Category Archives: Does History Matter?

History’s Reputation Problem: The Sequel, History isn’t Humourless, is it?!?

By Thomas Peace We’ve all heard it: History is boring. Historians may rebut: We’re not boring! We’re serious! A quick Google Image search suggests that both perspectives may be correct! Not only does history look boring and serious, it also looks White, Wealthy, Masculine, and Antiquated (okay: White, Male, and Stale). No wonder history has a reputation problem! Good news… Read more »

A Reluctant Steward: Alberta and Its Parks

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By Jessica DeWitt [We are publishing this in partnership with the Network in Canadian History & Environment.] This past week the Alberta Provincial Government announced it’s plan to ‘optimize’ its park system. This includes: The full or partial closure of twenty parks. Shortened operating seasons. Fewer groomed cross-country tracks Closures of a few visitor information centres Service fee increases A proposal to partner… Read more »

End of the Line? The History of Canada’s Precarious Passenger Rail Network

By Thomas Blampied The saying goes that we don’t really see infrastructure until it fails. Over the past week, thousands of Canadians have seen their travel plans disrupted by Indigenous demonstrations blocking both Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railway tracks in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. The actions are in support of the Wet’suwet’en fight against the… Read more »

History’s Reputation Problem

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When placed beside the sharp decline in undergraduate student enrollments, we must consider – given that interest in the past does not seem to have declined – perhaps, it is the public value of academic history, and – more specifically – the history professor, that has eroded.

The Murder of Constable David Dunmore & the Long Debate over whether to Ban ‘Military-Style’ Rifles

Less than two months before the murder of fourteen women at the Montreal Massacre, Minister of Justice Doug Lewis told the House of Commons that the government had “absolutely no intention of banning the importation of semi-automatic weapons, none whatsoever.”

A’Se’k – Boat Harbour: A Site of Centuries’ Long Mi’kmaw Resistance

By Colin Osmond On October 4th, hundreds of people gathered at Pictou Landing First Nation and marched to A’Se’k (Boat Harbour, N.S.) to demand that the governments of Nova Scotia and Canada live up to their promise to stop the flow of toxic waste into the tidal lagoon. A’Se’k is the site of an effluent treatment facility handling wastewater from… Read more »

Historians and Indigenous Genocide in Saskatchewan

By Robert Alexander Innes [This essay was first published last June on Shekon Neechie. It asks questions about the approach of Canadian historians to genocide that are again relevant after the response of much of the media to the MMIWG- Final Report.] As a result of the Calls to Action released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) the notion… Read more »

The Never-ending History Wars

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Allan Greer How can we understand the past and what lessons does it hold for the present? This is an issue that has always been contested with different approaches coming to the fore.  From Plutarch in ancient times to Machiavelli in the Renaissance, the predominant idea was that stories of great men from earlier times would guide and inspire elite… Read more »

A Narrow Vision: Politics in Canada in Historical Perspective

By James Cullingham As the imbroglio concerning Jody Wilson-Raybould, Jane Philpott and the Liberal government emerged, an immediate wave of sentiment broke across social media. The panicky message can be summed up:  “In light of this scandal, Canadians will inevitably end up with an Andrew Scheer government.” This type of thinking reflects a reductive historical and political fallacy that assumes… Read more »

Moral Foundations in History

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By Matthew Neufeld Waterton Lakes national park is named after a distinguished nineteenth-century British naturalist and pioneer in conservation. After returning from his family’s holdings in South America in 1824, Charles Waterton converted part of his estate in Yorkshire into the world’s first wildfowl and nature preserve.[1]. As recently digitized documents published by University College London show, Waterton was also… Read more »