Message from the Chair
As crisis calls Canadians together during this COVID-19 pandemic, we turn to history for inspiration.
We remember the dedication of Canadian physicians who fought to save patients a century ago, working to levels of exhaustion and their own loss of life during the influenza pandemic of 1918–20. This experience affected families and communities everywhere and led to the creation of a new national health department to manage valued resources during future public health crises.
We recall the resilience and determination of Canadian researchers — including Frederick Banting, Charles Best and their team — who discovered a dramatic new treatment for diabetes in 1921. Thanks to their efforts and ingenuity, insulin today helps millions of people worldwide to control their disease.
Throughout the past, when things seemed most dark, Canadians have always found a way.
Consider the Second World War, which ended seventy-five years ago this September. Canada and its allies stepped up on all fronts and over many years to defeat fascism. The risk was enormous, and the challenges were daunting. But Canadians persevered.
History abounds with stories of dedication, resolve, and resilience. We also see that today, as Canadians respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We see teachers, students, and parents embracing new technologies and new ways of earning. We see companies and communities finding new ways to unite Canadians despite the realities of physical distancing.
History tells us that there is hope for whatever the future might throw our way.
As we head into the fall of 2020, Canada’s History Society will continue to share the inspiring stories of Canadians, both past and present. It is encouraging that continued community collaboration is at the forefront of our new reality, with technology bringing us together as never before.
Wishing you good health, shared stories of united experience, and enduring inspiration.
Celebrating Canada’s History Makers
On January 20, 2020, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette presented the Governor General’s History Awards. In her opening remarks, Her Excellency emphasized the importance of history, saying, “Without understanding our past, we cannot make sense of the present, and we can’t build a better future.”
The day prior, the recipients presented their award-winning work at the Canada’s History Forum, held at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. This year’s forum, “Small Stories, Big Ideas” explored the idea that a single story can compel us to explore larger themes and concepts in Canadian history.
The annual History Makers Gala, sponsored by TD Bank Group, was a night of celebration for the whole history community. In addition to honouring the award recipients, the theme of the gala, In Good Company, marked the 350th anniversary of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
The opening reception, sponsored by Power Corporation of Canada, featured lively Metis-style music by local group Fiddleground. As guests moved into the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History, they were treated to a spectacular evening of great food, conversation, and company. The evening ended with a moving musical performance by award-winning duo Twin Flames.
The Governor General’s History Awards include honours in five categories: teaching, scholarly research, popular media, museums, and community programming. These prestigious awards celebrate the very best in Canadian history and inspire us all to learn more about Canada’s diverse and fascinating stories.
Creating Compelling Content
The 2019 publishing year saw Canada’s History magazine continue to tell stories of peoples and groups who have for too long been pushed to the margins of official history texts.
The magazine featured a host of compelling stories, including the tale of Indigenous Toronto before European settlement; the story of how same-sex activity came to be decriminalized in the 1960s; and the biography of an Ontario woman who became Canada’s first global fashionista.
Several key anniversaries were covered by the magazine, including the one hundredth anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike and the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.
We also published a special feature package to commemorate a century of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. In the fall of 2019, Editor-in-Chief Mark Collin Reid toured the Netherlands for a story on how that country is celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of its liberation by Canadian soldiers during the Second World War.
Another article, “Old-School DIY,” published in February 2019, recently received two nominations from the National Magazine Awards for excellence in storytelling and illustration.
Canada’s History also continues to expand its reach online. For instance, the number of followers for our social media channels rose by 28.8 per cent (compared to the year previous) to 106,178 followers.
Work has begun on two special video projects that will share compelling digital history content with both students and adult Canadians across the country. And our digital content is shared widely, with more users engaging deeply with stories and videos.
Nearly a century ago, the Hudson’s Bay Company launched an in-house newsletter that sought to bring together staff in cities and towns with those working in far-flung outposts across the Northwest.
Even in 1920, however, the magazine’s editors had far greater ambitions for the publication — that’s why they subtitled it “A Magazine of Progress.” Today known as Canada’s History, the magazine continues to fulfill the legacy of what was originally named The Beaver, sharing the diverse stories of Canada and Canadians everywhere.
Throughout 2019, the editorial team researched and prepared for the creation of a commemorative issue of the magazine that will celebrate a century of The Beaver. Drawing upon The Beaver’s vast photographic archival materials, held at the Archives of Manitoba, the magazine will showcase the peoples, lands, and wildlife of the Far North.
It will also examine how the North was transformed over time as new technologies, transportation methods, and communication links connected southern Canada with its northern territories.
The editorial team continues to work on the special collector’s issue, which will be published in October 2020.
Connecting with Kids
The goal of Kayak magazine is to bring Canada’s past to life for our young readers by highlighting the fascinating people and events that have shaped our country.
We publish four print issues and one online edition in English every year; the digital edition along with one print edition is available in French.
In 2019 we extended our commitment by making all five issues available online in French. We also responded to teachers’ needs by ensuring there is classroom material on our website to go with all issues in both official languages.
As usual, the past year saw Kayak tackle a wide variety of themes, from labour history and bilingualism, to legendary ghosts and monsters, to the diversity of Canadian families. Our special digital issue explored the fur trade from a variety of perspectives.
Supporting History Education and Research
In August 2019 Canada’s History Society hosted a national meeting of history educators at the McCord Museum in Montreal. The meeting brought together teachers, researchers, and museum educators from across the country for a series of conversations about history education and programming in Canada.
Dr. Carla Peck (University of Alberta), Dr. Lindsay Gibson (University of British Columbia), and Dr. Catherine Duquette (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi) also worked with attendees on their research project, “Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future,” which recently received a seven-year partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Learning from Canada’s Young Storytellers
Young storytellers are critical to promoting a greater popular interest in our past. Through their unique lens, they share thought-provoking, creative, and engaging stories that contribute to a national conversation about Canadian history.
Our flagship youth program, Young Citizens, encourages students to transform their Heritage Fair projects into short videos for an online audience.
Since the Young Citizens program was launched in 2012, we have received more than 1,100 student videos. This collection is an incredible learning resource and a way for students to learn from their peers in different parts of the country.
In January, the winners of the 2019 Young Citizens program, along with the winners of the Kayak Kids’ Illustrated History Challenge (a program of Canada’s History Society) and the winners of the Indigenous Arts and Stories program (a program of Historica Canada), travelled to the Ottawa region for the first Canada’s Youth History Awards.
At a special ceremony in the Canadian History Hall at the Museum of Canadian History in Gatineau, Quebec, we honoured and celebrated the wonderful work of these young people.
Canada’s History By the Numbers
Percentage of readers in households with children under eighteen years old.
Number of visitors who accessed the Canada’s History Archive featuring The Beaver since its launch in late 2017.
Number of years since Canada’s History magazine was first published.
Unique visitors to CanadasHistory.ca in the past year.
Number of Governor General’s History Award recipients to date.