Category Archives: Cultural History

On the Bay’s 350th, let’s remember department stores’ contributions to colonialism and white supremacy

In this post, Dr. Donica Belisle, author of Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Regina, discusses the ways that Canadian retailers have profited from anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism. She argues that capitalist enterprise has long profited from colonialism and white supremacy in Canada. This year marks the… Read more »

Could Covid Cure Classical Music?

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By Jessi Gilchrist With the onset of COVID-19, we have seen orchestras, operas, and small ensembles retreat from the concert stage and disperse into their lonely practice rooms. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is not being kind to Canada’s musicians or music institutions. Yet this time away from the spotlight also provides an opportunity for critical reflection on the… Read more »

Cuban Serenade: Exploring the History of Cuban Music in Canada

Karen Dubinsky & Freddy Monasterio “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Origin debatable. In the face of this indisputable cliché, we created a documentary podcast series. The first episode of Cuban Serenade premieres today (July 2), the birthdate of our first protagonist, Chicho Valle (1924-1984). Chicho was, we believe, the first professional Cuban musician in Canada. He arrived… Read more »

The Festival Express 50th Anniversary 1970 – 2020

By James Cullingham It was a psychotropic June evening half a century ago. The superb British band Traffic led by Stevie Winwood played Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good.’ The sound of Chris Wood’s flute mingled with a marijuana haze as thousands sat or danced entranced on what was usually the Toronto Argonauts’s home field at CNE Stadium in Toronto. The Festival… Read more »

The Generation of 2020: Coming of Age in Covid-Time

Cynthia Comacchio Although not always the most important identity marker, age has always mattered in the making of roles, rights, status and power structures. It signifies as much as, and occasionally more than, class, gender, race, sexuality, heritage. Only partly a biological/chronological category, it is also socially-constructed and consequently historical, varying in time and place. The time-shifting meanings of age… Read more »

“When is a Bear a Frog?” : Examining Material Culture Interpretation

Carved wooden dagger handle

Amy Woodson-Boulton As someone interested in the history of museums, I have thought for a long time about how we can use the objects in museums’ collections along with their archives to enrich our understanding of both. Recently I have been studying how ideas about art and the discipline of anthropology shaped the reception, display, and interpretation of Indigenous material… Read more »

Art, Taxidermy and Notebooks: The University Art Gallery As Site Of Cross-Disciplinary Exploration

Laurie Dalton As as the Director/Curator of a university art gallery that holds a permanent collection of art, I often think of ways in which objects can be displayed and understood in new contexts. Typically, museum collections are siloed, as are the displays. For example, at a natural history museum you rarely see visual art being used as a counterpoint… Read more »

Materiality and Theatre History at the Stratford Festival Archives

Stephanie Johns and Stephanie Vaillant The Stratford Festival, located in Stratford, Ontario, is North America’s largest repertory theatre that focuses on performances of Shakespeare, the classics, musicals and new works. The Stratford Festival Archives, housed at 350 Douro Street, is responsible for collecting and caring for the Stratford Festival’s history in its many and varied forms. As a way of… Read more »

Language Remediation at the WDM: Answering TRC Calls to Action #43 and #67

Kaiti Hannah Author Note: Portions of this blog post were originally published on WDM.ca. They are reproduced with permission from the authors and the Western Development Museum (WDM). The WDM is the provincially mandated human history museum of Saskatchewan. Language is important. The words we choose to use in our historical interpretation must be inclusive, accurate, respectful, current, and meaningful…. Read more »

Canadian Spiritualism, Mary Melville and the Female Biographical Narrative

By Thomas Hodd Mary Melville, The Psychic (1900) is an extraordinary Canadian cultural artifact. Written by first-wave feminist, psychical researcher, and suffrage leader Flora MacDonald (Merrill) Denison (1867-1921), this significant yet hitherto-undervalued text bears witness to a transformative and vibrant period in Canada’s social, literary and religious history. Based on the life of Denison’s older sister, Mary Merrill, Mary Melville is… Read more »