Category Archives: History and Culture

Reconsidering Stephen Harper’s Historiography

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By Andrew Nurse Few Prime Ministers have been as interested in history as Stephen Harper. A wag might now say, few Prime Ministers have known so little about it. What is clear, as panels at the CHA, a special Labour/Le Travail forum, and a spate of other critical articles have demonstrated, historians had little time for Harper’s — or, more… Read more »

Fifth Annual (?) Year in Review (100 Years Later)

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By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham Four years ago, we had an idea for a post that came from our frustration with year end columns definitively declaring winners and losers for the previous twelve months while also predicting what the year’s ultimate legacy would be. As historians, though, we felt that these columns could not be written in the moment,… Read more »

Past, Present, and Future in Enki Bilal’s Graphic Novels

Alban Bargain-Villéger Little known in Canada outside a small circle of aficionados, Enki Bilal is probably one of the most imaginative, talented graphic novelists alive. He is also a controversial, misunderstood figure whose work addresses deeply historical questions. Thus, this post offers a reflection on Bilal’s career and, more particularly, his perspective on the past and how it constantly collides… Read more »

#Canada150 / #Colonialism150: An Advertising History

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Janis Thiessen Government advertising for the sesquicentennial of Confederation began in 2013, “aimed at increasing Canadians’ knowledge and pride in Canada’s history and heritage.” The federal government promoted licensing agreements for commercial use of the “Canada 150” logo. A number of businesses in Canada took the opportunity to promote their products by connecting them to Canadian nationalism and Canadian history… Read more »

Looking Forward, Looking Back: CBC News and The Revamped National

By Sean Graham Since Peter Mansbridge announced last year that he was retiring from his post as anchor of The National, there has been plenty of speculation about how the show would use his departure as an opportunity to revamp. Criticisms of the show have ranged from political bias to being too centered around its anchor and many looked forward… Read more »

The Great White Hype: Conor McGregor and the History of Race in Boxing

By Angie Wong and Travis Hay On the 12th of July, 2017, downtown Toronto was over-run with a sea of Irish flags and rowdy young white men.[1] More than 16,000 fans had flocked to the scene to witness the Mayweather-McGregor World Tour Press Conference, which promoted the upcoming boxing match between the undefeated African American champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (widely… Read more »

Dreams of This as Home: Chinese labourers in children’s history books

Samantha Cutrara, PhD My last two blog posts for ActiveHistoy.ca deconstructed pre- and post-Confederation Canadian history in children’s books. My findings suggested that stories that explored difficult histories or social justice topics often did not connect these stories to larger national forces and thus felt isolated from the rest of Canadian history. These findings suggest a dangerous separation. Historians, teachers,… Read more »

The importance of historical and social context to public art: Fearless Girl and Charging Bull

By Kaitlin Wainwright In the cover of night in 1989, Arturo Di Modica installed his bronze statue Charging Bull at Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District. He had been working at it since shortly after the stock market crash some two years prior. It was a symbol of power and resilience. He did not have a permit, and the… Read more »

Fifty Years of French Protest Songs

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Alban Bargain-Villéger It all happened sometime in late March 2003, during the first days of the invasion of Iraq. My then-roommate and I were watching CNN’s coverage of the Battle of Nasiriyah in our Vancouver living-room, when my friend suddenly decided to break the silence that had been reigning for about fifteen minutes. “I’m telling you, dude, there’s going to… Read more »

Canada, UFOs, and Wishful Thinking

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Matthew Hayes If you’ve ever done even a cursory search on UFOs, chances are you’ve come across that mythical American investigation, Project Blue Book. It officially ran from 1952 until 1969, at which point the infamous Condon Report denied any scientific basis to UFOs and the US Air Force shut down its investigation. Depending who you talk to, the American… Read more »