Technology and the Post-War Presidency

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Picture by White House Photographer Pete Souza, White House Flickr Collection, 2 May 2011.

You likely saw this photograph sometime over the last few weeks.

It depicts U.S. President Barack Obama and his national security team — including, among others: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Vice President — in the White House Situation Room, Sunday 1 May 2011.

The subject of their fascination, as the president would go on to reveal in a televised national address only a few hours later, is “Operation Neptune Spear” — otherwise known as the covert assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs.

Let’s come back to this photograph shortly. Continue reading

Fun Camp for Adult Researchers: Reading Artifacts at the Canada Science and Technology Museum

By Ioana Teodorescu

You may have heard of it. Or not. Its official title is Reading Artifacts Summer Institute at Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa and this is the third year when it happens. Jaipreet Virdi gave it a serious review in June last year on this very blog and I totally agree with that. I won’t repeat what Jai said, but rather take a more personal approach.

Set: the conservation division of the museum.
Time: 5 days
Basic work: figure out an object with very little external information, if any.
Process: whatever you can think of – beside actual artefact research.
(Never done artefact research before? All the better. They’re quite good at explaining it.)
Frame: the organizers carefully select some really cool things in the collection that don’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before (and believe me, Sci & Tech is just the place) – they lay them on a few tables or, if they’re way too big (which happens with technology), they place them casually round the corner of your chair. They don’t look very intimidating because the actual collections are just a few meters away anyway. Continue reading

Active History on the Grand: Chiefswood, a Bridge Between Two Worlds

Chiefswood from the Grand River

August is laughing across the sky,
Laughing while paddle, canoe and I,
Drift, drift,
Where the hills uplift
On either side of the current swift.

– “The Song my Paddle Sings,” E. Pauline Johnson

From Brantford’s downtown the Grand River meanders lazily, coming back on itself through a large ox-box, before reaching the tiny community of Newport.  Just past Newport the south shore of the Grand River forms the boundary of the Six Nations reserve.  From Newport the Grand River next flows through the town of Onondaga, and just a few kilometers past that, the river flows past a large white house on a hill.  This is Chiefswood. Continue reading

Announcement: Congress Social Media Meet-up

May 29, 2011 5 to 7 pm
Harriet Irving Library, room 111
University of New Brunswick

Recognizing the importance of user-generated content to the Congress experience, Congress is hosting its first ever social media networking cocktail. This event is an opportunity for delegates who would normally engage only online to meet in real life. Join us for a short presentation and a chance to share your experiences and thoughts on blogging with researchers and community-members. Drinks and snacks will be provided.

To RSVP or if you have any questions, Please email me at or call me at (613) 238 6112 ext. 356.

Visible Minority, Invisible History? An Educational Forum about Teaching and Learning Asian Heritage

For our educational readers in the Greater Toronto Area, is proud to pass along this initiation from the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter.

  • Are you a teacher or youth worker?
  • Do you work with a lot of Asian Students?
  • Do your students question their Asian Canadian identity?
  • Do you wish you had more resources to discuss Asian Canadian heritage?
  • Have you been successful in organizing events and lessons regarding Asian Heritage?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, come and join an educational forum about teaching and learning Asian Heritage on Thursday May 26th, 2011. Continue reading

Alberta’s Oil Spill History

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By Sean Kheraj

On Friday, 29 April 2011, Plains Midstream Canada quietly issued a press release, informing the public of a crude oil spill from the Rainbow Pipeline east of the Peace River in northern Alberta near Little Buffalo, AB. Four days later, following the Canadian federal election, Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) announced that 28,000 barrels of crude oil had been released from the pipeline rupture, making this the largest pipeline oil spill in Alberta in over 35 years. Commenting on Alberta’s history of oil spills, Environment Minister Rob Renner said “sure there are incidents from time to time, but I would put our record up against any other.” Just what is that record? Continue reading

Can Ontario Overcome Bob Rae’s Legacy?

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Can one leader single-handedly sink an entire political party? Having recently spent time discussing election issues while knocking on doors in my riding, I was surprised to learn that some Ontarians would answer this in the affirmative, pointing specifically to Bob Rae. Time and again I witnessed a similar reaction during this campaign: “Oh, I’ll never vote NDP!” Oh, why not? “Bob Rae!” (Insert door slamming here.)

I would like to suggest that this sort of reaction is misinformed. My purpose here is not to offer a defence of Bob Rae; on the contrary, I am highly critical of his leadership record. Rather, I would like to address the faulty logic that Bob Rae can be conflated with the current New Democratic Party. Continue reading

May 12th Public Lecture: “Understanding Slavery Past and Present”

A reminder to our readers that you are all invited to the final lecture in the Mississauga Library System’s ‘History Minds’ series, co-hosted with This talk will be on Thursday, May 12th at 7:30PM in Classroom 3 at the Mississauga Central Library (see below the cut for directions).

“Understanding Slavery Past and Present”
With Karlee Sapoznik, Co-Founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery.

Interest in contemporary slavery and human trafficking have increased dramatically over the last two decades. Ms. Karlee Sapoznik has expertise in slavery in all of its forms. Her research integrates the study of historical and contemporary slavery. Although slavery is now illegal around the world it is still widely practiced. Experts place the number of living modern slaves at 27 million, twice as many as the number of Africans enslaved during the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. As Sapoznik argues, if we can better understand both the successes and the failures of past abolitionist movements, we may better understand this paradox. We might hope to change it. Continue reading

Exploring Local Heritage Through Doors and Trails Open

Canadian Music Centre, Doors Open Toronto, 2010

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Doors Open Ontario.  Doors Open is a program that celebrates heritage and culture by inviting the general public to visit buildings that are normally closed to the public.  Doors Open also includes a number of sites which normally charge an entrance fee, these sites typically waive this fee for the duration of the doors open event.  Buildings featured in Doors Open activities may be architecturally unique, have significant local heritage, be privately owned heritage homes, or be culturally relevant institutions. Continue reading

The Morning After Canada Voted

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By Sean Kheraj

The news media narrative in the 2011 federal general election, by May 2nd, was clear: what began as another boring election surprised everyone when it actually got interesting. Leaving aside the troubling notion that anyone would characterize a democratic election as “boring” or “unnecessary,” the narrative came to focus on the NDP surge and the possibility that the party might become the Official Opposition. Continue reading