Is Pre-Confederation History actually Declining? A Response to Thomas Peace and Robert Englebert

By David Zylberberg

In June, Activehistory.ca ran a series of posts focused on the topics discussed at the then upcoming Canadian Historical Association Annual Conference. As usual, Thomas Peace posted an informative analysis of the topics, regions, time periods and languages covered while Robert Englebert discussed possible reasons for the limited number of papers on pre-Confederation topics. Drs. Peace and Englebert are both skilled historians of pre-Confederation Canada who rightly perceive dangers for Canadian History as a field if it becomes overly focused on the second-half of the twentieth century. They use quantitative analysis of the CHA annual conference programs since 2004 to argue for a decline in pre-Confederation history. However, the CHA program is not the only metric to understand the interest of Canadian historians. Below, I will propose and briefly explore a few others, which suggest that the field of Canadian History generally places greater emphasis on early time periods than is evident at the annual conference. Continue reading

The War to End All Wars: A Look Back at World War One – A Video Series from the Department of History at York University

header1When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914, it set off a chain of events that became one of the deadliest combats in human history, known as the First World War. To mark the centennial of the start of this war, York University’s Department of History has produced a documentary series, entitled The War to End All Wars: A Look Back at World War I.

Comprised of six English-language episodes and one French-language episode, the series includes 14 of York’s History professors discussing various events of the war, including: The World at War, Canada at War, Women at War, Empires at War, Technologies at War, The Spoils of War and Les Canadiens français et la Première Guerre mondiale. “The series of videos in English and French, offers an opportunity to better understand the impact that the First World War had on Canadians and the world,” said Marcel Martel, Chair of the Department of History. Continue reading to watch them all! Continue reading

Alliance Against Modern Slavery: Benefit Concert and Inaugural Conference

It is our pleasure to announce the official launch of a new NGO – Alliance Against Modern Slavery (AAMS) – in Toronto on January 28-29, 2011. AAMS is incorporated in Canada on a not-for -profit basis as “Canadians Against Slavery/Canadiens Contre l’Esclavage”, and dedicated to raising awareness about and combating modern slavery, a practice which affects 27 million lives worldwide.

Get your tickets now for an inspiring, uplifting benefit concert for freedom on January 28 (7pm-10 pm) in the beautiful Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University where So You Think You Can Dance Canada was filmed. The freedom concert features motivational speaker Roger Cram as MC, TED Speaker and AAMS board member Kevin Bales who is one of the world’s leading experts on modern slavery, Survivor Natasha Falle, Glendene Grant (Mother of Missing Human Trafficking Victim Jessie Foster), Actress Singer Songwriter Kate Todd, Guitar Player Jeff Gunn and Janelle Belgrave of Peace Concept, Samba Elegua Drummers, an Anti-Slavery Art Auction, the Fashion Studio 7 filming crew, and much more. Continue reading

Strengthening Community through Digitized Local History

The most common question I get when people ask where I live is: “Why are you still living there?” I live near Jane-Finch and York University in Toronto, a neighbourhood better known for its crime and distance from key services than its rich cultural and community life. Over the past five-and-a-half years, however, I have learned that my neighbourhood’s bark is worse than its bite. I like where I live and a recent Toronto Public Library history project does a really great job at demonstrating some of the reasons why.

Over this past summer and fall the York Woods branch of the Toronto Public Library has been engaging with seniors and high school students to create the Black Creek Living History project. Continue reading

Dr. Georgina Feldberg, 1956-2010

The history community lost a great teacher, scholar and active historian this week.  I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Feldberg during my first year at York.  She was one of the professors in a graduate course on the history of science, health and the environment.  I learned a lot from her as a teacher and from her book, Disease and Class: Tuberculosis and the Shaping of Modern North American Society.  A few weeks after I last met with her, I heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. This came as a big shock to all of us in the history of medicine field and particularly to a number of my friends who Feldberg supervised.  Sadly, she finally lost her  four year long battle with this disease, leaving behind her husband and daughter.

In reading about her death and listening to the kind words said about her at the funeral, it occurred to me that Dr. Feldberg’s work provides a model for active history. Continue reading