Category Archives: Public History

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 »

The Collaboratorium – University of Saskatchewan Launches Initiative in Community-Engaged History

By Colin Osmond The University of Saskatchewan recently launched a unique and exciting initiative called the “Community-Engaged History Collaboratorium.” This is an extension of Prof. Keith Thor Carlson’s Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-engaged History, and is designed to be on the cutting edge of community-engaged scholarship (CES). In the Collaboratorium, faculty and students work in collaboration with First Nations,… Read more »

Ramsay Cook, 1931-2016: Scholar and Friend

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By Don Wright In Montreal’s Place des Arts to accept the 1985 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, Ramsay Cook said that he was honoured to be recognized alongside poets, playwrights, and novelists, “which is where a historian should be.” Indeed, it was one of his firmest convictions that history was also an art and that historians had an obligation… Read more »

Acknowledging the Land and the People: A Practice for all Canadian Historians

By Thomas Peace Pour assurer notre existence, il faut nous cramponner à la terre, et léguer à nos enfants la langue de nos ancetres et la propriété du sol [1] These words captivated my attention a few months ago as I walked across Parc Montmorency, the site of the old parliament buildings in Quebec City. They are found on the footing… Read more »

The (im)possibility of raceless equality: blacks as workers and thieves in the Big Hole experience

By Rachel Hatcher [This is the third post in the Learning and unlearning history in South Africa’s public spaces series.] South Africa and its universities have been working for over two decades to eliminate racism from their midst and become metaphoric rainbows of inclusion and equality. This project faces serious challenges from various quarters, some unexpected. Briefly imagine, if you will, growing up… Read more »

Shuttering Archives: A UNESCO Recognized Collection to Close its Doors to the Public

Thomas Peace Last month I spent two weeks working in one of my favourite archives: Le Centre de référence de l’Amérique francophone. This archive – run by Quebec’s Museum of Civilization – is one of the oldest in the country, not only holding the records of the Quebec Seminary (which begin in 1623), but also many important documents related to New… Read more »

Reports from New Directions in Active History: Memory, Museums, and the Politics of the Past

By Jodi Giesbrecht One of the many important conversations held during the ‘New Directions in Active History’ conference considered the evolving ways in which historical knowledge is represented and contested in public spaces and how, as historians, we might participate in such discourses and actively engage with broader audiences. My panel, “Histories, Memories and Museums,” examined the role of museums in… Read more »

AIDS on the Wall: Reflections on the Exhibit “Positive Sex” and the AIDS Activist History Project that Made it Happen

By Beth A. Robertson   Today if you walk into MacOdrum Library at Carleton University in Ottawa, you might be forgiven for taking a double-take. Up on the wall in the main foyer is a striking display that is intended to provide a deeper understanding of what AIDS activism in Canada has looked like since the 1980s. “Positive Sex: Eroticizing Safer… Read more »