Montreal Walking Tour: Towers of Grain

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Jim Clifford and Stéphane Castonguay will lead a walking tour on Sunday June 16 at 7pm starting at Victoria Square in Montreal.

Towers of Grain: Feeding Edwardian Britain

Silo number 1, built in 1902 in the Port of Montreal, linked the burgeoning wheat farms on the Prairies with the urban markets in the United Kingdom. New industrial-scale flour mills were built in Birkenhead near Liverpool and West Ham on the eastern edge of London between 1899 and 1905. On the Prairies, Ogilvie Milling Company, the British American Company, Grain Growers’ Grain Company and others built thousands of grain elevators to feed wheat into the railways. Railways and steamships linked these towers together. Settlers and farming in the Canadian Prairies required industrial technology from the start, and this provides an important reminder the Industrial Revolution did not stop at the city limits of Manchester, Glasgow, or Montreal. This walking tour will use digital materials to explore the transnational history of the grain silos in the Port of Montreal and Prairie wheat fields.

The tour will commence 7:00pm at the Art Nouveau entrance of the Square-Victoria–OACI metro station.

Please register for the free walking tour on Eventbrite.

Here is the current draft of the digital content developed to accompany the walking tour:

Uncovering the History of the Atlantic Region: What’s the Acadiensis School’s Legacy?

Paul W. Bennett

History matters more than most of us recognize unless and until it directly affects us. Yet it shapes in subtle and unconscious ways how provinces and communities are perceived in the past and present, and how they confront the future.  That applies especially in the case of Atlantic Canada, lying “Down East” and, until the past fifty years, viewed as mostly outside the mainstream of Canada’s historical tradition.

Two significant academic developments changed that outlook, both of which originated and were ‘hot-housed’ at the University of New Brunswick.  Since its founding in 1971, influential articles, research studies, and book review essays published in Acadiensis: Journal of History of the Atlantic Region, have challenged regional stereotypes, exposed buried public policy issues, and influenced how the province and region are viewed not only in North America but across the Atlantic world. Continue reading

Wine & War – What’s Old is News

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By Sean Graham

This week, I welcome Adam Zientek, author of A Thirst for Wine and War: The Intoxication of French Soldiers on the Western Front. We chat about how wine became a staple of French rations in the First World War, the perceived benefits of wine, and how it was transported to the front lines in such large quantities. We also discuss perception of liquor compared to wine, the role of alcohol in French mutinies, and the cultural legacy of wine’s role during the First World War in France.

Historical Headline of the Week

Brigit Katz, “Hundreds of Liquor Bottles, Downed by British Soldiers During WWI, Found in Israel,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 24, 2017.

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A Plea for Depth Over Dismissal

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Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Art Miki sitting down at the signing of the redress. Roger Obata, Audrey Kobayashi, Gerry Weiner, and Maryka Omatsu are among the people standing behind them. Source: Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre,. Gordon King Collection 2010.32.26.

Daniel R. Meister

Following his death, assessments of Brian Mulroney’s legacy ranged from “one of the greatest prime ministers in Canadian history” to “the most hated PM in Canadian history.” For those lionizing, Mulroney should be remembered for supporting free trade, expanding environmental protections, and for opposing apartheid in South Africa. For those vilifying, Mulroney should be remembered for neoliberal policies of austerity and privatization, stubborn accusations of corruption, and the violent military response to the Kanehsatà:ke Resistance (otherwise known as “the Oka Crisis”).

Mulroney may be divisive, but what prime minister wasn’t? Running down the list, I thought maybe John Thompson, but his Catholicism certainly was at the time (though this says less about him and more about the society at the time). Moreover, there is a tendency when examining political figures to portray them as either good or evil, with little room for nuance or depth.

Take Mulroney and multiculturalism, for example. He is either praised for passing the Multiculturalism Act (1988) or condemned for supposedly neoliberalizing multiculturalism.[1] In ensuring the passage of the Multiculturalism Act, Mulroney gave needed legislative basis to a policy proclaimed nearly two decades prior. Ethnic groups had been lobbying for such a move for nearly as long and welcomed the development. But the Mulroney government is also remembered for its “Multiculturalism Means Business” approach to the policy. This was the name of a conference organized by minister of multiculturalism Otto Jelenik, held in Toronto in 1984 and at which Mulroney spoke.

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The Curious Case of Canadian Television – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

This week I talk with Jennifer VanderBurgh, author of What Television Remembers: Artifacts and Footprints of TV in Toronto. We discuss the challenge of studying Canadian television, how to find old programs, and why television researches often rely on the public. We also talk about Toronto as a television Canada’s television production centre, how the city stands in for other locations, and how that shapes what Canadians see on their screens.

Historical Headline of the Week

Kate Taylor, “For CBC fans, TV history is just out of reach,” Globe & Mail, June 2, 2017.

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Sensing (everything) Changes: A Tribute to Joy Parr

By Jessica van Horssen

This tribute was also published with NiCHE

Not many scholars have the desire or ability to challenge Descartes’ first principle “I think, therefore I am,” but Joy Parr was not the average scholar. Her concept of “I am here, therefore I am,” mapped out in her final monograph Sensing Changes (2010), gave insight, energy, and direction to local, place-based, embodied histories, and made me think, “Descartes who?”

I’ve been a Joy Parr mega-fan my whole academic life. In undergrad, I used to go to what I termed “the Parr section” of the library so I could let her work lead me in a new direction for any paper I had due, especially in the history of gender, labour, technology, and environment. Her award-winning monographs, Labouring Children (1980), The Gender of Breadwinners(1990), Domestic Goods(1999), and Sensing Changes have guided innumerable students and scholars into new realms and ideas while challenging the fields of Gender, Labour, and Envirotech History. I never considered the possibility that I would one day work with her during my PhD, and that she would continue to have such a dynamic impact on my scholarship well beyond those intense years.

Sensing Changes by Joy Parr cover

Along with her field-changing publications, Parr was an engaged and inspiring teacher, which can often get forgotten or pushed aside. She took her role as a teacher seriously and it was amazing to be in her classroom as she challenged students to think deeper, supporting us through our journeys. It always felt like we were on the cusp of something so exciting. Continue reading

Opting for “Sexual Wellbeing for All”: Community & Sex Education in Alberta, 1970s and 2024

Karissa Patton and Nancy Janovicek

Cartoon of a pregnant person nervously listening to a caricature of Premier Danielle Smith, who is saying "Oh, yeah, for sure. Doing that will get you super-pregnant. Your folks probably should have told you that bit if they weren't going to opt in to health class. But the good news is that now you get to say you have "parents' rights"!" The caption reads "Alberta has seen a remarkable reduction in teen pregnancies. The UCP is threatening us with changes to sex ed that risk reversing that 40 year trend.

Used with permission from Eric Dyck Slaughterhouse Slough Comics

Eric Dyck’s comic lampoons a longstanding dispute on sex education in Canada: comprehensive sex education as crucial to young people’s health, bodily autonomy, and human rights vs. parents’ rights to make decisions about what knowledge and services their children’s access. Since the 1960s, students and youth have been vocal in the debates about curriculum on sex ed (Sethna 2005, 2006; Patton 2021). Most recently, they have demanded GSAs and defended the inclusion of education about sexuality, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. In response parents’ rights groups have mobilized campaigns to oppose inclusive sex education. These groups mobilise broad and valid concerns from parents about their children’s education but, ultimately, the social conservatives leading these campaigns use homophobia and anti-trans sentiments that target extremely vulnerable youth. Continue reading

Women’s Sports & Identity – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

In this episode, I’m joined by Michelle J. Manno, author of Denied: Women, Sports, and the Contradiction of Identity. We talk about Michelle’s personal experience with collegiate basketball, how personal identity mixed with team identity in sports, and how players navigate contested spaces. We also discuss how coaches police players’ identities, the role of Title IX, and how players assert agency within college sports.

Historical Headline of the Week

Shireen Ahmed, “WNBA’s Toronto Expansion will help Amplify Culture of Women’s Basketball in Canada,” CBC Sports, May 15, 2024.

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Whose communities? Provincial funding support for community museums in Ontario

by Krista Barclay

This International Museum Day (May 18th) is an opportune moment to reflect on the essential community-building, research, and education work that happens at local museums. A closer look at Ontario’s Community Museum Operating Grant (CMOG) program can tell us a lot about how the provincial government approaches the many kinds of communities that make up Ontario. Community museums steward local history through the preservation and interpretation of culturally significant landscapes, heritage buildings, and artifact and archival collections, but they are also hubs for research, learning, community events and services, and much more.

Wellington County Museum and Archives, Fergus ON. Photo by User:Saforrest, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

In Canada, community museums are places where residents and visitors of all ages encounter the history of this place. Many scholars have also shown how museums have been a tool of colonialism and sites of trauma and harm for Indigenous peoples. It is no surprise then that museums are specifically mentioned in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report and Calls to Action as well as in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Museums are called to acknowledge their roles in propagating and upholding white supremacist, patriarchal, and colonial structures in Canada. They are also called to support Indigenous sovereignty through repatriation and meaningfully engaging in the work of reconciliation and decolonization, both in their local communities and the field of museology more broadly.

Various levels of government across Canada provide some measure of (usually insufficient) funding for museums. In Ontario, the CMOG program has provided modest operating grants annually to community museums for more than three decades. It is a statutory grant set out by the Ontario Heritage Act and administered by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport using its Standards for Community Museums. Though it is disbursed annually, the program has been closed to new applicants since 2016 and its total funding has not kept pace with inflation for many years.

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Mobilizing Resistance: The “Action Patriotique” Movement within Montreal’s Haitian Diaspora, 1971-1986

Source: Centre International de Documentation et d’Information Haïtienne, Caribéenne et Afro-canadienne (the International Center for Haitian, Caribbean, and Afro-Canadian Documentation and Information), also known as the CIDIHCA Collections.

Virginie Belony

As the situation in Haiti becomes increasingly complex and challenging for many observers to comprehend, delving into Haiti’s past and the experiences of its diaspora here in Canada can offer valuable insights and examples of resilience, resistance, and community mobilization.

The election of François Duvalier as President of Haiti in September 1957 marked the onset of a period ostensibly characterized by political stability yet marred by significant human rights violations. This pattern persisted throughout the tenure of his successor, his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, who held power from 1971 to 1986.

While in exile in Quebec, Canada in the 1970s, many Haitians participated in a resistance movement commonly referred to as the “Action Patriotique.” The exiled Haitians engaged in organizations, debates, and critiques, particularly through printed materials, targeting the actions of the Duvalier regime. Additionally, they adopted a critical stance towards both the Quebec and Canadian governments for their support of the Haitian dictatorship.

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