Category Archives: History and Culture

Carving out a Collective Identity

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U.S. ship Frances sailing near Peru with the common sailor’s saying below ("Death to the living, long life to the killers, success to sailors wives, & greasy luck to whalers") engraved on scrimshaw.

Henry Jacob When artists exist outside of the canon, their names sometimes remain unknown. However, even if their personal identities fade, they may create objects that encourage future generations to better understand the time in which they lived. Occasionally, their artwork can also empower later viewers to reflect upon the collective identity of their own era. The object of this… Read more »

Virtual authenticity: The potential risks of historical video games

Dale M. McCartney In 2014, Jonathan MacQuarrie told Active History readers that video games were increasingly teaching people about history in exciting and sometimes worrisome ways. In the years since, there has been an explosion of games that not only depict the past, but trade on historical accuracy as part of their appeal. They promise an extraordinary verisimilitude, allowing players… Read more »

The Lessons of Netflix’s Munich

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Alvin Finkel When people desire a more bellicose response to an international conflict, they often accuse their opponents of failing to recognize the lessons of “Munich.” We are hearing that from some Canadian conservatives with regards to Canada’s response to the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The assumption in their use of “Munich” is that the leaders of… Read more »

How to Celebrate New Year’s Day Like a Fur Trader

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Jessica Di Laurenzio It is impossible to study early Canadian history without understanding the fur trade, and impossible to study the fur trade without coming across the records of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Some of the most useful and interesting records are the journals that kept daily accounts of post activities. Among the entries that jotted down the weather, visitors… Read more »

Community, Family, & the Hidden History of Southwestern Ontario

It is this gap, between official imaginings of community, and how the past informs the communities in which we actually live, that the Hidden Histories of Southwestern Ontario project seeks to bridge.

Life with Marcel Proust

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By James Cullingham I began reading Proust as I launched into writing my dissertation in about 2006. I was on a beach in Cuba when I first opened Du côté de chez Swann the first of a seven-volume novel totaling some 3,000 pages. I finished the novel en français earlier this year. That’s correct, it took me 15 years to… Read more »

Historia Nostra: Jamestown Miniseries

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By Erin Isaac Jamestown looms large in North American collective historical imagination, in pop culture as well as in the classroom. As North America’s first permanent English settlement, the site is celebrated as the “birthplace” of modern Anglo-American society but (as is true of all historical sites) the history of Jamestown is complicated; there are aspects to its story to… Read more »

Conspiracy Theories and the Canadians who Love Them

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Kevin Anderson In April and May of 1956, Lethbridge, Alberta, Social Credit MP John Blackmore gave two speeches over the radio to his constituents where he claimed that on recent versions of Canadian dollar bills, there was clearly the likeness of a demon hiding in the Queen’s hair. Blackmore related how a correspondent, William Guy Carr, had drawn his attention… Read more »

The Resonance of Almighty Voice (Kitchi-Manito-Waya)

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By James Cullingham One Arrow First Nation Chief Tricia Sutherland says this “the right time for the story to be told.” The story concerns Almighty Voice (Kitchi-Manito-Waya) the young Cree man from One Arrow, a community near Batoche who became subject of one of the longest manhunts in Canadian history. Almost exactly 125 years ago, Almighty Voice slaughtered a settler’s… Read more »

In Praise of Peter Green(baum)

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By James Cullingham Peter Green’s death was announced by a British law firm on July 25, 2020.  The news elicited an outpouring of grief and admiring statements from his musical peers. Like Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys or Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Peter Green is viewed alternatively as a prime musical casualty of the psychedelic moment, or as… Read more »