Category Archives: History of Science and Technology

Science, Technology and Gender in Canada: An Exhibit

By Beth A. Robertson and Dorotea Gucciardo  What do a glass memory tube, an electric range, a botanical painting, a player piano and two different aircrafts have in common? This first Active History exhibit dedicated to Science, Technology and Gender will provide a few answers to that question that may surprise you. This introductory post marks the launch of a… Read more »

Who Was the Queen of the Hurricanes? The Story of Elsie Gregory MacGill (1905-1980)

By Dr. Crystal Sissons Who was the Queen of the Hurricanes? It sounds like a rather simple question doesn’t it? — and in a sense it is. The simple answer is: Elsie Gregory MacGill. But what does that really tell us about the title or the woman? Biographical research is the key to fleshing out the different facets of Elsie’s life…. Read more »

Trans-border Data Flow and the TPP: Haven’t we been here before?

By Scott Campbell   In the final weeks of the 2015 Canadian federal election, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) became a hot political issue. After seven years of virtually secret negotiations, the 12 Pacific Rim countries–including Canada–involved in the trade agreement announced on October 5 that a deal had been reached, but gave few details. The final document was not available… Read more »

Enlightening Technologies: Sunlamps, Medical Science and Popular Concepts of Health

By Dorotea Gucciardo   “Capture the vitality of sunny summer!” So read the headline of a 1931 General Electric (GE) ad, which encouraged Canadians to bring into their homes “the health-giving rays of the sun any hour of the day […] every day of the year.” Appearing in the November edition of Chatelaine, the advertisement enticed readers facing the start… Read more »

The People’s Telephone and the Internet Today

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By Robert MacDougall   It may be the networks I belong to and the feeds I follow, but—as a guy whose main interests are 19th-century pseudoscience, the history of the telephone, and WKRP in Cincinnati—I am often surprised by how much of the social media in my streams is devoted to tech industry news and speculation. Will consumers embrace the… Read more »

Lorsque Madame Voyage: Women and Air Travel at Trans Canada Airlines

By Blair Stein   Upon his retirement, former Air Canada President Gordon McGregor wrote that “certainly no 20 years in the history of aviation, and probably no 20 years in the future, will show such a succession of basic changes…as did the period of 1948-1968.”[1] He was not exaggerating. During this time period, airlines moved from propeller-powered aircraft to jets,… Read more »

X-Rays and the Discriminatory Science of Migration

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By Laura Madokoro The postwar era is often celebrated as a great time of liberalization in Canada, as far as immigration rules are concerned. What is often ignored is how hard people, including Chinese Canadians, fought to obtain equality of treatment, and how the federal government was incredibly reluctant to proceed with large-scale change until the 1960s. Indeed, under the… Read more »

Excitement, Suspicion, Protest: A Brief History of Military Science in Canada

By Matthew S. Wiseman The bombings in Paris and Beirut this past week are a powerful illustration of how civilians are too often caught in the violent crossfire unleashed by global unrest. How does one prepare a civilian populace for such potential devastation? Is it even possible? Between 1948 and 1954, officials in Ottawa attempted to design and implement a… Read more »

Technoscience in Canada: An Active History Theme Week

Edited by Beth A. Robertson with Dorotea Gucciardo   Climate scientist Simon Donner was quoted in Wired, lamenting the politicization of science under the recently felled Conservative government. Individuals like Donner hoped that the change in government would mean “a new beginning for science” in Canada. Important to this discussion is not only a conception of Canada’s future, but also its… Read more »