A Focus on Family: Creating an Exhibit about 19th-Century Archival Photographs

Jay Young with Alison Little

Group at Table Rock, Niagara Falls, [ca. 1857]. Archives of Ontario, I0011269. Part of the Family Focus exhibit.

Family Focus: Early Portrait Photography at the Archives of Ontario is a free photography exhibit on display at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto, from June 27 to July 21.

The exhibit, part of the Archives of Ontario’s Ontario150 programming, features 15 original and 45 reproduction photos from the late 19th century that depict a diverse array of portraits of Ontario families in various social settings.

I sat down with the exhibit’s curator, Alison Little, to discuss the process of creating the concept, selecting the photos, and why cute photos of pets have been with us for decades.

Jay Young (JY): First off, can you discuss the thinking behind the exhibit’s concept?

Alison Little (AL): I wanted to develop an exhibit that would connect a few different threads: family memory, historical photography, and the lives of Ontarians at the time of Confederation in Canada. This connects to a larger conversation about diverse experiences of the past, which the Archives of Ontario featured in our current major exhibition, Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150. The Family Focus exhibit examines the early days of photographic technology in Ontario as seen through contemporary family portraits. It’s an opportunity for audiences to see real people during a period of incredible change – families who would have experienced the late 19th century in very different ways.

JY: Can you tell me a bit about your educational training and how it helped with your work on the exhibit?

AL: My education has definitely informed my work at the Archives of Ontario. I hold a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Art History and Studio Art degree from the University of Guelph, and a Master of Museum Studies degree from the University of Toronto. I basically spent six years of my life and a lot of money analyzing different ways of seeing. Practicing photography at Guelph gave me experience with modern development processes. Having spent hours in the darkroom, I have a slight window into the work of early photographers. The University of Toronto’s Museum Studies programme then gave me the tools to become a storyteller: exhibit planning, audience testing, working with artifacts, developing panels, creating labels, and project management. Each of these experiences helped me take on the roles of curator and project manager for Family Focus.

JY: How did you go about selecting which photographs to include in Family Focus?

AL: There were a few requirements which helped narrow the field. I knew that I wanted to work with photographs from the Confederation Era , so the 1860s. However, given the rarity of photographic records from different photographers across Ontario during that decade in our collections, I broadened my search to between 1850 and 1905. Another parameter was that the exhibit feature family portraits, meaning I could only choose photos where some type of family relationship was represented. And finally, I looked for photographs which represented intersecting histories, and the diversity of experiences in Ontario during the late 19th century. So these factors led me to a few specific photographers represented in our collections, and from there, I tried to select pictures that would show the evolution of portraiture during that 55-year period.

JY: Do any photos really stand out to you as particularly memorable?

AL: I’m pretty partial to the portrait of the kids with their pet pug dog, taken by the Bartle Brothers – his face is adorable!

Three seated girls, three standing boys, and a dog, [1895-1910]. Archives of Ontario, I0053545. Part of the Family Focus exhibit.

I also love the ambrotype family portrait at Niagara Falls from 1857 – it’s one of the largest examples of this rare photographic format our preservation team had ever seen, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The image itself has so many connective threads: Victorian society, fashion, tourism, and environmental histories, as well as ongoing conversations about land use and national landmarks in Canada.

JY: The exhibit takes the visitor through the evolution of photography in Ontario in the second half of the 19th century with a number of different sections, from Early Studio Portraits to Outdoor Portraits. What influenced the exhibit layout?

AL: During the research phase of developing this exhibition, it became clear that I needed to adopt a framing device which would clearly illustrate to visitors how portraiture changed as a result of photography. The exhibit begins with studio portraits – this was how many Ontarians first encountered photography. In these spaces, our ancestors learned to pose for the camera, so we see a certain formality in these earlier portraits. The next section – Portraits at Home – demonstrate how changes in technology made cameras more accessible to non-professional photographers, and growing familiarity with photography resulted in more informal, intimate portraits taken in and around the family home. The exhibit’s last section – Outdoor Portraits – shows that the camera became much more common amongst Ontario families by the end of the 19th century. By this time, lightweight camera equipment, simpler development processes, and people’s common expectation that photographs might be taken at family gatherings yield fantastic portraits of Ontarians outdoors, posing confidently for the camera.

Alexander family, [ca. 1890]. Archives of Ontario, I0053551. Part of the Family Focus exhibit

JY: As you conducted your research on family portraits at the Archives of Ontario, did anything surprise you?

AL: I was definitely surprised by the sheer number of photographs produced by some early photographers in our collections; in particular, those of the Bartle Brothers from Eastern Ontario. Simon Peter Bartle (1875-1956) and Herman Arthur Bartle (1877-1958) were professional travelling photographers in Glengarry and Stormont Counties, and their fonds contains 1,880 photographs. These are primarily glass-plate negatives, and most are portraits – of individuals, groups, families, colleagues, friends, and communities. It was amazing to look through thousands of faces from the past and see so many similarities to portraits and selfies taken today. For example, the desire to include your pets in a family photo has been with us since the beginning of photography!

JY: What was the biggest challenge of curating the exhibit?

AL: It was difficult to limit the amount of information provided on exhibit panels and labels. As someone with a background in museum education, I wanted to provide the audience with as much context as possible. Sticking to a word count limit is a perennial challenge in exhibit development, but this show sits at the intersection of incredibly complex thematic material: technology, media, representation, family, memory, immigration, settlement, race, gender, and class. In addition, due to a lack of provenance information, we don’t know many of the names or histories of families and individuals featured in the exhibit. So I had too much information at some points, and too little at others!

JY: As someone working with archival collections, what do you hope this exhibit achieves?

AL: My hope is that the exhibit text provokes audiences to learn more about different experiences within Ontario’s past, and also to seek out the original records and their fonds at the Archives of Ontario to try and learn more about the people featured in Family Focus.

JY: Are there any special events related to the exhibit’s run? Why?

AL: We are thrilled to welcome Mark Osterman, an artist and instructor from the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, who will give a special presentation on early photographic processes on Thursday July 6, 2017 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the St. Lawrence Lounge, adjacent to the John B. Aird Gallery in the Macdonald Block at 900 Bay St., Toronto. Mark is an expert photographic historian and artist who is an internationally-recognized authority on early photographic technologies. Mark’s audience will learn a lot about the technical processes behind the photos in Family Focus and hear from a real expert on the subject!

There will also be an opportunity to tour the exhibit with me as curator – I’ll be leading a guided visit of Family Focus on Thursday July 13 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the John B. Aird Gallery in the Macdonald Block at 900 Bay St., Toronto. Visitors will have a chance to hear more about the larger historical themes tying all the images together, and ask questions about the Archives of Ontario’s photographic collections.

JY: What’s your biggest takeaway from curating this exhibit?

AL: Apart from practical lessons (always write down the container number of any image which catches your eye during research), curating this exhibit has made clear the importance of seeking out multiple narratives from the past. It’s not enough to create an exhibit which features the history of a single individual or family. By featuring many different experiences, which speak to a plurality of identities and communities, a curator can create an inclusive space where audiences can choose how they want to engage with the past.

Family Focus: Early Portrait Photography at the Archives of Ontario is on display at the John B. Aird Gallery from June 27 to July 21. To find out more about the exhibit, please visit the Archives’ website.

Remember I Resist I Redraw #06: Pride Has Always Been Political

In January, the Graphic History Collective (GHC) launched Remember | Resist | Redraw: A Radical History Poster Project to intervene in the Canada 150 conversation.

Earlier this month we released Poster #06 by Kara Sievewright and Gary Kinsman, which examines LGBTQ2 resistance and the political history of Pride in Canada.

We hope that Remember | Resist | Redraw encourages people to critically examine history in ways that can fuel our radical imaginations and support struggles for radical change in 2017 and beyond. Learn more about how you can support the project on our website, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Pride Has Always Been Political

Poster by Kara Sievewright

Introduction by Gary Kinsman

I am delighted to introduce Kara Sievewright’s wonderful poster, “Pride Has Always Been Political,” that vividly captures our movements in history. For those unfamiliar with Pride, it started off as the celebration of the rebellious origins of the queer and trans liberation movements in resistance to police repression in the later 1960s—ranging from the Compton’s cafeteria riot in San Francisco in 1966 to the more celebrated Stonewall riots in June 1969. The police have been a major vehicle for enforcing heterosexual hegemony and the two-gender binary system. Continue reading

Decolonize 1867 at the CHA: Part 2: Keep the Conversation Going

By Stacy Nation-Knapper and Kathryn Magee Labelle

On 28 May 2017 participants gathered at the Canadian Historical Association’s annual conference to join a conversation about the Confederation of Canada. Specifically, we asked attendees to consider ways that we might decolonize not only the events of 150 years ago, but simultaneously the society we live in today.

This blog post is meant to re-cap the event for those who could not attend and to encourage us to continue to think critically about 1867, the implications of Confederation for Indigenous people, and the Canadian community as a whole. Continue reading

“In Defense of … “: Historical Thinking and Cultural Appropriation

By Andrew Nurse

This is the second essay in a three part series on historical thinking and cultural appropriation. For the first part in the series, click here.

One of the key characteristics of the commentaries that defend cultural appropriation is that they come in the guise of history. A friend sent me one today that referred back to Elvis and so looks, on its surface, almost history-like. The problem, of course, is that references to the past don’t constitute either history or historical thinking. Instead, in this case, it involved more a conscription of the past into the service of an argument about the present. The author concluded that Elvis’ popularity demonstrates that cultural appropriation is good.

Historians, of course, don’t ever make such arguments and we spend a great deal of time warning our students, the general public, and just about anyone who will listen, against this type of thinking. As anyone who has taken History 101 knows, the historical question is not “is Elvis a good singer?” but why did Elvis become popular? What does his popularity tell us about the development of modern music and culture? What led people to think he was good in, say, comparison to other musicians who were playing the same type of music?

This was one of the points I tried to make in my previous post about historical thinking and cultural appropriation. In it, I tried to argue that the tools of historical thinking are not some sort of golden key that solves all problems and resolves all controversy. Instead, I tried to show that historical thinking provided a series of tools that allowed us to deepen our understanding of the debate surrounding – and the issue of — cultural appropriation and, ideally, to redirect the discussion.

This post is the second in a series on this same issue and in it I will pick up on the argument I made in the last one. Here I will ask: how would an historian approach the issue of cultural appropriation? Different historians will develop different perspectives, but if we were to take historical thinking seriously and use its tools to explore and analyze this issue, what would that exploration/analysis look like?  Continue reading

Immigration and White Supremacy: Past and Present

The Gatekeepers, circa 1907. Saturday Sunset (Vancouver), 24 August 1907.

David Atkinson

Nativism continues to hide in plain sight in Canada. Martin Collacott’s recent editorial on immigration in the Vancouver Sun resuscitates the same xenophobic ideas that animated white supremacists in British Columbia a century ago. While he conceals the source of his anxiety with terms like “visible minorities” and “newcomers,” his arguments represent a thinly veiled invocation of “Yellow Peril” rhetoric that was commonplace in the province during the early twentieth century. Like many contemporary critics of immigration in both North America and Europe, Collacott tries to disguise these antiquated racial ideas with euphemisms and expressions of socio-economic anxiety, but the fact remains; this is old wine in an old bottle.

Previous advocates of a “White Canada” regularly deployed the same arguments in their efforts to restrict Asian and other non-white immigration. For example, Collacott’s core contention that Canada will become the first country to “voluntarily allow its population to be largely replaced by people from elsewhere” was a constant refrain of the anti-Asian exclusion movement in British Columbia (and elsewhere) during the early twentieth century.

Prominent lawyer Charles Wilson K.C. expressed the same idea when testifying before the Royal Commission on Chinese and Japanese Immigration on behalf of the province in 1902. Decrying the supposed flood of Asian immigrants to B.C., Wilson implored the commissioners to “preserve one of the fairest portions of the earth’s surface for the Canadian people, and not allow it to be wrested from them, not by conquest, but simply by engulfing us in the rising tide of oriental immigration.”

This widespread fear of impending white elimination was driven partly by apprehensions about the province’s geographical proximity to Asia, and partly by its isolation from other Canadian population centres. However, it was the irrational fear of an overwhelming Asian influx that truly chilled the blood of provincial exclusionists. As Vancouver City M.P. Herbert Henry Stevens warned during a public demonstration against the disembarkation of South Asian passengers from the Komagata Maru in June 1914, “at our doors there are 800 millions of Asiatics….the very least tremor from that source would unquestionably swamp us by weight of numbers.”

As Collacott’s editorial suggests, this fear of racial replacement is not simply a historical curiosity. Contemporary white supremacists are especially enamored of this notion of white “erasure”—or “white genocide.” Continue reading

Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories Twitter Conference

Beyond 150 Logo

La version française suit l’anglais

The Active History editorial team is excited to announce that in collaboration with Unwritten Histories, Canada’s History Society, and the Wilson Institute we’re organizing the first-ever Canadian History Twitter Conference. Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories will take place on Twitter August 24-25, 2017.

With this conference we hope to diversify the historical narrative and uplift marginalized historical perspectives. This event is designed to encourage collaboration, public engagement, and spark discussion about Canada’s history in a way that is accessible to everyone.

The format of the conference is modeled after the Public Archaeology Twitter Conference. Designed with no conference fees and no travel costs the online platform of Beyond 150 aims to breakdown barriers and stimulate discussion across the country and across multiple disciplines.

During the Beyond 150 conference each presenter will be allocated a fifteen minute period to present their work in a 12-15 tweet conference paper.  This presentation will be followed by an additional fifteen minute period for discussion and questions. Presentation tweets can be text based (within the 140-character limit), consist of slides and/or graphics, or combine both approaches. A presenters guide with information about tweet formatting and guidelines be released prior to the conference.

The conference theme #Beyond150CA is rooted in a desire to critically discuss the historical interpretation of Canada.  This is particular relevant in 2017 – the year of celebrating Canada that has been rife with controversy around historical narratives. Beyond 150 aims to extend conversation beyond mainstream historical tropes and engage critically with the varied, diverse, and storied past of the land we now call Canada.

Call For Proposals:

Abstracts are now being accepted for “Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories”, the first-ever Canadian History Twitter Conference to be held on August 24th and 25th, 2017.

We welcome proposals on a range of topics including:

  • Public and applied history
  • Active History
  • Open-Access and community-based history
  • Digital history
  • History education
  • Indigenous history
  • The history of racialized and marginalized communities
  • Gender history
  • The History of Sexuality
  • Queer* history
  • Labour history and the history of class

We are also open to proposals on other topics that address the theme of Beyond 150 in some way. We would especially welcome papers by and from female, non-binary, Indigenous, POC, queer*, and other minority scholars and communities.  Submissions in English or French are welcome.

While this is a history conference, this platform is open to anyone (inside and outside academia) engaged in Canadian history, including, but not limited to: academic historians, public historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, museum curators, archivists, and genealogists.

Details on the logistics of a Twitter Conference can be found on the Beyond 150 Conference Website.

Questions or inquiries about this conference can be made to beyond150ca@gmail.com.

Proposals should be submitted no later than July 21, 2017. Interested presenters should submit their proposal using the Google Form at the bottom of this page:

L’équipe éditoriale d’Active History est heureuse d’annoncer la toute première conférence Twitter au sujet de l’histoire canadienne. Tenue en collaboration avec Unwritten Histories, Histoire Canada, et le Wilson Institute, « Au-delà de 150: Raconter nos histoires, » elle aura lieu sur Twitter le 24 et 25 août 2017.

Cet événement est conçu pour encourager la collaboration, l’engagement du public et susciter des discussions de l’histoire du Canada d’une manière accessible à tous, et tient comme but la diversification du récit historique et la valorisation des perspectives historiques marginalisées.

Le format de la conférence est inspiré par la Public Archaeology Twitter Conference. Conçue sans frais de conférence ni de voyage, la plate-forme en ligne vise à éliminer les obstacles et à stimuler une discussion multidisciplinaire à travers le pays.

Au cours de la conférence Au-delà de 150, chaque conférencier recevra une période de quinze minutes pour présenter son travail dans un document de conférence de 12 à 15 tweets. Cette présentation sera suivie d’une période supplémentaire de quinze minutes pour discussion et questions.

Les tweets qui composent la présentation peuvent être textuels (dans la limite de 140 caractères), graphiques, ou une combinaison des deux approches. Une guide de présentation expliquant comment présenter sur Twitter et un sommaire de chaque présentation seront publiés avant la conférence.

Le thème de la conférence Au-delà de 150 est enraciné dans le désir de discuter de manière critique l’interprétation historique du Canada. Ceci est particulièrement important dans le contexte des célébrations du Canada qui ont suscité des controverses autour des récits historiques. Au-delà de 150 vise à élargir la conversation au-delà des clichés historiques traditionnelles et à s’engager de manière critique avec le passé varié, diversifié et documenté du pays que nous appelons maintenant le Canada.

Appel à communications

Les résumés sont maintenant acceptés pour « Au-delà de 150: Raconter nos histoires, » la toute première conférence sur Twitter au sujet de l’histoire canadienne, qui se tiendra les 24 et 25 août 2017.

Nous accueillons des propositions sur une gamme de sujets, y compris:

  • histoire publique et appliquée
  • histoire engagée
  • libre accès et l’histoire communautaire
  • histoire numérique
  • histoire de l’éducation
  • histoire autochtone
  • histoire des communautés racialisées et marginalisées
  • histoire du genre
  • histoire de la sexualité
  • histoire Queer *
  • histoire du travail

Nous sommes également ouverts à des propositions sur d’autres sujets qui abordent le thème  Au-delà de 150.

Nous accueillons particulièrement des articles par des femmes, non-binaires, Autochtones, minoritaires, queer*, et autres membres des communautés scolaires minoritaires et sous-représentés.

Bien qu’il s’agisse d’une conférence d’histoire, cette plateforme est ouverte à toute personne  engagée dans l’histoire du Canada, y compris, mais sans s’y limiter, les historiens universitaires, les historiens travaillant avec le public, les archéologues, les anthropologues, les conservateurs de musées, les archivistes et les généalogistes.

Plus d’informations sont disponibles sur notre site web, Beyond 150 Conference Website. Des questions sur cette conférence peuvent être soumises par courriel à l’adresse suivante :   beyond150ca@gmail.com. La traduction française du site web sera bientôt disponible.

Les propositions de communication doivent être soumis au plus tard le 21 juillet 2017. Les conférenciers intéressés peuvent soumettre une proposition en utilisant le Formulaire Google suivant:

Active History in Solitude

      1 Comment on Active History in Solitude

Sean Kheraj

Next month, I will start my first sabbatical. To prepare, I just finished reading Michael Harris’s new book, Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World. The book came out in late April just as my teaching semester wrapped up. The timing couldn’t be better.

Sabbaticals are another part of the professional life of academics that are difficult to explain to friends and family who do not work in academia. So, you get paid not to work for an entire year? No. So, you just go away for a year and then come back? Not exactly. So, you’ve been fired? Uh…

As with much of the work life of an academic, sabbaticals are a tremendous privilege. They are also enormous opportunities and critical for sustaining scholarship and knowledge production. Ostensibly, they offer time to focus on research without simultaneously balancing teaching and administrative responsibilities. And as a result, they can be used as time to be alone.

As a historian interested in public engagement, particularly through online publishing (blogging, podcasting, social networking), the issue of time alone may be a challenge. Is there a place for solitude in active history? After reading Solitude, I’d say yes. Continue reading

Thanking God for … ? Historical Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation

By Andrew Nurse

Recently, a friend sent me yet another of those commentaries-cum-news-stories discussing the merits and demerits (although, the piece had precious few of these) of cultural appropriation. In short, the piece decried critics of cultural appropriation, which it treated as something of a leftist fantasy. I, more-or-less, ignored it, not because the issue is unimportant but because I’d become frustrated with the entire discussion.

After all, this is not a new debate. I’m not certain when I first encountered the concept, let alone the term, “cultural appropriation” but I recall discussing it in grad school … and that is getting further into the past than I care to admit. I recall being taken to task by a friend as I was beginning my career for my willingness to allow that there might be something wrong with the “appropriation” of culture. My view was, my friend explained, misplaced “identity politics.” The year I started working here at Mount Allison, a colleague criticized my concerns about the uses to which Indigenous cultures had been put by Settler society as a failure on my part to understand the nature of art and inspiration which, for creative purposes, necessarily drew widely across cultures.

This could be true. I won’t set myself up as an expert on creativity, but over the years my sense of the debate around cultural appropriation is that it has not changed much. There are those who are concerned about the ways in which the cultures of marginalized and colonized peoples have been used and treated by “mainstream” media and Settler society. They see it as part of a set of power relationships that often serve to reinscribe colonialism and marginalization. I’d put myself in this group. On the other hand, there are those who believe that good things come from different forms of inspiration, that the very term “cultural appropriation” is a misnomer, and that contemporary concerns about it are just PC run amuck. Appropriation has, they say, created the art that we all admire today.

What impresses me about this discussion — at least the interventions I’ve read — is that it lacks an historical dimension. I see this as a problem because historians — or, better, historical thinking — has something to contribute to this debate. This is the first in a series of blogs I’m writing about historical perspectives on cultural appropriation. I want to be clear about my objectives and intentions. My goal is not to say the first and last word on appropriation. I don’t think that one blog post (or, a series of them) will resolve a long-standing debate. Nor, am I trying to say that historical perspectives can solve all problems. Instead, what I hope to show is how the tools of historical thinking, analysis, and interpretation can contribute to this discussion and, potentially, move it in a different direction. Finally, my goal is not to be comprehensive. Instead, in each of these blogs I’ll aim for concision, making a few points that strike me as important as opposed to trying to cover all avenues of discussion. If I’ve missed something important … write back and comment on it. Let me start this series, then, by noting three points where I think historical thinking can make a contribution to discussions surrounding cultural appropriation. Continue reading

History Slam Episode 101: Science of the Seance

By Sean Graham

The humble Ouija Board, a beloved part of childhood slumber parties, cheesy sitcom plots, and top-10 games lists. Even though it’s just a board and disc, it can produce captivating evenings where people explore a mystical world. The idea that it is possible to communicate with the dearly departed is intriguing and something that, for a lot of folks, appealing. Human beings have always been fascinated by death and the thought that we can maintain our communication with the living from beyond the grave can, frankly, be comforting.

Where most people’s experience with a seance begins and ends with the Ouija Board, there are those who have dedicated their lives to the idea of communicating with the dead. In her new book Science of the Seance: Transnational Networks and Gendered Bodies in the Study of Psychic Phenomena, 1918-40, Beth A. Robertson introduces readers to some of the professionals who dedicated their careers to examining the science behind these mystical meetings where people tried to talk with those who were no longer in the realm of the living. Moving beyond the question of ‘is this real,’ Robertson explores the networks these scientists built, their strategies for investigation, and the gendered spaces in which they worked.

In this episode of the History Slam, our first ever episode with a live audience, I talk with Beth about the book. We talk about the scientists who conducted the research, how they connected with each other, and the ways in which the space became gendered. We also open the floor to questions from the audience and discuss the challenges of researching such a unique topic.

Continue reading

Pregnancy and Politics: Niki Ashton’s NDP Leadership Run and the History of Political Motherhood in Canada

Christo Aivalis

Last week Niki Ashton, a challenger for the New Democratic Party’s federal leadership, announced that she was pregnant, and that stated that “like millions of Canadian women I will carry on my work…to build a movement for social, environmental and economic justice for all.” The response to her announcement has been largely supportive, although some have questioned whether balancing these two responsibilities is wise, and others have attacked Ashton for the particular phrasing of her announcement based on a belief that her pro-choice position had her sanitizing the reality that she was carrying a child.

In many ways, Ashton’s announcement is historically significant, as there has not been a person running for the leadership of a major federal party while pregnant. But Ashton is following in the general footsteps of others. In the 1970s and 1980s, Parti Québécois cabinet minister Pauline Marois gave birth more than once, including while seeking  the party leadership in 1985. Likewise, BC Premier Christy Clark was in cabinet when she gave birth in 2001, and Sheila Copps was the first federal MP to give birth while in office in 1987.Recently, pregnant legislators have become more common, due in part to young MPs and MLAs elected in the 2011 federal NDP Orange wave and in the 2015 Alberta NDP victory.

Still, challenges faced by women like Marois, Copps, and Clark continue for today’s parliamentary mothers. There is no set mechanism to provide maternity leave to legislators, and balancing votes, travel, committee meetings, and constituency appointments with a young child is difficult. Additionally, the logistics around things like breastfeeding lack formal processes and accommodations. While there has been increasing acceptance of seeing babies on the floor of Parliament, rules around this are still unclear, even among the MPs themselves.

The history around political motherhood is a long and interesting one, and we can learn a great deal by focusing in on two pioneering women. Continue reading