...Okay, so let's step back, just even for the sense of maintaining suspense.

The Montefiore Club, located on Rue Guy in Montreal's forest-fire-smoke-shrouded downtown, was packed with some of the brightest historical minds in the country. Mingling, chatting, drinking red and white wine, they were all wondering who would take away the 18 prizes to be handed out later in the night.

The evening's event was to be extra special, because the rarest prize in Canadian history -- the Francois-Xavier Garneau Medal -- was also slated to be awarded. This award is only offered every five years, and goes to the book that displays "exceptional merit" in the preceding five-year period.

MC Peter Gossage, a historian at Concordia University got things started around 7 p.m. Waiting in the wings was the house band, who, rumour has it, includes Gossage's brother as a band member.

Amid camera flashes and rounds of applause, the awards began. Here are the winners, beginning with the three main awards:
 
* Francois-Xavier Garneau Medal, awarded once every five years for the best history book published during that time period: John Weaver, for his 2003 book, "The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650-1900.

* Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, for best book on Canadian history: Beatrice Craig, for "Backwoods Consumers and Homespun Capitalists: The Rise of a Market Culture in Eastern Canada.

* Wallace K. Ferguson Award, for the best book not focused on Canadian history: Luke Clossey, for "Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions.

Other award winners:
* CHR Prize for Best Article: Mary Ellen Kelm
* Eugene A. Forsey Prize: Arnaud Bessiere.
* Neil Sutherland Biennial Article Prize: Ellen Boucher.
* History of Sexuality Prize: Patrick Dunae.
* Hilda Neatby Prize:
-- English language, Shirley Tillotson.
-- French Language, Elise Detellier.
* Canadian Aboriginal History Book Prize: Shirleen Smith and Erika Tiza, representing Vuntut Cwitchin First Nation.
*Journal of Canadian Historical Association Prize
-- Vol. 1: Michael Gauvreau;
-- Vol. 2, Jane Sampson.
*John Bullen Prize: Amelie Bourbeau.
* Clio Atlantic, Beatrice Craig
* Clio B.C.: Becki L. Ross.
* Clio North: Liza Piper
* Clio North: William Morrison.
* Clio Ontario: Sharon Wall.
* Clio Prairies: Royden Loewen and Gerald Friesen.
* Clio Quebec:  Eric Bedard.

So there you have it. As I type this, the historians are partying the night away in Le Belle Province. Tomorrow, however, it's back to work, with more presentations as Congress wraps its final day.

I recorded fantastic interviews with both John Weaver and Beatrice Craig; they both speak eloquently about what inspired them to write their books, and what messages or insights they hoped to pass on to their respective readers. These will both be on the podcast when I return to Winnipeg.
Thanks for reading, and bonne nuit!
Mark





Posted: 31/05/2010 7:25:30 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
As I write this, most members of the Canadian Historical Association are making their way to the ritzy Montefiore Club for the association's annual award gala.

Tonight, the CHA will announce the winner of the coveted Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, given out to the best academic history book of the past year.

I'll be there to cover the gala, and will be getting a podcast interview with the winner that I will be posting once I return to Winnipeg.

In the meantime, come one back here later tonight, when I update my blog with the announcement of the winner.
Cheers
Mark

Posted: 31/05/2010 4:25:30 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
The Canadian Historical Association had its annual general meeting this afternoon, and the association invited a special guest speaker to address the assembled academics.

Dr. Daniel Caron told the association that Library and Archives is trying to grapple with a major issue that we are all facing - how do you preserve information when the technology we use to collect it and keep it is changing, seemingly on a daily basis?

I have been to the LAC's preservation centre in Gatineau, Quebec on several occasions. I am amazed each time I tour the facility, especially when I head to the area where audio files are kept. Picture a room that looks like a scene out of time - there are eight-track players, casette tape players, as well as record players for LPs, 45s, and even ancient technology that plays the earliest known forms of musical playing technology.

Now we have CDs .... and digital mp3s, and even now, thanks to Apple, things are m4as....

Imagine trying to keep pace with these changes -- even more, imagine trying to pay the cost of keeping pace!

This is of immense concern for historians, many of whom make LAC their second home when they are researching primary sources.

"Our biggest challenge is: how to preserve digital documents," Caron said.

During a Q and A session, some academics challenged Dr. Caron to work harder at improving service at the LAC office, and questions were raised about digitizing archival material, so academics and others - read, people like you and me -- can more easily access the vital documents, files and other items that make up our shared heritage.

Dr. Caron ended his speech to a round of polite applause, but also a friendly reminder -- historians  want to work with LAC to overcome these future challenges, but they also expect to be involved in the solutions and consulted every step of the way.
Posted: 31/05/2010 4:15:06 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments

Imagine trying to co-ordinate the largest meeting of academics of multiple disciplines -- in the world.

That equals more than 9,000 academics from every discipline in the broad spectrum of humanities, arts and social sciences.

Well, that's the job that Dr. Ronald Rudin has been tasked with -- and so far, it is has been a great success. Dr. Rudin teaches history at Concordia University, which is hosting the annual Congress that I am attending in Montreal.

I sat down with him today to chat about the logistical challenges of hosting such an event, and also, the great opportunities it provides for academics from different disciplines to come together and learn from each other.

He says it is important to make the conference accessible to the general public. He also says academics should reach out to the larger community of Canadians.

He believes that the public has a right to know what is being discussed in the ivory tower, so to speak, and that, as taxpayers, they should also be included and interested in broader discussions surrounding post secondary institutions.

Listen to my full interview here:

Posted: 31/05/2010 11:11:06 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
I read with sadness today of the passing of Duff Roblin, the former Manitoba Premier who fought for the creation of the floodway that protect Winnipeg from the ravages of the Red River.

While he will be forever remembered in the province and across Canada as one of the ley figures in modern Canadian history, we at the history society remember him also as a great friend to history.

Mr. Roblin was a member of our Advisory Council, and he will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family and friends.
Posted: 31/05/2010 11:08:13 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
Morning dawns in Montreal over a smoke shrouded city. More than 24 forest fires in Quebec, many burning out of control, have sent a dense pall of smoke into the city this morning.

Looking out of my hotel window, I could barely makeout the outlines of skyscrapers through the hazy clouds.

Nonetheless, the show, or in this case, the Congress, must go on.

On tap today -- a presentation on the importance of storytelling in history, an interview with the president of the Congres, more presentations in the afternoon and then tonight, the Canadian Historical Associations Annual gala.

I will report on the gala later tonight, once the festivities are over.

Until then, keep thinking historically!
Mark
Posted: 31/05/2010 7:17:36 AM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
So.... after a busy day of listening to historians debating their craft, I decided to relax by taking in a movie about, yep, you guessed it -- history.

Well, it was supposed to be history. The movie was Robin Hood, by director Ridley Scott, and starring Russel Crowe.

The movie purported to be the origin story of the legendary Robin Hood, and as a visual experience, it was shot well, and the scenery was beautiful.

But, as history, well, it was sadly lacking.

I think the biggest crime in the film was that it forgot it was telling the "story" of Robin Hood. It was as if Scott became fixated on depicting battle scene after battle scene, and totally forgot to flesh out his character of Robin Hood into a three dimensional, living, breathing Englishman worthy of our emotional investment.

Why do I mention this? Well, ironically enough, the focus of the History Congress I am attending over the next few days is, of all things, "telling stories."

To me, the key to keeping history alive is in the quality of the storytelling. Facts alone do not inspire future generations to remember history. It requires a storyteller's skill to weave facts and narratives into something more powerful than mere dates and events.

From what I've seen so far at the conference, there are a lot of historians who are getting this -- and this is a good thing for all history buffs.
Posted: 30/05/2010 11:46:50 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
What a fantastic couple of days. I have just finished the first official day of presentations at the 2010 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which is being held in Montreal at Concordia University.

Events got started unofficially on Saturday, when I attended a day of special seminars on Oral History.

During the day, I was able to sit in on a terrific seminar with Eve-Lyne Cayouette-Ashby, who spoke about Concordia's Montreal Life Stories Project, a groundbreaking project that relates the lives and stories of Montrealers. She also spoke about the challenges of interviewing subjects who have undergone terrible traumas, be it wars, genocides, or other violence.

In the coming days, I will be creating podcasts based on the audio interviews I have conducted, and will be conducting, with Cayouette-Ashby and other academics.

On Sunday, I spoke with academics engaged in studying the power of graphic novels (comics, to some) to tell history. It was really interesting to see how some academics are telling history through an art form once thought only to be the domain of kids. In fact, studies are showing that graphic novels may be a great way to introduce history to younger audiences.

On Sunday night, I attended the keynote speech by renowned oral historian Dr. Joy Parr of the University of Western Ontario.

She gave a powerful presentation that asked very difficult questions regarding the motivations, and indeed, the ultimate goals, of oral historians. Why do they do the interviews they do? What should they do when confronted by subjects that are unwilling to recount particularly painful memories? Should they push forward, aggressively seeking out the anecdotes they want? Or are they simply there to observe, to facilitate discussions for their subjects.

Parr has considerable experience interviewing subjects about the Home Children controversy, in which children from poor economic circumstances in Britain were sent to Canada and other outposts of the Empire to act as labourers or servants for their new "families."

The stories they told, of abuse and considerable hardship, were often difficult to deal with.
"I was interviewing people carry a considerable burden of pain," she told a packed audience on Sunday night.

Her speech on the complexities of interviewing "vulnerable" populations was thought-provking, and perhaps even a bit polarizing. One of the key messages she gave is that she is not in favour of pushing subjects to reveal darker or more painful memories.  Some scholars have argued that the interviewer has a duty to seek out these stories, but Parr questioned what justification there is to do this, especially when doing so might cause emotional harm to the subject.
"Do we need to write anything?" she said, adding that too often "we keep a loose tether on our right to harvest pain."

Certainly provocative stuff.

Stay tuned over the coming days as I blog more about the sessions I am attending. When I return to Winnipeg, I will put together a package of podcast interviews, and photos from the conference, for you to digest. Until then, take care.
Cheers
Mark
Posted: 30/05/2010 6:02:42 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
 I was saddened today to read about the death of Marianna O'Gallaher, the Quebec historian who detailed the many contributions that Irish immigrants made to Quebec Society.

I was fortunate to work with Marianna in 2008. She wrote a fantastic article for us on Grosse Ile for the Quebec at 400 special anniversary issue.

She had a great sense of humour and a real passion for her Irish heritage, and the Irish heritage of Quebec. 

Her dedication and enthusiasm will be missed by many. You can read more about Marianna here.
Posted: 27/05/2010 2:09:29 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
 I was saddened today to read about the death of Marianna O'Gallaher, the Quebec historian who detailed the many contributions that Irish immigrants made to Quebec Society.
I was fortunate to work with Marianna in 2008. She wrote a fantastic article for us on Grosse Ile for the Quebec at 400 special anniversary issue.
She had a great sense of humour and a real passion for her Irish heritage, and the Irish heritage of Quebec. 

Her dedication and enthusiasm will be missed by many. You can read more about Marianna here.
Posted: 27/05/2010 2:09:29 PM by MARK REID | with 0 comments
 I was happy to see a story online today about Sable Island's wild pony population finally getting official protection. We wrote about this issue in a recent edition of Canada's History, but it wasn't clear at the time when the decision will be made. Read all about it here.
Posted: 18/05/2010 11:12:52 AM by | with 0 comments

Just read a news item saying that relatives can't decide whether they want the Nova Scotia government to declare a day honouring the legacy of Viola Desmond, the Canadian civil rights icon.

Desmond is a woman from New Glasgow, N.S., who became embroiled in a court case that was spurred on by racism in the 1940s.

Dean Jobb, a professor of journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, profiled Desmond in the April-May 2009 issue of our magazine.

Hopefully both sides will work out their differences, because if anyone deserves a day named after them, it's Desmond.

To read the full story, click here

Posted: 06/05/2010 8:44:08 AM by | with 0 comments



Jessie Aberhart’s Heavenly Hash

1/3 kilogram of graham-wafer crumbs
1/3 kilogram of miniature marshmallows
¼ kilogram marachino cherries
two cups walnuts
one can sweetened condensed milk
sprinkling of icing sugar

Combine ingredients in medium sized pan, and then pop into the freezer. Enjoy!

This recipe was concocted in the 1920s by Jessie Aberhart, wife of William “Bible Bill” Aberhart (premier of Alberta from 1935–43), in the interest of fattening up a young Ernest Manning (premier of Alberta from 1943–68). Author Brian Brennan describes the recipe in his 2008 book “The Good Steward,” a biography of Ernest Manning.

To learn more about “The Good Steward,” go to BrianBrennan.ca/writings.html (ed: link revised September 9, 2011).

Posted: 08/04/2010 11:27:34 AM by | with 0 comments
 
Posted: 23/03/2010 9:21:04 PM by | with 0 comments

John Cabot and David Thompson, though born centuries apart, shared common traits. They were businessmen who used exploration to gain advantages over their competitors. They also shared the courage to go beyond the edges of the map, to push back the horizon that had constrained previous generations.

Exploration today is far easier than it was back then. Crossing the Atlantic used to take weeks in a tall ship. The journey is now measured in hours by plane. Pleasure cruises now ply the frozen waters of the Northwest Passage, passing by the cairns and bones of dead explorers. Even the summit of Mount Everest is accessible for people who are relatively fit — and well-off.

For decades, The Beaver magazine has chronicled the exploits of the explorers who increased our understanding of Canada. And so we thought it was only fitting to focus on explorers as we begin our new journey as Canada’s History magazine.

In this issue, two of our greatest explorers — David Thompson and John Cabot — are the subjects of major features. We also bring you the story of courageous Aboriginal men who in 1710 crossed the Atlantic to visit the strange homeland of the European newcomers. And we present the story of a modern-day conflict over a river with a rich historic legacy.

In our inaugural issue, we introduce new departments and new columnists. And the magazine itself has been redesigned.

New items include: “Timeline,” a visually driven look at key moments in Canadian history; “Brushstrokes,” in which we feature a historic painting and tell the stories behind the image and of the artist who created it; and “Laugh lines,” a spotlight on editorial cartoons from the past.

We are proud of The Beaver’s ninety-year legacy, as well as our ongoing relationship with the Hudson’s Bay Company. That’s why we created “Trading Post,” a new department that highlights stories from The Beaver from thirty, sixty, and ninety years ago and also presents the history behind artifacts from the HBC fur trade.

For those of you who enjoy engaging commentary, we have added two new columnists to our roster of writers. Joining regular and long-time columnist Christopher Moore are historian Tina Loo of the University of British Columbia (page 49), and best-selling non-fiction author Ken McGoogan,who will appear in the June-July issue.

Some changes have been made to enhance the readability of the magazine. The editor’s note, for instance, has moved deeper into the magazine to make room foran improved contents listing.

And for even more Canadian history, visit CanadasHistory.ca, our dynamic new online portal. It features a host of content — much of it exclusive to the website — including podcasts, video blogs, breaking history news,photo galleries, and even a Canada’s History Photo Club for avid camera buffs.

Much has changed here at Canada’s History,but our commitment to telling Canada’s stories remains as strong as ever. So please, do explore your new magazine. We hope you enjoy it.

Posted: 11/03/2010 10:22:01 AM by | with 0 comments

“This is a ‘journal of progress’ in every sense.” — Clifton Thomas, founding editor of The Beaver, October 1920.

The cover of this issue depicts a scene from Nanook of the North — considered the world's first feature-length documentary film. The image shows Nanook — played by a Canadian Inuit man named Allakariallak — with his arm cocked and ready to hurl a harpoon at his prey.

Shot by American moviemaker Robert J. Flaherty, the film captivated audiences around the world after it debuted in 1922. Released two years after the founding of The Beaver in 1920, Nanook, like The Beaver, offered a window on a world most Canadians would never witness first-hand.

Viewers obviously connected with Nanook's realistic vision of life in the Canadian North, just as they yearned for the stories found in The Beaver.

Launched as an internal newsletter of the Hudson's Bay Company, The Beaver: A Journal of Progress soon outgrew its modest aspirations. By the 1930s, it had a large following among many non-HBC employees and was relaunched as The Beaver: A Magazine of the North.

Over the next few decades, The Beaver carried a fascinating mélange of travelogues, photo essays, book reviews, and news from the North. It featured history stories, too, but for much of its existence The Beaver was not a history magazine. It was, as the founding editor stated in the inaugural issue, a “journal of progress,” with eyes clearly focused on both the present and the future.

Over time, our vision of, and fascination with, the North, changed.

With the Arctic no longer inaccessible, old ways of life fell to the wayside. Spears were replaced by rifles, dogsleds by snowmobiles. As the nation moved forward, we increasingly looked backwards, reminiscing about the stories and people who came before us. The magazine was no different. And so we redefined ourselves again, this time as The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine.
 
This issue will be our last as The Beaver. Beginning in April, we will begin a new journey as Canada's History. It is more than just a name change — it's a reaffirmation of who we are and what we do. While born of the fur trade, the magazine's mission today is to tell the stories of all Canadians.

As we take this bold next step, I think back to the words of Clifton Thomas and the well-thumbed copy of that first issue of The Beaver that sits on my desk. Under the title “We Make Our Bow,” Thomas promised readers he would endeavour to make The Beaver a worthy journal of the HBC.

“Whether it measures up to this lusty ambition is not for The Beaver to say, but for you, the readers to judge,” Thomas wrote. “Thumbs up or down, The Beaver craves your indulgence — to remember that it has not yet found its legs, the first issue being largely an introduction.”

Like Thomas, we also crave your indulgence as we embark on our new journey as Canada's History. We will endeavour to make the magazine vibrant, intelligent, and relevant, while never forgetting where we came from. At Canada's History, we will hold true to the legacy of The Beaver and continue to be a “journal of progress.”

Posted: 01/02/2010 2:26:09 PM by | with 0 comments
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