Category Archives: History and Everyday Life

A History of the Toronto Public Library in Four Buildings

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Emily Macrae As public buildings closed their doors in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, public libraries across Canada pivoted to strengthen connections with communities online, offering virtual story times and lending out wi-fi hotspots in addition to adapting ongoing work ranging from providing reading recommendations to supporting Indigenous language revitalization. Toronto Public Library was no exception. In April,… Read more »

Miss Canadian History: An Archive Story

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Donald Wright Archive stories are stories about, well, archives, the things that we find in them, and the things that we know we will never find. They are also invitations to reflect on how and why archival evidence – from a routinely-generated source to a single photograph – was created and what it can and can’t tell us about the… Read more »

What’s the Beef with COVID-19?

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By Catherine Carstairs and Philip Rich As restaurants across the country closed in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fast-food chains stayed open. In the first quarter of 2020, McDonald’s Corp global sales decreased by only 3.4%. This is remarkable given that McDonald’s had to close over 300 stores in China as well as restaurants in France, Italy, Spain and the… Read more »

On the Bay’s 350th, let’s remember department stores’ contributions to colonialism and white supremacy

In this post, Dr. Donica Belisle, author of Retail Nation: Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Regina, discusses the ways that Canadian retailers have profited from anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism. She argues that capitalist enterprise has long profited from colonialism and white supremacy in Canada. This year marks the… Read more »

So long Dundas: From Colonization to Decolonization Road?

These are just two stories of many. With a roadway that stretches across all of eastern Canada, an opportunity presents itself not just to commemorate one life or history, but rather to use the road – Highway Two, which started out in Ontario as Dundas Street – as a heritage tool to substantially change how our national, region, and local histories are remembered. Renaming Dundas Street presents a positive opportunity to make a change.

If you’re not doing history to make change, what the f— are you doing it for?

By Samantha Cutrara How to you teach racism in your Canadian history classroom? Do you teach racism in your Canadian history classroom? Do you mention racist actions or events and then move on to the next part of the chronology? Do you acknowledge that there were ethnically and culturally diverse peoples in the Canadian past but fail to introduce any… Read more »

Making the Best of It, Then and Now

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Sarah Glassford and Amy Shaw A week or two into our respective COVID-19 isolations at home in Alberta and Ontario, we (colleagues Amy and Sarah) each received, by mail, fresh from the printer, our copies of our new edited collection about female Canadians’ and Newfoundlanders’ experiences of the Second World War. The title – a last minute substitution at the… Read more »

Congress 2020, Interrupted: Racism, Academic Freedom, and the Far Right, 1970s-1990s

Will Langford In 1989, psychology professor Philippe Rushton inflamed debates over discrimination at Western University (then known as the University of Western Ontario (UWO)) by outlining his racist theories at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For some, Rushton’s academic racism made him unfit to teach at UWO. For others, protecting academic freedom was… Read more »

Congress 2020, Interrupted: A Brief History of University Codes of Conduct

Will Langford Congress 2020 is cancelled. But before the conference is forgotten, let’s ponder the anti-racism Congress that never was. At last year’s gathering, in a brazen act of racial profiling, a participant harassed political scientist Shelby McPhee and falsely accused the Black graduate student of theft. Following an investigation, the perpetrator was issued a ban for violating the Congress… Read more »

Jean Little: Celebrating Friendship and Kindness

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By Catherine Carstairs One of Canada’s best-known children’s writers, Jean Little, passed away at the beginning of April at the age of 88.  With COVID-19 dominating the news cycle, her death attracted little attention. And yet, as we live through a severe epidemic, perhaps we need Jean Little’s wisdom more than ever.  Little created a world in which injustice was… Read more »