Podcast: Public, Private, Political: Charitable Organizations and Citizen Engagement

On June 2, 2015, a roundtable was held as part of the CHA Annual Meeting that examined the Canadian politics of charity through the history of citizen engagement and the historical relationships between state and charity and public and private.

Chaired by Lara Campbell (SFU), the roundtable featured Sarah Glassford (UPEI), Ian Mosby (McMaster), Will Tait (Carleton), Shirley Tillotson (Dalhousie), and Jonathan Weier (Western).

Activehistory.ca is pleased to present a recording of this roundtable.

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Podcast: Children’s Drawings and Humanitarian Aid: Transnational Expressions and Exhibitions

On June 2, 2015 Dominique Marshall delivered her Presidential Address to the Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting. The address was entitled ‘Children’s Drawings and Humanitarian Aid: Transnational Expressions and Exhibitions.’

Activehistory.ca is pleased to present a recording of the address.
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Coming Clean About Operation Soap: The 1981 Toronto Bathhouse Raids

By Forrest Picher

Implicitly, gay men are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and supposedly enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people.1 Yet, there remains a legal discrimination against homosexual sex: homosexuals cannot engage in group sex, while heterosexuals can. Writing in 2014, Thomas Hooper explains “section 159 of the Criminal Code codifies mononormativity and maintains the legacy of gross indecency, as anal sex is only legal in Canada if it is ‘engaged in, in private, between… any two persons.’”2 In this way, any group sex between homosexual men, for example, is technically illegal in the Canadian Criminal Code and police are legally justified to raid places in which such activity occurs. And they do. In Calgary in 2002, for example, the police raided Goliath’s bathhouse, an establishment that was used by gay men in the community as a meeting place for sex.3 This raid demonstrates that the legal ambiguities that led to the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto, as I will discuss, continue to be problematic. In fact, one bartender in Calgary stated after the 2002 raid: “This is so reminiscent of 1981 in Toronto, it’s sickening.”4

On February 5, 1981, 200 plainclothes police officers raided four Toronto bathhouses leading to the largest mass arrest since the October Crisis ten years earlier. Continue reading

The Central Experimental Farm’s Inclusion on Endangered Heritage Place List is a Call to Action


Fields at the Central Experiment Farm. Author’s photo

By Pete Anderson

On May 26th, Heritage Canada The National Trust included an important Ottawa site in its annual list of Canada’s top ten endangered heritage places. Declaring that “the Feds play fast and loose with a national historic site,” the National Trust denounced the proposed severing of 60 acres of the Central Experimental Farm’s Field 1 for a future hospital campus without consultation. The Farm’s placement on the list is a call to arms for everyone who supports Canada’s history and federal scientific research programs. Continue reading

Podcast: Isn’t All History Public? Knowledge, Wisdom, and Utility in the Great Age of Storytelling

On June 1, 2015, Dean Oliver delivered the Keynote Address of the Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting. His talk was entitled “Isn’t All History Public? Knowledge, Wisdom, and Utility in the Great Age of Storytelling.”

Oliver is the Director of Research at the Canadian Museum of History but his remarks are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the museum.

Activehistory.ca is pleased to present a recording of the address.

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Kenneth Dewar, Frank Underhill and the Politics of Ideas

By Ann Walton

MQUP, 2015.

MQUP, 2015

This April, historian and professor Kenneth C. Dewar arrived at Carleton University’s History Department to launch his new book, Frank Underhill and the Politics of Ideas. The room was bustling with students and professors all chatting as we waited for the talk to begin. The subject of Dewar’s book was of particular interest here. Not only did Frank H. Underhill (1889-1971) teach at Carleton, the historian’s donated collection of books and journals still line the walls of the reading room named in his honour, and the annual graduate and undergraduate colloquiums bear the Underhill name. But Dewar’s discussion ventured in directions beyond the biographical; he spoke of the intellectual and political climate of Underhill’s time. What was so truly remarkable about the afternoon’s discussion was that it also encouraged a conversation regarding present-day politics. Continue reading

A Father’s Grief: The Case of Captain Robert Bartholomew

By Matthew Barrett

On September 13th 1918, Captain Robert Bartholomew suffered a sudden nervous breakdown after reading his son’s name in a newspaper casualty list. His only child, nineteen-year old Private Verne Lyle Bartholomew, had been killed in action at Hangard Wood on August 8th 1918. Unable to carry on with his administrative duties in England, the elder Bartholomew fell into a malaise and was hospitalized with neurasthenia one month later. A medical board recorded, “He is suffering from severe depression following the mental shock of the news.”[1]

VerneLyleBartholomew (2)

Verne Bartholomew

Although many historical studies of the First World War have detailed the psychological stress and trauma endured by frontline soldiers, more research is also needed into the mental and emotional effect of the war on those on the home front in England and Canada. To what extent did deaths of sons shape the ways in which the older generation of fathers interpreted the conflict? How did these reactions affect notions of masculinity, duty and patriotism for men too old to see active service themselves? For fathers who had enthusiastically championed the war, the death of a son exposed an underlying tension between public rhetoric and private grief. Continue reading

Planting the Seeds of Citizenship

Undated Photo, Richmond, ON. From the Spring 1905 issue of the Queen's Quarterly. (Reproduced with permission).

Undated Photo, Richmond, ON. From the Spring 1905 issue of the Queen’s Quarterly. (Reproduced with permission).

By Conrad McCallum,

A school garden in Bowesville, Ontario established by the Mcdonald-Robertson movement, from the Spring 1905 issue of the Queen's Quarterly. (Reproduced with permission).

A school garden in Bowesville, Ontario established by the Mcdonald-Robertson movement, from the Spring 1905 issue of the Queen’s Quarterly. (Reproduced with permission).

A sample of Canadian headlines about school gardens from the past few months: A two-year school garden project in Vancouver will contribute to fresher produce in the cafeteria and food literacy skills. Students at an ethnically diverse school in Windsor, Ontario will use a new community garden as a “living classroom” for discussions on healthy eating and plant science. Students went to work planting at a school in Pickering, Ontario that has been named ‘the greenest school on earth’.

School gardens have made a recent comeback, tapping into environmental consciousness and community-mindedness. But their roots belong to a much earlier period, when they appeared to offer a grab bag of pedagogical benefits. Continue reading

“If Stephen Harper doesn’t support Canadian Studies, why should we?”

By Colin Coates

“If Stephen Harper doesn’t support Canadian Studies, why should we?”

So said the vice-provost of Duke University to Jane Moss, the director of the university’s Center for Canadian Studies, as he recommended “re-purposing” the endowment that had funded the Centre. This long-lasting centre closed as of 2014, turned into a “Council for North American Studies.” The place of Canada in this new structure has been reduced, and the funds originally intended for the study of Canada now will be used in different ways.[1]

Some Canadians may be surprised to learn the Duke University, located in North Carolina, had a Center for Canadian Studies. Even before the formal establishment of the centre in 1974, Duke was one of the most important universities in advancing the knowledge of Canada. A specialist in the history of the British Commonwealth, Richard Preston was appointed in 1965 as the William K. Boyd Professor of History. Preston directed a number of PhD dissertations on Canadian topics, including those of leading scholars like Andrée Lévesque and J.L. Granatstein. In the late 1960s, only a few universities in Canada offered the PhD in History, and given the climate of the time, it often proved difficult to justify pursuing a Canadian topic even in Canada. Many Canadians travelled abroad, to the United Kingdom, the United States or France to pursue their degrees. Anglophone scholars studied under specialists in the history of the British Commonwealth and Empire, one of the few ways that Canadian history could find its historiographical niche. Distinguished scholars like Richard Preston at Duke played key roles in developing the nascent field of Canadian Studies around the globe. Continue reading

Vaccinations and the Decline of Diphtheria



[Editors note: This is a second follow up post from our Infectious Disease, Contagion and the History of Vaccines theme week]

By Deborah Neill

In 1883, Bedford Brown read a paper before the Virginia State Medical Society, which was published two years later as Reminiscences of Personal Experience in the History of Diphtheria. It opened with a heart-breaking account of a consultation he was called to in 1856. The 10 year old patient, “an exceedingly bright, and interesting boy” lived “in a large airy residence, surrounded with grounds perfectly cleanly and well kept.” But the child was terribly ill, with an “enormously enlarged tonsil” covered in a “thick, tenacious, pearly white coating as if painted with a brush” and he “was suffering extreme distress from difficulty of breathing and deglutition.” After an agonizing few hours where the doctors could do little beyond watching his decline, the boy died.

Shortly after this heartbreaking death, Brown was called to see a family where six children were sick at once, including a small baby. “With the limited information then at hand, I was totally unprepared to act,” Brown said. He continued, “I know of but few more appalling scenes to the conscientious physician than that of an entire family prostrated with the malignant form of this disease.”[1] Continue reading