repost — Historia Nostra: Parks and Profit at Kejimkujik National Park is slowing down our publication schedule this summer, but we’ll be back with more new posts in September. In the meantime, we’re featuring posts from our archive. Thanks as always to our writers and readers!

The following post was originally featured on April 9, 2021. As Canadians hike and camp their way through the summer, Erin Isaac and Elisabeth Edwards’ post about Indigenous land acquired for national parks is food for thought.

Erin Isaac and Elisabeth Edwards

Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site is situated in Mi’km’aki, the traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq. Visitors to the park can learn about the region’s Mi’kmaw past by viewing the site’s many petroglyphs and burial grounds that attest to thousands of years of Mi’kmaw presence or by participating in programs led by Mi’kmaw crafts people such as Todd Labrador, who builds birch bark canoes in the park.

Yet, the history Parks Canada presents at the site is incomplete and obscures a darker truth about Kejimkujik’s past—the history of exploitation and dispossession that made the Park’s creation possible. Continue reading repost — Decolonizing Cottage Country is slowing down our publication schedule this summer, but we’ll be back with more new posts in September. In the meantime, we’re featuring posts from our archive. Thanks as always to our writers and readers!

The following post was originally featured on February 22, 2018. Since then, Drew Hayden Taylor has released Cottagers and Indians in print and directed a documentary of the same title. 

Peter A. Stevens

Photograph of a calm lake with a brown wooden dock extending away from the viewer. There are red and green leaves on a tree branch in the foreground.

Bbadgett/Wikimedia Commons

In Canadian popular culture, few symbols are as iconic as the family cottage. The summer home appears regularly in Canadian novels and films, and it has long been used by governments and private corporations to signify what the good life looks like in this country. Cottaging thus represents escape from the cares of the world, and immersion in a natural landscape that is dedicated to pleasure, relaxation, and tranquility.[1] Continue reading repost — Simcoe Day and the Politics of Reclaiming and Renaming is slowing down our publication schedule this summer, but we’ll be back with more new posts in September. In the meantime, we’re featuring posts from our archive. Thanks as always to our writers and readers!

The following post was originally featured on July 18, 2017 As Canadians mark Simcoe Day and the August long weekend, Elliot Worsfold’s post on the complicated politics of reclaiming and renaming remains as relevant as ever.

Debates over “renaming” Canadian buildings, universities, and other institutions have generated significant attention in the media over the past several weeks. On National Indigenous Peoples Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that the Langevin Block on Parliament Hill would be renamed the more perfunctory Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council. Trudeau cited Sir Hector-Louis Langevin’s involvement in the residential schools system as the primary reason for the building’s name change. In early July, the Ryerson Students Union and Indigenous Students Association similarly gained attention for their proposal to change the name of Ryerson University. They also cited Egerton Ryerson’s complicity in the residential schools system as the motivation to change the university’s name. That same week, a hostile confrontation between the right-wing “Proud Boys” and Indigenous activists at Halifax’s Edward Cornwallis statue on Canada Day sparked renewed calls for the statue’s removal. All these events prompted pundits to try to explain just why Canadians seem to be obsessed with the “politics of renaming.”

The critics of renaming generally cite the same list of arguments. Renaming institutions or removing statues effectively erases history. The men (for it is almost always men) commemorated in these places must be understood in the context of their time. By removing their names, you are robbing future generations of learning about their past. Why, they may even be doomed to repeat it.

These criticisms have been addressed elsewhere. My contention is that referring to this process as “renaming” or “removal” indirectly supports the aforementioned criticisms. “Renaming” implies a loss. “Removal” implies that something is being destroyed to make room for something else. Describing this process as renaming, I think, is misleading. Continue reading

Historia Nostra at the Fortress of Louisbourg

      No Comments on Historia Nostra at the Fortress of Louisbourg

By Erin Isaac

I first reached out to Dr. Amy Scott (University of New Brunswick) about visiting her in Cape Breton in February 2020, after attending a public lecture she gave at New Brunswick’s Provincial Archives. In her talk, Dr. Scott told us about the things her team was learning about 18th-century disease, injury, and lifeways from the grave goods and skeletons they excavated at Louisbourg National Historic Site. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about their findings, but it was the first time I saw pictures and maps of the excavation site.

Nicole Breedon and Marisa Forbes dig a test pit at Louisbourg National Historic Site.

My first encounter with skeletal remains from Louisbourg was at the Bioarch Teaching and Research (BART) Lab at UNB during their Open Lab Day in 2019. Under the watchful eye of graduate students, myself and other visitors were allowed to glove up and feel bones for places where cancer had metastasized or breaks hadn’t healed quite right. Continue reading repost – The Northwest Territories and the Manhattan Project is slowing down our publication schedule this summer, but we’ll be back with more new posts in September. In the meantime, we’re featuring posts from our archive. Thanks as always to our writers and readers!

The following post was originally featured on December 22, 2022. As the film Oppenheimer hits the big screen and renews discussion of Canada’s role in the Manhattan Project and the dawn of the nuclear, it is worth revisiting Sean Graham’s interview with Richard Van Camp, in which he discusses the legacy of uranium mining in the Northwest Territories.

Samurai armour at the museum in Fort Smith, NWT.

Fort Smith, NWT is probably not where you would expect to find a suit of samurai armour and sword, but at the local museum that’s exactly what you can find. When he first saw it, author Richard Van Camp started to think about all the possibilities of how it got there. The result is A Blanket of Butterflies, which is the first volume of The Spirit of Denendeh. This beautiful new edition, illustrated in full colour for the first time, tells the story of a young Dene boy and his grandmother helping a Japanese man recover his grandfather’s armour. Through the story, Van Camp addresses questions of colonialism, knowledge transmission, and the complicated legacy of Second World War-era mining in the North.

Historical Headline of the Week

“Echoes of the Atomic Age: Cancer Kills Fourteen Aboriginal Uranium Workers,” Calgary Herald, March 14, 1998,

To learn more about Richard’s work, visit him at

You can watch A Village of Widows here.

Continue reading

Fear of a Black Nation – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham
A landmark work when it was first released a decade ago, David Austin’s Fear of a Black Nation is now out in its second edition. In this episode, David stopped by to talk about the second edition, what has been added, and how the societal context has changed. He also discusses what made Montreal such a hotbed of international activism and politics in the 1960s, the legacy of slavery, and how economics influences these conversations.

Historical Headline of the Week

Celina Aalders, “Legendary African Nova Scotian Boxer George Dixon Receives Historical Designation,”, June 12, 2023.

Continue reading

Restrictive Immigration – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

Since Confederation, Canada has implemented a number of restrictive immigration policies, including on Jewish immigrants during the 1930s. Norm Ravvin, author of Who Gets In: An Immigration Story, joins the show to talk about one story of a Jewish immigrant coming to Canada and challenging those restrictions, We talk about researching what was a hidden story, how prospective immigrants fought against the rules, and the power of community.

Historical Headline of the Week

Jadine Ngan, “A Look Inside the New Chinese Canadian Museum in Vancouver’s Chinatown,” Maclean’s, July 6, 2023.

Continue reading

Building LGBTQ2+ Communities in Restaurants – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

Alex Ketchum, author of Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses, joins Sean Graham to talk about the book and how these sites build communities. They chat about what constitutes a “feminist’ restaurant, the cultural significance of food, and how the cafes’ business imperatives sometimes conflicted with their ideals. They also discuss the need to protect patrons, the role of racial discrimination, and how these sites are critical in the face of recent legislation.You can follow Alex’s work on Twitter, Instagram, and through The Feminist Restaurant Project.

Historical Headline of the Week

Tim Carman, “Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, long a haven for D.C.’s gay community, wins a James Beard Classics Award,” Washington Post, January 31, 2019.

Continue reading

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923: Settler Colonialism and the Structure of Racism in Canada

By Timothy J. Stanley

Chinese Immigration Act Certificates of the Fong Sisters and their Mother on Display in the Foyer of the Senate of Canada, Jiaqi Wu, Reflections on Exclusion: An Exhibition on the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923. Exhibit. Senate of Canada, June 5 – June 27, 2023. Photo courtesy of Senator Yuen Pau Woo.

Until its 1947 repeal, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, effectively barred Chinese people from immigrating to Canada and required all Chinese, including the Canadian-born, to register with the government. Failure to register made them liable to fines, imprisonment and deportation. The Chinese are the only group to which such regulations applied. As Henry Yu showed in yesterday’s post, the Act devasted Chinese Canadian communities and permanently marked the Chinese as outsiders who do not belong.

Continue reading

How Can We Reckon with a Future that Never Was

Photo of Yeung Sing Yew, the author’s grandfather, with his brothers, all of whom paid a head tax to enter Canada.

By Henry Yu

On July 1, the “Paper Trail” exhibit curated by Catherine Clement detailing the impacts of the legal Chinese exclusion of Chinese from Canada in 1923, will open at the new Chinese Canadian Museum located in Vancouver Chinatown. Having spent the last seven years of my life helping in some capacity or another to envision, consult, plan and implement the creation and building of this new museum, I hope I can be forgiven for asserting that there is an appropriate statement being made in opening both the exhibit and the new museum on exactly the 100th anniversary of the passage of Chinese Exclusion on Dominion Day in 1923.

Continue reading