Home ArchivistBy Jessica Dunkin

In the series’ inaugural post, I gave readers a brief overview of The Home Archivist, a project in which I—a professional historian—process and arrange a collection of nineteenth-century letters. The context in which a collection was produced, what archivists refer to as provenance, is central to these practices of processing and arranging historical documents. But what of the context in which the archivist themself encounters a collection? In this second post, I describe the circumstances of my introduction to the letters and the world I inhabit as I work with them. Whenever I open the box or think about the letters, I am connecting with the MacKendricks, the cottage at Windermere, and the canoeing encampments that brought us all together.

In late March 2014, I found myself kneeling on the carpeted floor of a bright sitting room in Milford, Connecticut, the Long Island Sound visible through the side window. In front of me was a dusty cardboard box that had spent much of the last century squirreled away in basements and attics, a repository for family letters. A first glance revealed deep discolouration, gouges on two sides of the box, and two labels on the top flaps. The box’s owners and my hosts, Bob and Marge MacKendrick, explained that the stains were from the fire that tore through the family home in Galt, Ontario, many years ago. There is no explanation for the gouges. They were likely sustained during one of the box’s many moves. The labels, meanwhile, indicate that The Robert Simpson Company sent Mrs. J.A. MacKendrick (Amelia) an item on September 24, 1918, and that the express charges for the shipping were pre-paid.

My relationship with this box of letters began in August 2013 at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre (Gravenhurst, Ontario) when I was introduced to the MacKendricks. [click to continue…]

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ActiveHistory.ca is featuring this post as part of  “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on ActiveHistory.ca”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War. 

By Jim Blanchard

It is well known that the adoption of conscription in Canada during the First World War was very unpopular in Quebec. Although many Quebecois volunteered to serve in the army in the first years of the war, large numbers of French Canadians disagreed with sending troops overseas when the country did not seem to be threatened.

What is less known is the fact that Canadians in the rest of the country also opposed conscription.  Winnipeg was no exception and there was a good deal of resistance in the city. [click to continue…]


How Should We Measure Climate Change? What the Past Can Tell Us

October 20, 2014

By Dagomar Degroot Last month, world leaders met at UN Headquarters in New York City for Climate Summit 2014. As protests raged across the globe, diplomats established the framework for a major climate change agreement next year. The aim will be to limit anthropogenic warming to no more than 2 °C, a threshold established by […]

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Video – Eroding Democracy: Canada’s Public Science Policy in a New Regime of Governance

October 17, 2014

On Tuesday May 27, 2014 as part of Congress 2014, a panel discussed the current government’s science policy, access to information, the ability of government scientists to communicate freely with each other, the public, and the media. This cross-disciplinary panel was jointly hosted by the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians, Canadian Population Society, Canadian […]

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Best Practices for Writing History on the Web

October 16, 2014

By Sean Kheraj As more of our reading moves from print to screens, learning how to write on the Web will become an increasingly important part of history writing skills. Just as we teach fundamental research and writing skills for print essays, we will likely begin to teach digital writing skills for the Web. Writing […]

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History Slam Episode Fifty-Three: What to Wear to the Birth of a Nation

October 15, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download By Sean Graham The story has been told thousands of time in the same way: the Fathers of Confederation met in Charlottetown and Quebec in 1864 and laid the groundwork for Confederation. These were men of vision who, according the video shown at the PEI legislature, had few […]

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Anti-War Poetry in Canadian Newspapers at the Beginning of the First World War

October 14, 2014

ActiveHistory.ca is featuring this post as part of  “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on ActiveHistory.ca”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War.  By Russ Chamberlayne The war fever has reached an acute stage. It has now attacked the poets. – “Pertinent and Impertinent,” Calgary […]

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Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada, by Vivienne Poy

October 10, 2014

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Graphic Environmentalism: An Interview with Comic Writer-Artist Steph Hill

October 9, 2014

Previous Active History posts (see here, here, and here) have examined the use of comics in telling – and interpreting – stories about the past. In this post, Ryan O’Connor (RO) interviews Steph Hill (SH), the writer-artist behind A Brief, Accurate Graphic History of the Environmental Movement (Mostly in Canada). RO: This is a really interesting […]

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Mookomaanish: The Damn Knife (Odaawaa Chief and Warrior)

October 8, 2014

By Alan Corbiere This post marks the second in a series of essays – posted the second Wednesday of each month – by Alan Corbiere focusing on Anishinaabeg participation in the War of 1812.  At the commencement of the War of 1812, the British were not totally certain that the Western Confederacy (including the Anishinaabeg: […]

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