Category Archives: History and Culture

MacChe? Kingston prepares for the Macdonald Bicentennial

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Karen Dubinsky I live in downtown Kingston, Ontario. Two doors away from me are two sweet old white ladies. They live in John A. Macdonald’s boyhood home where, according to one of the two plaques outside, he spent his “character forming” years. When I first moved to this street I noticed that during relevant occasions (Macdonald’s birthday and Canada Day),… Read more »

Hashtag Heritage: Social Media, Advertising and Remembrance Day

By Angela Duffett A rather curious promoted tweet from the Bank of Montreal appeared recently on my Twitter feed: “Join Canadians for a #DayofSocialSilence to honour those in service.” Not really grasping the connection between BMO, Remembrance Day, and staying off of social media for the day, I clicked the tweet to see what kind of response it was attracting…. Read more »

‘It’s history, like it or not’: the Significance of Sudbury’s Superstack

By: Mike Commito and Kaleigh Bradley Standing at a height of 1,250 feet, the Sudbury Superstack is the second tallest chimney in the world and runner-up to the CN Tower for the tallest structure in Canada. Until 1987, Sudbury Ontario had the dubious honour of having the world’s tallest smokestack. Today, the Stack is seen by some as a marker… Read more »

Ignorance of History as a Site of Memory

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By Raphaël Gani The discourse about Canadians ignoring their collective past, or not knowing their national history, is neither new (Osborne, 2003) nor limited to Canada (Wineburg, 2001). Such a view tends to be legitimized according to surveys in which people fail to identify famous events and politicians. This failure is also linked with angst about the perils of the… Read more »

Why I’ll wait to visit the Canadian Museum of Human Rights

By B. Trofanenko On September 20, 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) opened its doors to the world. Considering the CMHR a “great national project,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper remarked how the museum will stand for “freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law” and as a “monument to Canada’s embrace of humanity’s highest ideals.”  The opening… Read more »

“We Meant War Not Murder”: A Punk Rock History of Klatsassin and the Tsilhqot’in War of 1864

By Sean Carleton Vancouver punk band The Rebel Spell are touring across Canada this fall to promote their new record, Last Run. Released in late September, Last Run showcases the band’s song-writing skills and passion for social justice. What is most interesting for ActiveHistory.ca readers, however, is the fact that The Rebel Spell have included a song on their album… Read more »

Anti-War Poetry in Canadian Newspapers at the Beginning of the First World War

By Russ Chamberlayne The war fever has reached an acute stage. It has now attacked the poets. – “Pertinent and Impertinent,” Calgary Daily Herald, August 4th, 1914 Readers of ActiveHistory.ca may be surprised at the deeply emotional and mixed reactions to the opening of World War I in Canadian newspapers, and the forms they took. While many have described the… Read more »

Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada, by Vivienne Poy

By Cristina Pietropaolo Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada is a thoroughly researched and eloquent documentation of the experiences of twenty-eight women of different ages (the oldest in their nineties and the youngest in their thirties) who emigrated from the southern coastal region of China to Canada between 1950 and 1990. Vivienne Poy, an historian,… Read more »

Feeling the City: Getting at the Historical Sights and Sounds of Downtown

Like most of us humans—80% in Canada, more than 50% worldwide—my home is in the city. And like so many urbanites, I take a whole range of day-to-day sensations for granted. The screech of garbage trucks, the overheard conversations on public transit; the smells of street food and exhaust; the sight of thousands of other people going about their lives…. Read more »

How Cuban Music Made Me a Better Historian

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By Karen Dubinsky “If you want to learn anything about the history of this country, you have to start listening to Carlos Varela.” This advice, offered by a colleague who was helping me make my way through a Cuban film archive a decade ago, proved remarkably true. I arrived in Havana in 2004 to research child migration conflicts. But what… Read more »