The Sugar Monster Feeds on the Navajo Nation

Former Active History editor, Brittany Luby, an assistant professor of history at Laurentian University, was unable to attend this week’s annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) in Washington, D.C. and asked if we could host a video of her presentation: “The Sugar Monster Feeds on the Navajo Nation: An Analysis of the Bodily and External Environment in Artistic and Medical Accounts of the Navajo (Diné) Diabetes Crisis”. Click here for more information about the conference. You can follow the proceedings on twitter through the #ASEH2015.

New Directions in Active History: Institutions, Communication, and Technologies

Members of the editorial team are excited to announce that we’re organizing a conference. This three day conference will create a forum similar to our 2008 founding symposium “Active History: A History for the Future,” where historians interested in the practice of Active History can share their research, methods, and projects with each other. Second, as a primarily web-based and volunteer-run project, we also intend to use this conference to explore new directions for With 20,000 unique visitors a month, is one of the best known history-related websites in Canada. Over the past five years, we’ve published nearly 1,000 blog posts, peer reviewed papers, book reviews, and podcasts. It is time to revisit the project’s goals and look towards what the next five years will bring.

Continue reading

A Toast to Jay Young


Jay’s exit is our loss, but the Archives’ gain is on a hiatus for the winter break, with a return to daily posts in early January. We’d like to leave you with an oldie but a goodie by Jay Young, Toronto’s subway historian and one of the founding members of the site.

This winter Jay left for a new job doing public outreach with the Archives of Ontario. Those who have contributed or worked with our site know that Jay played a critical role: greeting new contributors, working with them, and essentially making the site possible. His absence will be keenly felt by all of us, who had our days enlivened by the ability to work with Jay on a daily basis.

We’d like to publicly give Jay a toast (with a historically-informed Gin and Tonic, perhaps) – for the years with us, and to the exciting work that lies ahead at the Archives of Ontario. You’ll be missed, Jay! Continue reading

New paper – Victory in the Kitchen: Food Control in the Lakehead during the Great War by Beverly Soloway

Image 1: newspaper ad Production & Thrift – Caption: Local newspaper advertising encouraged food thriftiness, Port Arthur Daily News Chronicle, 3 May 1916.

Local newspaper advertising encouraged food thriftiness, Port Arthur Daily News Chronicle, 3 May 1916.

By Beverly Soloway

In the summer of 1914, the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, similar to the rest of Canada, thought the “European war” would be a short one.[1] When Christmas came and went without any sign of peace, most Canadians just redefined their idea of “short.” Nonetheless, by spring 1915, Lakehead households were becoming concerned about food for the upcoming winter should the conflict continue. Families in Fort William and Port Arthur contributed to the war effort by accepting a government-mandated system of food control certain that victory in the kitchen would lead to triumph on the European front. [read more]  is featuring the following paper as part of  “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on”, a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War.  It was first published by Papers & Records, Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 2014. 


Podcast – Canadian Archives at Risk?

On May 26th, a panel discussed recent developments in the archives world in Canada and the challenges archives face today. The panel was part of the Canadian Historical Association’s annual meeting in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Moderated by Erika Dyck (University of Saskatchewan), the panel featured Nicole Neatby (CHA Liaison – Archives), Peter Baskerville (Chair Modern Western Canadian History, University of Alberta) and Heather Moore (Former Chief Librarian at Public Safety Canada Library). is pleased to feature a recording of the roundtable.

Over the Top: The Archives of Ontario’s WWI Onsite Exhibit

Exhibit 1By Timothy Humphries

Before 2009, the Archives of Ontario had been housed in five different locations. Remarkably, not one of them provided an exhibit space. This became a must-have when a sixth location was sought in 2006. Now onsite exhibits can be created regularly to showcase the Archives’ many rich and varied collections. This requires investing significant amounts of time and thought into the design of each new exhibit. Because when it comes to creating an exhibit, there are no instructions, no templates, no cheat sheets – nothing but a blank canvas awaiting an imprint from the myriad possibilities that the imagination can conceive. This was the case for the World War I exhibit, particularly since it was the first exhibit of archival materials to be curated in-house. Continue reading

Picking Up the Pieces: A Community-School Alternative to First Nations Education Renewal

By Paul W. Bennett and Jonathan Anuik

The proposed First National Education Act has “had a great fall,” much like Humpty Dumpty in the popular children’s fable. The latest deal, announced with great fanfare by Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo and Prime Minister Stephen Harper on February 7, 2014 may have sweetened the financial offer, but it did not hold.

When Atleo was toppled in early May, Ottawa’s plan for bureaucratic reform, embodied in Bill C-33, was abandoned, leaving the pact shattered into pieces. Putting it all together again, will require a completely different approach and a more responsive model of self-governance building from the First Nations up, not the top down.

Our research paper, “Picking Up the Pieces,” for the new Northern Policy Institute based in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, demonstrates why the proposed structural education reform missed the mark. More money in the form of increased capital funding might have brought modest gains to on-reserve schooling, but replacing one bureaucracy with another rarely changes the state of education or improves the quality of student learning at the school or community level. Continue reading

Fall 2014 History Matters lecture series: Canada’s First World War

thought, Heritage Toronto and the Toronto Public Library are pleased to announce the Fall 2014 History Matters lecture series.

This season’s series focuses on the theme of “Canada’s First World War.” The talks pay specific attention to local responses and how we remember the conflict.

The series is also part of “Canada’s First World War: A Centennial Series on,” a multi-year series of regular posts about the history and centennial of the First World War.

“Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War”
Robert Rutherdale
Historian Robert Rutherdale (Algoma University) draws from his 2004 book to look at how people and communities experienced World War I at home, from farmers in Alberta and shopkeepers in Ontario, to civic workers in Quebec. Rutherdale looks at many of the big debates in social and cultural history, including demonization of enemy aliens, gendered fields of wartime philanthropy and state authority and citizenship.
Thursday October 30th, 2014
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
North York Central Library Concourse

“Remembering For Peace: Canada’s Great War Centenary”
Jamie Swift
Canada’s famous war memorial at Vimy Ridge features the statue “Breaking of the Sword.” How has this dramatic message of peace been eclipsed by a glorious, birth-of-a-nation war story? How can we commemorate the tragedy of World War I by emphasizing peace? With Jamie Swift, journalist and co-author of Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety.
Wednesday November 5th, 2014
6:30pm – 7:30pm
Bloor/Gladstone Branch

“The Toronto Anti-Greek Riot of 1918: War, Intolerance and Identity”
Chris Grafos
The August 1918 anti-Greek riot, led by returning war veterans, was one of the largest instances of violence in Toronto’s history. This presentation by Chris Grafos (York University) charts the lasting legacy and broader consequences of intolerance towards Canada’s immigrants.
Wednesday November 19th, 2014
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Danforth/Coxwell Branch

“1914-2014, Toronto Remembers the Great War”
Jonathan Vance
Author of Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War, Professor Jonathan Vance (University of Western Ontario), considers the challenges of remembering this catastrophic event, and how those challenges have changed as the centenary approaches. When we are encouraged to remember the First World War, what exactly are we being encouraged to remember?
Thursday November 27th, 2014
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Runnymede Branch Program Room

The History Matters lecture series, part of the TPL’s Thought Exchange programming, has been connecting the work of historians with the the public since the 2010. Recordings of previous History Matters lectures can be found on the YouTube channel.