New Directions in Active History: Institutions, Communication, and Technologies

Members of the editorial team are excited to announce that we’re organizing a conference. This three day conference will create a forum similar to our 2008 founding symposium “Active History: A History for the Future,” where historians interested in the practice of Active History can share their research, methods, and projects with each other. Second, as a primarily web-based and volunteer-run project, we also intend to use this conference to explore new directions for With 20,000 unique visitors a month, is one of the best known history-related websites in Canada. Over the past five years, we’ve published nearly 1,000 blog posts, peer reviewed papers, book reviews, and podcasts. It is time to revisit the project’s goals and look towards what the next five years will bring.

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Showing the human face of the humanities – the Humanities Matter Web Series and Bus Tour

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.22.51 PMThings aren’t looking very bright for the arts and humanities at the moment. In our current age of austerity, arts and humanities budgets are easy targets for spending reductions. In both the United States and Canada, politicians seem focused on cuts. During his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney identified the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts as programs that should be “eliminated.” Even after softening his tone regarding the arts and humanities, Romney continued to advocate for harsh cuts that legislators are still trying to pass.

Things are not better in Canada. In 2012 the Government of Canada cut the budget of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council by 14 million dollars. In efforts to make the most with their budgets, some Canadian universities are also restricting admission to arts and humanities program, like the University of Alberta that suspended admission to 20 humanities programs in 2013.

While the arts and humanities aren’t likely to disappear any time soon, there is an increasing narrative forming that the arts and humanities don’t matter. Some of us want to change the tone of this discussion, showing the human value of the humanities and making it clear that the humanities matter. Continue reading

Announcement: Approaching the Past Workshop

The next Approaching the Past workshop is scheduled for Tuesday November 29th, from 5-7 pm at the Zion Schoolhouse, 1091 Finch Ave East, Toronto.  The theme of this workshop is Secret Lives: Affective Learning, Using drama to teach history.  The workshop features performances and demonstrations that integrate teaching history through historical drama.  The event is free, but please RSVP to  Approaching the Past Workshops are sponsored by THEN/HIER, in partnership with the Archives of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and OHASSTA.

Announcement: Parler Fort Series The Monarchy in Canada – Why?

In the wake of this summer’s highly successful royal tour by Prince William and his new wife, Catherine – the future King and Queen of Canada – we pause to reflect on what it’s all about.

On Monday November 14th Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli, co-authors of Royal Tours 1786-2010 (Dundurn, 2010) will place this most recent royal tour in the context of those that preceded it, going back to 1786! Nathan Tidridge author of Canada’s Constitutional Monarchy (Dundurn, 2011) believes there’s a crisis in our understanding of the role the Crown plays in our government. He argues that the monarchy is a rich institution integral to our ideals of democracy and parliamentary government. What do you think?

Parler Fort is a series of themed discussions that examines the impacts of past events on our lives today. Featuring novelists, historians, artists and city planners among others, each session explores a topic in a way that sparks dialogue and provides insight into issues that matter today. Fort York National Historic Site is an apt setting in which to enrich our understanding of our city and fortify our connections with one another.

Admission Price $10 ($8.85 plus tax)
Free for students compliments of Dundurn Press
R.S.V.P. to 416-392-6907 ext. 221
Fort York, Blue Barracks. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Complimentary Refreshments provided by Fort York Volunteer Historic Cooks
Presented in partnership with The Friends of Fort York ? ? Twitter @fortyork ?


Call for Proposals: “Knowing your Public(s)—The Significance of Audiences in Public History”

“Knowing your Public(s)—The Significance of Audiences in Public History”
2013 Annual Meeting, National Council on Public History
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 17-20, 2013

In 2013 the National Council on Public History will meet at the Delta Ottawa City Centre, in the heart of downtown Ottawa, Canada, with Canada’s Parliament buildings, historic ByWard market, national museums and historic sites, river trails, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Rideau Canal, and numerous cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance. The program committee invites panel, roundtable, workshop, working group, and individual paper proposals for the conference. The Call for Poster sessions will be issued in fall 2012.

As Canada’s capital, Ottawa is the national centre of the museum, archival and heritage community, and its historical and cultural attractions draw 5 million national and international tourists annually. Ottawa’s two universities have strong connections to public and applied history. The federal government employs many history practitioners and creates a market for private consultants. With so many diverse fields of Public History theory and practice represented, Ottawa is an ideal place to consider issues and ideas associated with the theme of “Knowing your Public(s)—The Significance of Audiences in Public History.” Continue reading

Announcement: History on the Grand – People and Place

Registration Now Open for History on the Grand 2011: People and Place

This year’s History on the Grand Local History Symposium is being held on Saturday October 22nd, at Cambridge’s Historic and LEED Gold-certified New City Halls.  The theme “People and Place” explores the history of immigration and migration to Southwestern Ontario, and the ethnic and cultural groups that make up our communities.  Participants will enjoy presentations about different aspects of our local history, as well as presentations and projects by local school children.  The complete program and registration forms are available on the City of Cambridge website.  Local history and heritage groups will have displays and materials for participants to enjoy.  The lunch hour will also feature a walking tour of historic downtown Cambridge,  the resurgence of which was recently covered in  an article in the Globe and Mail.

“It’s a great way for people to learn more about the history of our communities,” says organizer Karen Dearlove, “and the contributions made by different ethnic and cultural groups to the diversity of our region.”

 Registration for the symposium, including refreshments and lunch, is available for $10.00 until October 14th, and $15 at the door.  Participants can register in advance at the Clerk’s office at City Hall.  For more information contact Lynn Griggs at Cambridge Archives Email: Phone: (519) 740-4680 ext. 4610 Fax: (519) 623-0058.

History on the Grand: People and Place is sponsored by the City of Cambridge, organized by the City of Cambridge Archives Board and the Waterloo Historical Society, and supported by the Waterloo Region Museum and

For media interviews contact Dr. Karen Dearlove: or 519-621-6374

Announcements of Upcoming Events

There are a variety of exciting events being held this fall: Approaching the Past, the Parler Fort series, and the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Conference.

The teaching history workshop Approaching the Past will be holding its first event of this fall on Wednesday October the 5th.  It is being held from 5 – 8 p.m.  The first half of the event will be held at the Toronto Archives and then we will also visit the Spadina House Museum.  The cost is free but participants need to RSVP.  For more information or confirm you attendance visit:

The Parler Fort series, a forum for citizens exploring Toronto’s Past, Present & Future, is an initiative of the Friends of Fort York.   On Monday October 24th at 7:30 pm at Historic Fort York, Parler Fort presents “Canada Invaded on the Eve of Confederation: The Intertwined stories of the Fenian Invasion and Thomas D’Arcy McGee – journalist, poet and Father of Confederation.”  Join Christopher Moore, David A. Wilson, and Peter Vronsky to learn more about these tense, interconnected Canadian stories that resonate with issues today.  Cost is $10.00 and students are free.  For more information or to register email or call 416-392-6907 ext. 221.  Future Parler Fort events take place on November 14th and December 12.  Details will be posted here.

The Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Conference is being held on October 15th, 2011 at York University.  This one-day conference seeks to address important gap areas in public and media perception of modern slavery and human trafficking issues, including post-enslavement rehabilitation, memory and trauma, sex tourism, best practices analysis, preventive measures, partnerships and avenues to counter the ways in which we all are connected to slavery through the consumer goods we purchase and consume on a daily basis.  It also seeks to illuminate a number of lesser known forms of contemporary slavery that are thriving at home and abroad.  These include domestic slavery, debt bondage, child soldiery, hereditary slavery, forced servile marriage and human trafficking for forced labour.

To register for free or to get more information, please visit:



New Paper: “Engagement and Struggle: A Response to Stuart Henderson”

By Fred Burrill, Concordia University

“The monster they’ve engendered in me will return to torment its maker, from the grave, the pit, the profoundest pit. Hurl me into the next existence, the descent into hell won’t turn me. I’ll crawl back to dog his trail forever.” (George Jackson—Soledad Brother, Black Panther, movement martyr)

The importance of educating students about past radicalisms is undeniable. In presenting prior contexts of rebellion, historians on the left seek to provide new generations with a vocabulary of revolt, to impart a sense of the vital necessity of taking up the challenge of the traditions of resistance that have shaped our social and economic world. Another undeniability is that this is no easy task: as Stuart Henderson has amply demonstrated, patterns of disappointment and ironic detachment are woven tightly into the fabric of mass culture under capitalism. And yet, I am perturbed by the tone and conclusion of Professor Henderson’s recent article, “Disappointment, Nihilism, and Engagement.”

Henderson presents his musings as an attempt to expand on what, by his own avowal, was “knee-jerk professoring”; in a response to a concerned participant in his class he condemned the seeming apathy of his other students as a kind of moral failure to face up to the mounting challenges of global environmental decay, war, corporatization, etc. His longer piece, though, seems to me to be only a slightly more charitable articulation of this line of thought. In setting himself (and by extension other self-identified “active historians”) up as the impassioned and ethically enlightened authority figure, crusading against the passivity of a generation that would rather spend the reading week playing video games than at a protest, I want to submit that Henderson in fact bypasses what seem to me to be more interesting and fundamental questions. What constitutes engagement? Can conventional historical work (lecturing on the Sixties, for example) continue to be understood as a fulfillment of our responsibilities as left historians? Where should we be looking to find active history? READ MORE

Announcements: We Demand Conference and Call for Papers Cultural Histories Conference

We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada Conference is being held August 25-28, 2011 at the Coast Plaza Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia.  On-line registration is available until August 17th, and on-site registration (cash-only) will be available at the conference.  For more information about registration fees as well as the conference and film programs check out the conference website or email  Also, don’t miss the banquet and Queer Cabaret, featuring MC Michael V. Smith, Performance Artist and Writer Amber Dawn, Singer/songwriter Kate Reid, Comic David C. Johns, Improv Theatre with The Bobbers, Hot Latin Dancers Naomi & Karen and Transgender Vocalist Jill Richards.

The organizers of the Cultural Histories: Emergent Theories, Methods and the Digital Turn Conference are now accepting proposals for conference papers.  This interdisciplinary conference is sponsored by the TransCanada Institute and the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory/ Le Collaboratoire scientifique des ecrits du Canada, to foster debate on new modes and methods of history and historiography, especially those employed or theorized by cultural historians, literary historians and critics.  Proposals of no more than 300 words for twenty-minute paper or panel proposals of three or more papers will be accepted until September 30th, 2011.  Proposals can be sent to or Cultural Histories Conference, TransCanada Institute, 9 University Avenue East, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 1MA.  The conference will take place at the University of Guelph from March 2nd to 4th, 2012.



Announcement: Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail

Re-enactors, historians, and quilters have started designing two 30-block quilts telling the story of how the War of 1812 affected First Nations and settler families.  Quilt patterns will tell the story of how women were involved in the War of 1812. Women on the battlefield helped pass water to the soldiers. In the camps, they were laundresses, seamstresses, and companions to the soldiers.  This community project will connect neighbourhoods along Longwoods Road. The Queen’s Highway 2 has a long and interesting history. It is hoped that this project will build interest in the many decades of stories. Owners of heritage barns will soon be approached about sponsoring a “barn quilt” like the ones near Wardsville.

An organizing meeting is being held near Delaware to plan for the Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail. All are welcome to attend a meeting July 6, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the Longwoods Road Conservation Area, 8348 Longwoods Road, near Delaware.  Anyone interested in the War of 1812, quilting, painting, and celebrating 200 years of peace with our neighbours to the south is invited to attend the July 6 meeting.

For more information, contact Denise Corneil or 519 693-7002 or Mary Simpson at 519 287-3566 or