Category Archives: Public History

More than Canada150: The New Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History

By Christoph Laugs On July 1st 2017, the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) opened the doors of its new permanent exhibit – the Canadian History Hall – to the public. When the museum’s name was changed from Canadian Museum of Civilization to CMH and a remodelling of the Canada Hall was announced in 2013, concerns grew among historians and museum… Read more »

Implementing TRC Call to Action #79: Commemoration of Indian Residential School Sites

By Carling Beninger Given the recent debate in Canada about the commemoration of historical figures involved in the Indian residential school (IRS) system, including calls to remove names of historical figures from schools or buildings, it is important also to recognize the necessity of commemorating IRS sites. Acknowledging the legacy of the IRS system at school sites will not only… Read more »

kiskisiwin – remembering: Challenging Indigenous Erasure in Canada’s Public History Displays

By Jesse Thistle The short film kiskisiwin – remembering is an intervention in the mythic pioneer fables Canadians tell themselves at public history sites to justify colonial settlement while delegitimizing Indigenous claims to their own ancestral lands on Turtle Island. The logic goes something like this: if nothing or no one existed here before settlement, then it is okay that… 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 »

Archives As Activism

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by Krista McCracken Last week was archives awareness week in Ontario, a week to raise awareness about what archivists do, what archives are, and just generally celebrate all of the good stuff associated with archives. In addition to general archives promotion this week also got me thinking about the connection between archives and activism. Archives can connect to activism and… Read more »

The Presence of the Past: The Possibilities of Virtual Reality for History

Sean Kheraj For the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about virtual reality and its potential applications for historians. Can we use virtual reality to better understand the past? Can the experience of virtual reality alter historical thinking? Can we now build time machines, teleporters, and holodecks using virtual reality? These questions may be overly optimistic or idealistic. I… Read more »

The Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company or, Thoughts on Failure in History

By Andrew Nurse The creation and failure of Chignecto Marine Transport Railway Company (CMTRC) — in effect, a “ship railway” — is usually presented as a unique episode in Maritime and Canadian history. In 2012, the Nova Scotia provincial government moved to commemorate the company (and, perhaps unintendedly, its failure) by purchasing the land on which the project was to… Read more »

Dusting off the history of drought on the Canadian Prairies in the 1930s

By George Colpitts, Shannon Stunden Bower and Bill Waiser [Editors note: this post was prepared for both our website and NiCHE-Canada.org where it was published on Monday, November 28, 2016]. The dustbowl years on the Canadian prairies live on in the imaginations and landscapes of Western Canadians. Elderly survivors might still leave teacups upside down on saucers, as they did… Read more »

After the Asylum/Après l’asile: Launching a History of Survival

By Megan Davies & Erika Dyck The shift from institutional to community mental health was among the most significant social changes of the late 20th century. Between 1965 and 1980 nearly 50,000 beds were closed in residential psychiatric facilities across Canada. De-institutionalization profoundly changed the lives of former patients and those who worked with them, impacting the larger economy, public… Read more »

The lives of historic women (or wearing a big dress on a hot day)

by Anne Marie Lane Jonah This essay has been jointly posted with the Acadiensis Blog Mid-summer 2016 Nova Scotia visitor numbers at Historic Sites are anecdotally reported to be up from last year. Once again tourists and locals wander in rebuilt towns and fortifications, watch, try their hand at demonstrations, and meet people in costume who share information about “their… Read more »