Early Black Baseball Teams in Fredericton: A Sign of Community Identity, 1889-1906

by Roger P Nason

Black baseball clubs came into being across the Maritimes as early as the 1880s. Professor Colin Howell of Saint Mary’s University took a close look at their formation in his seminal work on sport history, Northern Sandlots: A Social History of Maritime Baseball, published in 1995. The evidence of Black baseball teams forming in Fredericton specifically, however, is sketchy.

Although mention of “colored” teams appearing in Woodstock and Saint John is reported in the Daily Gleanerand Saint John Daily Telegraph in the 1880s with passing reference to the Woodstock Wanderers, Saint John Royals, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Colored Baseball Club, there are few comments about the players themselves.[1]

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Guns and Conspiracy Theories in Canada

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By R. Blake Brown

Many Canadians watched with shock the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6. The mob’s besmirching of the halls of Congress was immediately recognized as a lesson in the dangers of conspiracy theories. Mixed among the alt right groups, militia members, and gun rights advocates who stormed the Capitol were many QAnon supporters who believe that the ‘deep state’ undermined the presidency of Donald Trump.

Canadians have had our own conspiracy theories, some of which continue to linger and affect our politics. One such theory is the idea that Ottawa secretly wishes to confiscate all privately held firearms, not just prohibit weapons deemed too dangerous for public use. This conspiracy theory has long roots.

In the late 1970s, for example, the National Firearms Association (NFA) responded to new gun control legislation by widely distributing a fake government memorandum ominously entitled “The Police Function in Canada as a Control and Enforcement Agency.” The NFA claimed that it had received the document from an anonymous source.

National Firearms Association president Bill Jones was a fierce opponent of gun control legislation. Source: Ottawa Journal, 26 June 1979.

The memo urged that “the Public be discretely but effectively disarmed over a period of the forthcoming five years.” Continue reading

The Diggs Family of Willow Grove and Saint John, New Brunswick

by Roger P Nason

The earliest mention of the Diggs family is Charlotte Diggs, who is listed as a grantee of lands for Black residents at Loch Lomond in 1836.[1] The 1851 Census cites Samuel and Mary Higgs living in Simonds Parish with their four children: Joseph, George, Charles, and Alexander. Likely, Samuel is Charlotte’s son.[2] Charlotte would have been a contemporary and neighbour of Eliza Taylor, who was then living with her son, Daniel. Alexander Diggs’ image as shown with Daniel Taylor in this photo from about 1900 is depicted in Canada Post’s new commemorative stamp alongside Eliza Taylor.

“Dan Taylor and Alex Diggs at Loch Lomond fair,” circa 1900. New Brunswick Museum Collection, X18354.

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Eliza Taylor: Belle of Loch Lomond

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by Roger P Nason

Canada Post just released a commemorative stamp for the community of Willow Grove, New Brunswick. Located east of the City of Saint John, it forms the core of what was the “African Settlement” set aside by the New Brunswick colonial government for Black refugees fleeing the United States during the War of 1812.

For more than twenty-five years, the new settlers fought for permanent grants to that tract of land near Loch Lomond. It was not until 1837 when seventy-four refugees were finally confirmed in their fifty-five-acre lots, which they only temporarily occupied by a special license. For many of these settlers, they struggled to exist. Most found it necessary to migrate to the city to survive at all.[1]

Eliza Taylor was one of those original Black refugees.

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I Think It’s Time For Us to Give Up Hope

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The comments here were first shared during the Canadian Historical Association’s second of three panels responding to the Precarious Historical Instructors’ Manifestoentitled, Precarious Historians, Trade Unions, and the Neoliberal University.” Along with Godefroy Desrosiers-Lauzon, Peter McInnis, Christine Gauthier, Catherine Larochelle, and Janis Thiessen, Jeremy Milloy discussed his insights on precarious academic work and working-class organizing. What follows is an edited version of his comments.

by Jeremy Milloy

When I was invited by Steven High to speak today, I was unsure what perspective I’m supposed to speak from. As Nancy Janovicek mentioned, I am a longtime precarious historian and instructor. I am also a union member. I’m a historian of work capitalism and public health. I’m also a longtime organizer, who now works full-time on climate justice issues in addition to maintaining my historical practice. There are a lot of different ways that I could come at this.

I thought it would be best for me to try and contribute insights from all of these perspectives, so I have seven things that I want to share about precarious academic work.

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History Slam Episode 178: The People of Social Work

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By Sean Graham

In this episode of the History Slam, I share the second segment of the 5-part documentary series How We Helped: Stories from Eastern Ontario Social Workers. Using first-hand accounts, the episode looks at who becomes a social worker and delves into their stories. From social workers enlisting in the army during the Second World War to leading the push to form professional organizations, this episode tries to answer two key questions: who goes into social work and what motivates them throughout their career. You can find the entire 5-part series here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Insulin and the Unessay

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This post originally appeared on Defining Moments Canada

Madeleine Mant

My greatest insecurity as I prepared to teach during Fall 2020 was how to create a sense of community in the virtual classroom for a course that had never before been delivered online. In March 2020, when the spread of COVID-19 caused a sudden pivot to online classes, camaraderie had already been built – my students and I had spent months establishing trust, laughing together, and breathing the same air. From my hastily created home office, I assured students via online announcements that we were all in this together, as we collectively refreshed our news apps again and again. We stumbled across the finish line, bemused and relieved.

While I knew that I was not going to become an expert in online pedagogy over the summer, I nevertheless devoured articles concerning MOOCs, course design, technology integration, and applying Universal Design for Learning principles to assignment building as I reimagined Anthropology of Health as an online offering. In my previous discussion, I outlined one such assignment: the unessay. This term was first introduced by Dr. Daniel O’Donnell1, who asked students to use their own framework or focus to approach a topic, to toss out the rules of essay writing, and to approach the prompt in a medium of their choosing. Speculative projects like the unessay harness students’ creativity, encouraging students to find their personal way in to an assignment. Other academics2 have written about the challenges and successes of the unessay in their classrooms, expressing their delight at the results. This semester felt like the right one to take such a risk.

Anthropology of Health is a foundational course in the innovative Anthropology of Health Stream at the University of Toronto Mississauga. This class is a prerequisite to further health-focused courses and generally attracts second-year social science students, many of whom are anthropology majors, though students with double-majors in psychology, biology, and sociology are frequent attendees. The enrollment leapt this past fall to 102 (in Fall 2019 it had been 61); this population expansion, coupled with the new online delivery fueled my desire to build flexibility into the course.

Students were presented with the following prompt, about which they could craft an unessay or tackle an academic paper:

Consider the discovery of insulin, the individuals involved, and the history of diabetes prior to and after the discovery. Select three key events, people, objects, etc. that you think best illustrate/celebrate/explain the discovery of insulin. What led to this discovery? How did this discovery change the world? Continue reading

Historia Nostra: How fake history is harmful at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw

By Erin Isaac

The Tunnels of Moose Jaw are one of Saskatchewan’s most popular tourist destinations and occupy a special place in local history and lore. Growing up as kid in Saskatchewan, I visited the Tunnels on multiple school trips and even had to do a 7th-grade book report on Mary Harelkin Bishop’s novel The Tunnels of Time (a fiction book that places the modern-day point-of-view character back in time to when the Tunnels were used by gangsters and bootleggers).

Today, the Tunnels are described as an immersive historical experience that take guests through staged tunnels with costumed cast members. The facility offers two different experiences for visitors: The Chicago Connection and Passage to Fortune.

The better-known Chicago Connection Tour takes visitors through the history of prohibition in Saskatchewan and Moose Jaw’s highly speculated upon connections to the infamous gangster, Al Capone. This tour is a lot of fun. I remember, as a kid, being brought into the action by being asked to knock a certain pattern on a door, escape a shoot-out, and interact with a cast of troublesome characters wrapped up in rum-running and the illicit liquor trade.

This high-energy, sensational experience is countered by a more recent addition to the Tunnels experience, the Passage to Fortune tour, which is more serious and somber in its delivery. Continue reading

Remember/Resist/Redraw #28: Indigenous Women, Prison Activism, and the 1983 Kent Hunger Strike

The Graphic History Collective recently released RRR #28 by Tania Willard, Sarah Nickel, and Eryk Martin. The poster looks at Indigenous political activism and the 1983 Kent Prisoner’s Hunger Strike in S’olh Temexw (Stó:lo Territory) near Agassiz, British Columbia.

We hope that Remember | Resist | Redraw encourages people to critically examine history in ways that can fuel our radical imaginations and support struggles for social change. Learn more about how you can support the project on our website, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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History Slam Episode 177: Imagining a New We

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By Sean Graham

Being in Ottawa, there are unique opportunities for engaging with Canada’s past. One of my favourite is to head to Parliament Hill to explore how the federal government has decided to commemorate Canada’s history. The monuments that surround the parliament buildings offer a pretty clear sign of what those in the halls of federal power have determined is important for Canadians to learn. Statues of Prime Ministers, monarchs, and significant political figures are not surprising to find outside the seat of government, but that these figures enjoy an exclusivity at this site sends a not so subtle message to visitors about what, and who, those in power want Canada and Canadians to value from our history.

Canada’s history goes well beyond what is represented on Parliament Hill, of course, but visiting the site is a reminder of some of the narratives that have long dominated discussions of Canada’s past. From who is included to what stories are valued, for many students (myself included) learning Canadian history meant learning about those in power. That specific focus, however, fails to recognize the diversity and complexity of Canada nor does it provide space for the millions of stories that have shaped life for people from coast to coast to coast. Fortunately, historians, teachers, educators, and community groups are re-examining the ways in which Canadians engage with the past, allowing for deeper discussions and more nuanced debates in museums, classrooms, and public spaces across the country.

Front and centre in that transformation is Samantha Cutrara, author of Transforming the Canadian History Classroom: Imagining a New ‘We’. Powerfully using personal experience, interviews, and case studies, Cutrara explores ways in which we can more effectively engage people with history. By providing space for investigation of historical narratives that influence people’s lives, there is room for diverse identities where ideas of connection, complexity, and care engender meaningful learning. And while the book is geared towards educators, it provides space for all Canadians to reflect on the past and the ways in which we think about history.

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