Category Archives: History and Culture

Unfinished History

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By Tina Loo When Eric Hobsbawm died earlier this month, his passing was the occasion for a lot of thoughtful reflection about the practice of history and its connection to a larger politics. Hobsbawm, his comrade E.P. Thompson, and Natalie Davis were partly responsible for me doing what I now do. As a science undergrad, my program was fairly structured,… Read more »

Lobstick: Canada’s next symbol?

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By Merle Massie When Senator Nicole Eaton called for Canada to declare a new biopolitical symbol in the fall of 2011, she suggested replacing the ‘dentally defective rat’ –– known as beaver, or castor Canadensis –– with the perhaps more ‘stately’ polar bear. In one simple suggestion, she set off a firestorm of controversy across Canada’s social and public media… Read more »

The Day the Music Died: Remembering Sam the Record Man

By Jay Young The passing of Sam “the Record Man” Sniderman at the age of 92 filled the airwaves, newspaper pages, and conversations on the street in Toronto this past week.  Sniderman owned the largest chain of record stores in Canada and ardently promoted the Canadian music industry.  Many people expressed warm memories of the entrepreneur and his flagship shop… Read more »

Active History on Stage: Party People at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

By Daniel Ross How do we create art about history? Can we make it powerful, relevant, and pedagogical? What happens when the people whose lives and struggles we portray are still alive – and in the audience? Anyone making art about the past has to come to grips with questions like these. But it’s rare to find artists comfortable enough… Read more »

The Acknowledgments Project; or, The Girl with the Chocolate-Dipped Cone

By Alan MacEachern Once in a while, historians come up with an idea, do some research, analyze it, write that up, and find we have something resembling a book. Or maybe it turns out to be an article. Or a blog post. In those cases, we attach our name to it and send it out into the world. But what… Read more »

Language Use on the Historical Playground

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On Monday afternoon Christopher Dummitt responded to my Active History post “Colonialism and the Words We Choose” on his blog Everyday History. In his critique Dummitt argues that Monday’s post is representative of how disconnected some academic historians are from everyday society. He suggests that the argument I make is fuelled by a drive to avoid talking about inequality in the past.

Exhibiting Race: The Power of Portraiture

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Is race something we wear on our faces? Does it lie our skin colour, place of origin, or ancestry? Is it tangible? Two online exhibits challenge these ideas. The White Australia Policy began in 1901. Years of xenophobia and racial tensions, caused by increasing immigration, labour disputes, and competition in the Australian goldfields, fostered the passing of the Immigration Restriction… Read more »

Was the Past a Happy Place?

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By Ian Milligan Was the past a happy place? Could we take a large array of information and learn whether there was an emotional content to it? I’ve been increasingly curious about how we can apply a host of tools that data miners are using on contemporary information to large repositories of historical information: could we learn something new from… Read more »

In the beginning there was… Canada?!?

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This is my favourite time of the year to be in Quebec City.  With the school year drawing to a close, a seemingly endless train of tour buses bear down on the city. Ontario’s youth are here to learn about Canada’s roots in the berceau of the nation. Our story starts here… or at least so the tale goes. Sitting… Read more »