Podcast: Play in new window | Download
"Fermenting Room", 1916. Image from City of Toronto Archives
Canadian historian Craig Heron recently presented an entertaining talk at the second event of the History Matters lecture series, sponsored by the Toronto Public Library.
Heron discussed a number of aspects in the social history of alcohol in Toronto, from the public importance of nineteenth-century taverns to the imposition of prohibition in the early twentieth century. The Annette Street library was an appropriate locale for the talk, since the Junction neighbourhood in which the library is located was the last remaining dry district in Toronto.
Heron’s talk is available here for audio download.
The next History Matters lectures take place Thursday, October 14th, when Jennifer Bonnell talks about prisons, pollution and homelessness in Toronto’s Don Valley, while Jay Young analyzes the building of Canada’s first subway under Yonge Street. Click here for more details.
How is it that we know the importance of words in shaping our perceptions, but forget to examine our naming practices beyond the naming of Indigenous peoples?
Photo by Carl G. Linde, provided by Lake of the Woods District Museum, Kenora, Ontario
How is it that we perceive images like this as Indians hunting among or in the “wild” rice? What exactly presents us from reading the visual as “Crop Maitenance” or “Pest Control”?
As Indigenous historians, we debate the use of “Indian” in reference to law or colonial parlance. We know it is a misnomer, a combination of geographical error and personal folly. We suggest “First Nations” is best because it implies sovereignty and long-term presence. Specific Tribal names like Migmaq, Haundenosaunee, Nehilawe, and Anishinaabe, wow us because we think that they represent a people as they would represent themselves.
We write books about representation. We have a field called “Identity Studies.” We know what it means to be labelled and how a label, in shaping lives, becomes real. We write to create awareness and to challenge stereotypes.
And yet, we focus on the names of peoples. We neglect renaming the very things that sustain Indigenous populations. I ask you, what assumption do the names for material things, tangible things carry? I believe we need to revisit our most basic assumptions in Indigenous studies, in identity studies. We cannot create a positive image of Indigenous populations unless we create positive images for the objects that they encounter, consume, and create. Continue reading
by Laura Madokoro
Recently, the Canadian Immigration Minister travelled around the world to consult with foreign governments on global migration issues. Jason Kenney’s meetings with his Australian counterparts drew special media interest given Australia’s well-known “tough stance” on would-be asylum seekers. Kenney made it clear that Canada and Australia would be working together on human smuggling issues in particular. He declared, “Canada intends to work domestically and internationally to combat the crime and fraud associated with the treacherous journey some immigrants make to Canada. At the same time, we need to ensure that those in need of protection have access to it, and we look forward to working with partners such as Australia.” Continue reading
Lake in Canada's Nickel Belt near Sudbury
From at least 1929, the Nickel Belt region around Sudbury was the main operation of two large and generally successful mining companies, INCO and Falconbridge. Although there were a number of labour disputes, periodic layoffs and major expansions, the situation largely continued until the commodity boom of the mid 2000s. There was a spate of acquisitions and mergers in the international mining sector and the world’s second and third largest nickel companies received global interest. In 2006, Falconbridge was acquired by a Swiss Company, XSTRATA, while INCO became part of Brazilian VALE in a $19 billion dollar sale. Since these both involved the sale of Canadian companies to foreign investors, they fell under the regulation of the Investment Canada Act, which states that such takeovers must be a net benefit to Canada. The recently elected Harper government agreed to both sales with a list of conditions that have never been made public, although it is widely understood that both companies promised not to layoff any Canadian employees for 3 years.
Performance is an important theoretical concept in the history classroom. It has been deployed in various contexts, from a social historian’s concern with the ‘public transcript’ of the theatre of the dominant classes, and its counter-theatre of resistance, to cultural and gender historians’ readings of ‘performativity,’ wherein the cultural fictions of collectively performed gender produce and reinforce prevailing notions of normalcy. E.P. Thomspon and Judith Butler have influenced a number of historians with their respective conceptualizations of theatre and performance, and so have had a significant impact on the production of historical scholarship. These ideas, inspiring as they are, can be heavy theoretical baggage to unpack in the undergraduate history classroom. Continue reading
The following upcoming events may be of interest to our readers (click on ‘continue reading’ below for full descriptions):
1) Call for Participants: Teaching History in Diverse Venues: Toronto, Nov. 4 – submission deadline Oct 4.
2) Thought Exchange (History Matters) – Oct 14
3) CFP: History 2.0: Active History Roundtable on new media
4) This week in the Active History blogosphere!
If you have an announcement that you would like included in this weekly dispatch, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Continue reading
The co-coordinators for the Active History/Histoire Engagée CHA Working Group are calling for papers for a proposed round table for the CHA Annual Meeting to be held in May of 2011 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The Working Group helps coordinates the activities of members of Active History (for more, see www.activehistory.ca) who strive for a practice of history that emphasizes collegiality, builds community among active historians and other members of communities, and recognizes the public responsibilities of the historian.
Our proposed round table, will, we hope, trigger wider discussion about the current opportunities and challenges that new media provide historians working in a discipline that is undergoing significant change. Media forms such as blogs, online journals, personal web sites, podcasts and online conferencing abilities have, in many ways, democratized and diversified how historians engage with each other and the wider public. Continue reading
It’s that time again. Municipalities across Ontario are gearing up for the October 25th municipal elections. Along with the lawn signs, debates in local community centres, door-to-door canvassing, and the usual issues of property taxes, jobs, garbage collection and pot-holes, the topic of municipal heritage preservation has entered the political landscape.
Under the Ontario Heritage Act municipalities can pass by-laws to formally designate properties of cultural heritage value or interest. Formal designation of heritage properties is one way of publicly acknowledging a property’s heritage value to a community. Properties can be designated individually or as part of a larger area or Heritage Conservation District. The protection and preservation of a community’s built heritage is therefore primarily a municipal concern and varies widely from community to community. In Ontario municipalities like Cambridge, Niagara Falls, and Toronto have adopted Heritage Master Plans to enhance their ability to protect the community’s heritage resources. The City of Brantford, on the other hand, recently completed demolition of 41 buildings in its downtown, believed to have been the longest stretch of pre-confederation buildings left in Canada. Continue reading
You are cleaning out the attic of your house and find a diary from the early 1900s written by a distant relative. What do you do with the diary? How do you make it useful to the general public? Donating it to a museum or an archive is a good start. However, in order for the diary to be useful to a wider audience it needs to be transcribed. A transcribed document can be made full text searchable, copies can be made of the text, and the entire document becomes accessible to a wider audience. Transcription can be a time consuming and a painstaking process. But, once a document has been transcribed its usefulness increases exponentially. Continue reading
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
A few months ago the American Radio Works posted a very interesting podcast on the art of making radio documentaries. The podcast included a live presentation given by Stephen Smith and John Biewen about a new book Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound. While the whole discussion is very interesting, the second half focuses on Smith’s essay in the book on making historical documentaries: “Living History”. Smith made a number of documentaries about 20th Century American history using archival sound. For example, he used the Presidential tapes from Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon in The President Calling to show the human side of high politics, by focusing on how presidents persuaded other individuals over the phone. In another documentary he followed the legal career of the first African American Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall: Before the court.
As these two topics suggest, using archival sound clips, instead of oral history interviews, might limit historians to focus on the great men and women of the 20th century, as most of us don’t leave hours of audio tape behind. Smith and his co-producer Katie Ellis did a third documentary: Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches which shifts the focus away from those with power to the great orators of a social movement. Looking through the list of documentaries on the American Radio Works Website, there are a lot of other projects that look at history in different ways, including ones that use oral history. A particularly good one that I’ve had the chance to listen to is The Great Textbook War on the early days of the Culture Wars in West Virginia in 1974. It does a great good job presenting both sides of the struggle through a mix of news recordings from 1974 and oral history interviews. Continue reading