by Daniel Macfarlane [Originally published on the Otter]

Niagara Falls has frozen. Well, not really. The entire water flow of the famous Horseshoe Falls doesn’t actually freeze, despite ‘polar vortexes’ (more commonly known to most Canadians as ‘winter’). Water keeps flowing underneath the ice. The American Falls does occasionally dry up due to ice jams upstream (and this has happened once in recorded history to the Horseshoe Falls: see note [1]). Tourists are nonetheless flocking to see the gelid cataract – and some people are even climbing it!

Elevated view of Horseshoe Falls in Winter 2013. Daniel Macfarlane

Elevated view of Horseshoe Falls in Winter 2013. Daniel Macfarlane

Wind can send large chunks of ice from Lake Erie down the Niagara River. Ice jams at the base of the waterfalls form what are known as “ice bridges.”  In the 19th century these congealed water spans became an occasion for festivities, as the two Niagara Falls communities on either side of the international border would use them for transnational ice parties. Talk about having a drink on the rocks! [click to continue…]


Sexing Up Canada’s First World War

by Guest on March 3, 2015

By Zachary Abram

VD Poster 1Canadian cultural memory of the First World War is conspicuously asexual considering Canadians had among the highest rates for venereal disease in the British Expeditionary Force, with an infection rate that reached as high as 28.7%. [1] Anyone with a passing interest in the First World War is familiar with Trench Foot and its symptoms are synonymous with the squalor of trench warfare. Yet, only 74,711 cases of Trench Foot were treated during the entire war.[2] Venereal Disease accounted for 416,891 hospital admissions in the British Army.[3] A soldier was five times more likely to be admitted to hospital for syphilis and gonorrhea but in the popular imagination it is Trench Foot that persists. There is a reticence, perhaps the result of inherited Victorian prudery or the unwillingness to “sully the reputations” of the war dead, to discuss soldiers’ sex lives. As a result, discussions of the First World War tend to elide the bedroom in favour of the trench. [click to continue…]


Moral Goodness and Venereal Disease: Sexual Health Education in Ontario

March 2, 2015

By Krista McCracken The Ontario government recently announced significant changes to the health and physical education curriculum in Ontario schools. This revision includes updating the outdated sexual health education curriculum that hasn’t been changed since 1998. The previous curriculum was designed in an era before text messages, smart phones, and the social media. Very similar […]

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Film Friday: Tilco Striker

February 27, 2015

Active History is pleased to present our first Film Friday. If you have created a film about history and are interested in screening it on our site, drop us a line. By Matthew Hayes In the middle of winter in 1965, women workers at a plastics factory in Peterborough, Ontario went on strike. The Tilco […]

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The Home Archivist – Dust, Mold, and Adhesives, Part II

February 25, 2015

By Jessica Dunkin In the last post, I introduced readers of the Home Archivist to two institutions committed to the preservation of Canada’s documentary heritage, Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) Preservation Centre and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI), and two professionals at work in the field of paper conservation, Doris St-Jacques and Greg Hill. I […]

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An American Legion in the CEF? Crossing Borders during “Canada’s” First World War

February 24, 2015

By Chris Dickon On the American Armistice Day, November 11, 1927, the United States and Canada came together at Arlington Cemetery outside of Washington DC to dedicate a monument to Americans who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), Canada’s First World War army. The representatives that day remarked upon a feature of their shared […]

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Willkommen im Anthropozän (Welcome to the Anthropocene)

February 23, 2015

By Jim Clifford I recently visited the special Willkommen im Anthropozän exhibition at the science and technology Deutsches Museum in Munich and was very impressed by the museum’s efforts to convey the history and science of the anthropocene in a complex but accessible manner. The anthropocene thesis, introduced about fifteen years ago, argues that humans are transforming the global environment at an unprecedented scale. The Deutsches […]

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Review of Testimonies and Secrets: The Story of a Nova Scotia Family 1844-1977, by Robert M. Mennel

February 20, 2015

By Christine Moreland “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”.  Can we then ever really understand who ‘they’ were and how they lived? In Testimonies and Secrets: the Story of a Nova Scotia Family 1844-1977, Robert M. Mennel invites the reader to explore the themes of family, work and community life in […]

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Who Killed Canadian Studies?

February 19, 2015

By Colin Coates The world of Canadian Studies, which according to the International Council for Canadian Studies includes some 7,000 scholars in 70 countries, is facing difficult times. Strangely enough, one of its chief opponents seems to be our own government. Since the 1970s successive Liberal and Progressive Conservative federal governments, along with various provincial […]

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Spoils of the War of 1812: Part II: British Honour

February 18, 2015

By Alan Corbiere This post is the second part of a series of essays by Alan Corbiere focusing on Anishinaabeg participation in the War of 1812.    The Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potowatomi) have always revered the island of Michilimackinac. So much so that at the conclusion of the War of 1812, the Odawa tried to keep […]

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