Unwritten Histories

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of December 10, 2017

This image features four little girls walking through a winter forest landscape. There are some bare trees and some pine trees with snow on them. Going from left to right, the first little girl has a white coat, a red hat, and red boots. She is carrying a book and a toy horse on a stick. The second little girl is wearing a being coast over a red dress that peeks out from the bottom. She is wearing brown boots, and a black hat with red ribbons. She is carrying a baby doll. The other two girls are slightly ahead of them. The third girl is wearing a red coat with white trim, a patterned grey dress peeking out from underneath. She has white boots, and a black cap with white trim. She and the final girl are carrying holiday greenery. The final girl is wearing a beige coat with red boots, and a red hat. In the foreground, there are also four birds.

“A merry Christmas to you.” Ephemera. 1912. New York: Gold Media Art. Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Literature. Toronto Public Library. Public Domain.

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Best New Articles from October/November 2017

This image is of a woman sitting in bed. She is wearing a cozy grey sweater and socks, and she is holding a cup of coffee or tea with milk. In her hands is an old book with text and illustrations in black and white. The photograph was taken from above, showing the woman from the chest down.

Because, let’s face it – who has time to catch up on all the journal articles published in Canadian history?


Welcome back to the Best New Articles series, where each month, I post a list of my favourite new articles! Don’t forget to also check out my favourites from previous months, which you can access by clicking here.


This month I read articles from:


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of December 3, 2017

This Christmas card is an illustration of a pink cabin in the woods. In the background there are green pine trees, and in the foreground there are birch trees. The ground is covered with snow, and there is some blue sky at the top. The cabin is viewed from the side, with a porch on the left., the main house with three windows, and either an addition or the back part of the house on the right. The sentiment says: "Christmas Greetings"

Christmas Card. c.1923-1928. This card is part of the Canadian Artists Series by Rous & Mann Ltd. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1991-12-38 Gift of Joan and W. Ross Murray, Whitby, Ontario. Copyright: Expired.

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A Jewish History of Christmas

This Christmas card shows a father and son from the 1870s, standing outside on a snowy hill. They are wearing wool coats in cream with red accent stripes, and tuques. The son is wearing snow shoes and is standing to the left. Next is his father, carrying the snow shoes. They are followed by a brown dog. In the background, two boys are going downhill on a toboggan. And further in the background there are pine trees topped with snow, and a log cabin with snow on the roof. The card’s sentiment is: “Compliments of the Season,” and in smaller lettering at the bottom, it says “Young Canada on snow shoes.”

Compliments of the Season, Young Canada on Snow Shoes. 1873-1878. Christmas card that was part of G. & W. Clarke’s first Scenic Series. Card has a scene of father and son snowshoeing. Child is a popular image used widely in Canadian imagery, known as “Young Canada”. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Arch. Ref. No. R11648, album 9, item 12 ; Copyright: Expired.

It’s always a little strange being Jewish around Christmas. When I was growing up, Chanukah wasn’t really a big deal. My sister and I would each get a gift (just one, not eight), some chocolate money, and we would light the menorah. My mother would make latkes, but I never really liked them (turns out the problem was her recipe, not latkes in general). Christmas wasn’t really a big deal. We did put out milk and cookies, though in hindsight, this was mostly for my dad. I do remember being convinced by my dad that Santa had to be real, since CTV News was tracking him via radar. But this was pretty much the extent of it. Because Santa didn’t give presents to Jewish girls.

But one year the impossible happened: Santa came! My mother, for reasons that I still don’t know, put out presents on the two living room chairs. One chair was for me, and the other was for my sister. They contained a board game, some other little things, and a chocolate advent calendar. It was magical. I was so excited. Santa didn’t forget me! And while from that point on my mother would always give my sister and I chocolate advent calendars on Christmas, our Christmas chairs remained empty. And yes, my mother is very well aware of how advent calendars work. She’s just repurposed them for our family tradition.

These days, in shopping centres, online stores, and social media, you’ll find a wide array of gifts and decorations specifically for Chanukah. From strings of lights with Stars of David and menorahs, to the hilarious Mensch on the Bench, the options are really quite endless. But this is a very recent phenomenon, as I mentioned last week. I just couldn’t keep  you guys hanging like that! So in today’s blog post, we’re going to take a look at the emergence of Chanukah as an important holiday celebration in North America, its relationship to Christmas, and the religious aspects of Canadian identity.


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of November 26, 2017

This is a vintage 1910s era Christmas card. The paper is slightly yellowed. The central image is of a little girl with a pinafore drinking out of a mug. She is standing in front of a chair, upon which a tabby cat is sitting. At her feet are an empty plate, and a kitten. The card is addressed to Gertrude, and says: With Christmas loving wishes. ruth-Freedom-Virtue – these, dear child, have power— If rightly cherish'd, to uphold, sustain, And bless thy spirit in its darkest hour!

Gertrude / Truth-Freedom-Virtue – these, dear child, have power— If rightly cherish’d, to uphold, sustain, And bless thy spirit in its darkest hour! A Christmas card from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Literature. 1910s. OSB-CARDS-0009. Public Domain.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Historians

Macro shot of a snowflake crystal, with extraordinary detail.

Do you know a Canadian historian? (::nods::) Are they impossible to shop for because they already own all the books? (::nods vigorously::) Then have we got just the thing for you!

Welcome to the Second Annual Unwritten Histories Holiday Gift Guide for Canadian Historians! Once again, I have compiled a list of gift suggestions for historians and other history professionals!

Some important caveats: this guide does not (with one exception) include books. However, if you do want some book suggestions, check out my previous blog posts on upcoming publications in Canadian history). If you are shopping for a history buff, I would highly recommend the 2017 Book and Gift Guide from Canada’s History.

Second, while I am Canadian, and many of the recommendations I’ve included down below are specific to Canadian history, this list should be helpful to history professionals no matter their country of origin or residence.

And third, I haven’t repeated any of my suggestions from last year, because well, where’s the fun in that? So, for even more suggestions, make sure to check out last year’s gift guide!

Without any further ado, let’s get brainstorming!


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of November 19, 2017

Woman (possibly Rosemary Gilliat Eaton) wearing a winter coat with a fur-trimmed hood and using photographic equipment to make images of frost on the windows. Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park

Woman (possibly Rosemary Gilliat Eaton) wearing a winter coat with a fur-trimmed hood and using photographic equipment to make images of frost on the windows. Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park. N.D. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton / Library and Archives Canada, No. R12438

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Canada Before Confederation: Early Exploration and Mapping. The Conference, Exhibit, and the Book

Exhibit opening image - Canada Before Confederation. Photo taken by author

Hi everyone! Stephanie here. I recently had the chance to attend the  Canada Before Confederation: An Exhibition of Maps conference.  The conference itself was held at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and we were surrounded by large model ships (and a giant squid) for all of our talks – I can’t think of a more perfect setting, considering most of the talks featured early modern European explorers and mariners.  Organized by Lauren Beck, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at Mount Allison and editor of Terrae Incognitae, and Chet Van Duzer of the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the conference itself was the culmination of an enormous effort that involved organizing pre-confederation map exhibits across Canada as part of Canada 150. These maps were included in a book written and edited by Lauren and Chet. The volume was published by Vernon Books and includes full-colour images of the maps, essays contextualizing them, and amazing bibliographies, all of which I can easily see using as a teaching tool in the future. Oh, and the best part – these books were handed out for free to conference attendees! Handing out free books with pretty pictures of old maps is definitely the best way to get my attention at a conference, it turns out. (If you’d like to check out the book for yourself you can find it here.)

Cover of Canada before Confederation

Cover of the book written and edited to accompany the exhibit, Canada Before Confederation: Maps at the Exhibition. Vernon Press, 2017.

The conference was absolutely wonderful. But since most of you couldn’t be there with me, I put together this blog post so that you too can experience some of the fantastic presentations I saw! I’d like to thank Lauren Beck for going out of her way to invite me to this conference, Carolyn Prodruchny for sending me her and Alan’s paper, and Sarah Beanlands, for sending me her entire powerpoint presentation when I requested some images to include in this summary. This just proved once again how amazingly supportive the historical community can be! Finally, I’d especially like to think Elizabeth Mancke, my supervisor, for sponsoring my attendance at this conference. Ok, without any further ado, let’s get to the history!

Note: Except where noted, the images of this blog post are published with the permission of their creators. Please do not reproduce.

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of November 12, 2017

Three young women sit in a snowbank in Gatineau Park. They are all smiling, and the woman on the far right has her eyes closed. All three are wearing colourful knitted sweaters with winter motifs.

Three young women wearing knitted sweaters seated on a bench in the snow. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton in the middle. Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park. 1965. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton / Library and Archives Canada, No. R12438

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Upcoming Publications in Canadian History – December 2017 & January 2018

Header image for Upcoming publication post - December 2017 and January 2018 containing six different book covers contained within the post.

Welcome back to our monthly series, “Upcoming Publications in Canadian History,” where I’ve compiled information on all the upcoming releases for the following month in the field of Canadian history from every Canadian academic press, all in one place. This includes releases in both English and French. To see the releases from last month, click here.

***Please note that the cover images and book blurbs are used with permission from the publishers.***

N.B. This list only includes new releases, not rereleases in different formats.


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