Category Archives: History of Science and Technology

“Listen to Our Cannabis Constituency”: A View from South of the Border

By Phillip Smith I’m taking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals at their word that they are actually going to get around to legalizing marijuana, so my concern is not that they do it, but how they do it. I can’t claim to be familiar with all the intricacies surrounding how legalization is going to work up there, but… Read more »

Virtual Spaces, Contested Histories: A Retrospective of a One-Day Symposium on “Envisioning Technologies”

By Roy Hanes and Beth A. Robertson   Technological advances have historically been integral to creating inclusive spaces of learning, whether in schools, universities or public libraries, especially as the discourse has shifted from one of ‘charity’ to a human right. Yet how does one tell that story in an online format that is similarly inclusive and accessible? On Thursday,… Read more »

Virtual Histories of Disability and Assistive Devices

Introduction to the Exhibit by Dominique Marshall on behalf of Carleton University’s Disabilities Research Group Machines of the past hold many of the secrets for designers of future technologies. This is why in the 1960s, a mechanic from Gatineau with 2% vision, personally collected precious old Braille printing machines.  Roland Galarneau laboured in his basement for over a decade, in… Read more »

High Energy: Hydro-Québec’s Relationship with Vermont

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By James Morgan During the 1960s and 1970s, Hydro-Québec rose to prominence as a major producer and exporter of hydroelectric power. This later led to a mutually beneficial economic relationship with the State of Vermont when it needed electricity and Québec wanted to sell electricity. The exchange of power from Québec to Vermont changed diplomacy from the federal to provincial… Read more »

Science, Technology and Gender in Canada: An Exhibit

By Beth A. Robertson and Dorotea Gucciardo  What do a glass memory tube, an electric range, a botanical painting, a player piano and two different aircrafts have in common? This first Active History exhibit dedicated to Science, Technology and Gender will provide a few answers to that question that may surprise you. This introductory post marks the launch of a… Read more »

Who Was the Queen of the Hurricanes? The Story of Elsie Gregory MacGill (1905-1980)

By Dr. Crystal Sissons Who was the Queen of the Hurricanes? It sounds like a rather simple question doesn’t it? — and in a sense it is. The simple answer is: Elsie Gregory MacGill. But what does that really tell us about the title or the woman? Biographical research is the key to fleshing out the different facets of Elsie’s life…. Read more »

Trans-border Data Flow and the TPP: Haven’t we been here before?

By Scott Campbell   In the final weeks of the 2015 Canadian federal election, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) became a hot political issue. After seven years of virtually secret negotiations, the 12 Pacific Rim countries–including Canada–involved in the trade agreement announced on October 5 that a deal had been reached, but gave few details. The final document was not available… Read more »

Enlightening Technologies: Sunlamps, Medical Science and Popular Concepts of Health

By Dorotea Gucciardo   “Capture the vitality of sunny summer!” So read the headline of a 1931 General Electric (GE) ad, which encouraged Canadians to bring into their homes “the health-giving rays of the sun any hour of the day […] every day of the year.” Appearing in the November edition of Chatelaine, the advertisement enticed readers facing the start… Read more »

The People’s Telephone and the Internet Today

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By Robert MacDougall   It may be the networks I belong to and the feeds I follow, but—as a guy whose main interests are 19th-century pseudoscience, the history of the telephone, and WKRP in Cincinnati—I am often surprised by how much of the social media in my streams is devoted to tech industry news and speculation. Will consumers embrace the… Read more »

Lorsque Madame Voyage: Women and Air Travel at Trans Canada Airlines

By Blair Stein   Upon his retirement, former Air Canada President Gordon McGregor wrote that “certainly no 20 years in the history of aviation, and probably no 20 years in the future, will show such a succession of basic changes…as did the period of 1948-1968.”[1] He was not exaggerating. During this time period, airlines moved from propeller-powered aircraft to jets,… Read more »