The latest issue of The Canadian Historical Review has as its theme: Environmental History. The issue, and this essay by Swedish environmental historian Sverker Sörlin, look to be an interesting read: Continue reading Environmental History: Finally, we catch the Swedes …
Governor General David Johnston participated in the re-dedication ceremony today that was part of the National Remembrance Ceremony at the National War Memorial (above). He delivered what I thought was one of the finest speeches I’ve heard a G-G deliver. Click below to listen to the audio file as it was delivered. I’ve re-printed the English-only text below that that was distributed by his office. Continue reading AUDIO: Among the finest speeches a Governor General has delivered
Canada suffered 172,000 casualties in the First World War, the last being the death by sniper of George Price, shot at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 — two minutes before the the end of the war. But who was the first? Researchers at Library and Archives Canada have an answer. It was a Canadian serving with a British unit in the first days of the Great War: Continue reading Canada's first WWI combat death: Cpl Raymond of Windsor, Ont.
In a few days, we will mark 100 years since the first guns of August boomed beginning the First World War.
Why did it happen? Well, er, it’s complicated. Really, really complicated. So complicated that there have been, literally, thousands and thousands of books written about The Great War in several languages. And historians have argued amongst themselves – and often with the lay public — about its origins for, well, for 100 years. And they continue to find new things to argue about and talk about. Continue reading I'll take Cambridge over Oxford for books on WWI's origins
On Tuesday,the Canadian Journal of History published an essay by Yves Frenette, one of Canada’s top historians, which is sharply critical of the way the Harper government has “used” or, so far as the critics go, “abused” Canada’s history. Frenette’s essay is a good summing-up of the kind of critique which has been showing up over the last three or four years whenever academics gather at conferences, at their blogs, and in other fora.
Note to reader: Those links won’t click themselves. I encourage you to check them out.
As a political journalist (and history grad), I’m much more interested in why governments turn to history to help sustain their current political objectives. I wrote about this in a column destined for our papers on Wednesday and I wrote about this last month when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spoke about the history of Canada’s foreign policy. Mind you, I’m limited to just 625 words for each of these columns so I can’t get into some of the same great detail that Paul Wells touches on his book The Longer I’m Prime Minister … that helps answer this question about why the Harper gang is interested in Canadian history: Continue reading Why is history important to Harper?
Both his fans and his critics agree on one thing about Stephen Harper. He wants to transform the country, so Canadians will come to see his Conservatives and not the Liberals as the natural governing party.
By the election of 2015, he will have done much in that regard.
But to make that work endure, the Conservatives need history on their side. They need a narrative of Canada in which Conservative Party values are integral to the story. Voters who buy this history will then turn to Conservative leaders as the default choice in this century the way Canadians turned to Liberal leaders by default in the last century.
I’m not the first to advance this thesis. Plenty have done something similar over the last few years, particularly when the Harper Conservatives allocated millions to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. But this week, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird gave a speech about John Diefenbaker’s foreign policy and that speech, more than anything I’ve heard yet from a Conservative politician, neatly articulated the Conservative vision of how Canada’s history ought to be read or interpreted. Continue reading Harper's History key to a Conservative Century
The good news for public historians is that Canadians trust the interpretations they find in museums and historic sites. When the reasons for giving public institutions the most trusted status were parsed, respondents attributed their trust to the authenticity of the artefacts and the research that underpinned representations of the past. Professionals, they argued, have been paid to undertake the work of research and writing and are subject to levels of peer evaluation that guarantees they would get it right or face the consequences of public scorn. The fact their interpretations were supported by governments was sometimes deemed central to their trustworthiness, a disturbing thought given present concerns regarding the new Museum of History.
Just in from Google Canada:
Through the unique panoramic lens of Google Street View, for the first time you can explore the Prime Minister’s Office, find the secret door in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, and marvel at the ornate Memorial Chamber or the views from the Peace Tower observation deck.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage met on May 6 and decided to study Canadian history and how Canadians acquire knowledge of our past.
Here are the terms of reference for this study, as decided on by the committee at that May 6 meeting: Continue reading Politics of History: The Terms of Reference
In April of 2007, Alexandre Boulerice took issue with all the memorials he saw commemorating the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge, writing at a left-leaning, French-language blog:
Les autorités célébraient dernièrement le rôle déterminant des soldats canadiens dans l’immonde bataille de Vimy en 1917. À ce moment, des milliers de pauvres bougres se sont fait massacrer pour prendre possession d’une colline. Fauchés trop tôt, enlevés à la vie et à leurs amours. Continue reading New Democrat Boulerice on World War I then and now