Terry Fox Was an Activist

April 8, 2015

This month, Active History is pleased to present a series of posts by Jenny Ellison marking the 35th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. By Jenny Ellison A few years ago, I made a visit to Library and Archives Canada to pull files about Terry Fox. In a folder labeled “Terry Fox Marathon of […]

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“Setting Canadian History Right?: A Response to Ken Coates’ ‘Second Thoughts about Residential Schools’”

April 7, 2015

By Crystal Fraser and Ian Mosby As two young historians of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School System – one finishing her PhD, the other currently in his second postdoctoral fellowship – we were wary when we saw Ken Coates’ recent opinion piece in the Dorchester Review.[1] At a first glance, the title, in particular, had us worried: […]

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Spring 2015 History Matters Series Explores Sports History

April 7, 2015

The Spring 2015 History Matters lecture series takes an entertaining and slightly idiosyncratic look at sports history to mark the Pan Am games in Toronto. The series—now in its fifth year–is a partnership between ActiveHistory.ca and the Toronto Public Library.

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Vaccines and the Environmental History of Medicine

April 2, 2015

By Liza Piper Editor’s note: This post was originally published by The Otter and is the second in a series of posts edited by Tina Adcock considering the intersection between environmental history and the histories of science, technology, and medicine. In recent weeks, stories with pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination sentiments have appeared prominently in the news. They address the measles […]

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A Brief History of Vaccines in Colonial Africa

April 2, 2015

By Jessica Pearson-Patel As Ebola to ravage communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, and as international health organizations fight to develop a vaccine that will conquer the epidemic, the history of vaccinations in Africa seems now to be more relevant than ever. The World Health Organization has recently come under fire for a discovery […]

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Animal Matter: The Making of ‘Pure’ Bovine Vaccine at the Connaught Laboratories and Farm at the Turn of the Century

April 2, 2015

By Joanna Dean Many of humanity’s most virulent diseases emerged from the fertile intersections of human and other animal bodies. Cures also crossed species barriers, and in the crossing carried a taint of their animal origins. The University of Toronto’s Connaught Laboratories and Farm produced bovine smallpox vaccine from calves infected with cowpox, as well […]

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An Epidemic in Madness?

April 1, 2015

By Mat Savelli & Erika Dyck Contagious diseases are usually understood as physical illnesses, but the rather less orthodox idea of infectious mental diseases is worth considering. Historically, public health officials, immigration officers and well-meaning social reformers harnessed the language of madness, mental deficiency and mental illness to galvanize a popular response against the threats […]

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Personifying Pestilence: How Political Cartoons Shape Our Views of Disease

April 1, 2015
Thumbnail image for Personifying Pestilence: How Political Cartoons Shape Our Views of Disease

By Jacob Steere-Williams These are heady times for those who study mediated communication and social discourse. The January 2015 attack at the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the death of twelve people, ushered in a wave of reflections on the social shaping power of political cartoons in both form […]

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The Vaccination Experience: Historical Insights from Children and Families

March 31, 2015

By Mona Gleason The recent outbreak of measles in North America has again raised questions about why small numbers of parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, despite clear and commanding evidence of its safety and efficacy in preventing disease.[1]  Despite these outliers, the vast majority of Canadian families take advantage of publically funded immunization […]

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Quarantined but Not Forgotten: Combatting Vaccination Resistance with Historical Education

March 31, 2015

By Sara Wilmshurst I was lucky; no one asked me to glue lentils to my face, so I got to stand by and watch while a medical student was transformed into a smallpox sufferer before my very eyes. The makeup artist found that lentils and Rice Krispies made the most convincing pustules, when coated in makeup […]

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