By Timothy Humphries
Before 2009, the Archives of Ontario had been housed in five different locations. Remarkably, not one of them provided an exhibit space. This became a must-have when a sixth location was sought in 2006. Now onsite exhibits can be created regularly to showcase the Archives’ many rich and varied collections. This requires investing significant amounts of time and thought into the design of each new exhibit. Because when it comes to creating an exhibit, there are no instructions, no templates, no cheat sheets – nothing but a blank canvas awaiting an imprint from the myriad possibilities that the imagination can conceive. This was the case for the World War I exhibit, particularly since it was the first exhibit of archival materials to be curated in-house. [click to continue…]
by Tina Adcock
On the morning of Tuesday, September 9th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced some unexpected and astounding news: that the wreckage of one of Sir John Franklin’s ships, either the Erebus or the Terror, had been located via sonar on the bottom of Queen Maud Gulf, which lies southwest of King William Island in Nunavut. In 1845, Franklin, a captain of the Royal Navy, led a crew of 128 in search of the Northwest Passage. All later died in circumstances that remain unclear to this day, despite many British, American, and Canadian searches over the last century and a half for evidence regarding the expedition’s fate. Locating one of the ships was a major triumph for the latest band of searchers, a coalition of public and private agencies led by Parks Canada that had travelled north on a near-yearly basis since 2008.
The Prime Minister declared this “a great historic event… a really important day in mapping together the history of our country.” So-called historic events provide good opportunities for historians to observe how our fellow citizens react to the history in question. I study northern exploration, and so I was more than a little interested in the reception of this particular news. Here I’d like to trace and explain one of the principal responses that emerged on conventional and social media websites that day.
My attention was caught by those who saw the announcement, and shrugged. “Who cares?” they said, in tweets and comments underneath articles. This sentiment was apparent even among groups who might be expected to care, for reasons of profession or location. Some historians and archaeologists, for example, were not particularly enthusiastic about the news:
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