By Sean Graham

Red Chamber

The ‘Red Chamber.’ Photo from

On Friday, the Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on whether the government can proceed with Senate reform without amending the Constitution. The decision has been a long time coming for Stephen Harper, who has expressed a strong desire to reform the Senate since he was first elected in 2006. The issue of Senate reform has been a particularly prominent issue in the past year – from the spending scandals to Justin Trudeau kicking Liberal senators out of the caucus to Conservative senators refusing to fully support the elections reform bill. The Supreme Court’s decision Friday will fundamentally shape this government’s efforts to reform the Senate moving forward. (Jonathan McQuarrie addressed the issue of Senate reform in this piece back in October)
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Image D-01635 courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

Image D-01635 courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

By Erica Landrock

 Over the past two and a half years, I’ve been working to produce a three part history series about Working People and labour history in British Columbia for BC’s non-profit broadcaster, Knowledge Network.  When my team and I began the project back in 2011, it seemed like a straightforward and easily manageable task. How hard could it be to produce a series without filming anything? Choose the stories, write the scripts, select images, edit and voila! Easy. Or so it seemed. We quickly learned there was a very fine balance between making the stories accessible and engaging for an audience, while still telling a true account of history.

The origination of the series came about in a very organic fashion. Jack Munro, a well known British Columbia labour figure was watching Knowledge Network one evening when another documentary I was involved with Edge of the World: BC’s Early Years came on the air. He liked the approach and easy access to history and thought why couldn’t we have something like that but about labour and working people? At the time, Jack was the chair for the Labour Heritage Centre, an organization that helps to bring a voice to the province’s working people. Jack contacted Rudy Buttignol, CEO of Knowledge Network, to see how one would go about getting a series like this made. Not realizing this suggestion was going to spark over two years of work, the idea was a hit and a call went out for proposals to BC’s independent filmmaking community. My team was selected and by the fall of 2011 we were underway. [click to continue…]

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Heritage Toronto Awards: Call for Nominations

April 18, 2014

The Heritage Toronto Awards celebrate outstanding contributions in the promotion and conservation of Toronto’s history and heritage by professionals and volunteers. The deadline for nominations is 4:30pm, May 16, 2014. Check out the poster below for more details.

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“And bold and adventurous amazons they were”: Colonial encounters with LGBT Indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest fur-trade

April 17, 2014

By Eric Wright An earlier version of post originally appeared on the author’s blog Actually History.  In 1814, an Irish fur-trader in the employ of the Northwest Company by the name of Ross Cox was conducting business with Indigenous people near present day Spokane, Washington when he encountered, in his eyes, a remarkable individual.  In his […]

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How Does History Help Explain Bitcoins?

April 16, 2014

By Jonathan McQuarrie Lately, Bitcoins have received considerable attention from the media. The recent failure of the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange, where users could exchange their Bitcoins for national currencies, sparked particular concern. The website managed to lose some 850,000 Bitcoins, which at the time were valued at approximately $400 million. For the last month, […]

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Old Conflicts in a New Century: The Problems of Prairie Grain Transportation

April 15, 2014

By Laura Larsen Few Canadians missed the news stories of grain piling up on the prairies and denunciations of the system’s failures. The Federal government’s recent announcement of financial penalties for the railways is the latest act in a long running problem facing western Canadian grain farmers: how to economically get their grain to market when […]

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Memory and the Built Landscape: Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage Website

April 14, 2014

By Tim O’Grady When you think of important events in your life, chances are you associate them with physical places. Whether it is your childhood home, a former school, or a family cottage or favourite vacation spot, the connection between memory and place is intangible, though very real. People are connected to the buildings in […]

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Faster Than a Speeding Canoe: ‘The Superheroes’ of the Fur Trade

April 11, 2014

By Eve Dutton There’s a certain image that the term “voyageur” conjures up in the Canadian consciousness: bearded, burly, and boastful rascals who prized their independence above all else, accomplished feats of superhuman strength and endurance, and braved the uncharted wilds with a song in their heart. This portrait of the voyageur has a long […]

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The Ethics of Active History

April 10, 2014

By Andrew Nurse One of the great innovations of the now aging “New Social History” (NSH) was its commitment to uncovering a past about which people knew little. The NSH focused on what we might, in a non-pejorative way, call the broad mass of people: workers, slaves, peasants, First Nations, women, among others whose names […]

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History Slam Episode Thirty-Seven: Historical Figure Reality Shows

April 9, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download By Sean Graham Love ‘em or hate ‘em, reality shows have fundamentally changed television over the past 20 years. Every night networks put on hours of reality programming that is inexpensive to produce and draws ratings (and advertising revenues). While some shows are based on competition, others simply […]

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