Unwritten Histories

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Tag: Canada 150

Why Does Canada150 Give Canadian Historians a Headache?

Why canada150 gives historians a headache

*Danielle Robinson get the credit for coming up with this title! She’s hilarious. 😉

So, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, you know that this year Canada is celebrating it’s 150th birthday. While July 1st is technically the day that Canada was “born,” governments at all levels as well as a range of institutions have events planned for the entire year. I’ve mentioned a couple of these on various roundups, like the Canada150 series that many newspapers are running, featuring locals who made significant contributions to Canadian history.

All this sounds great, right?

So why is it that so many historians (and others) are endlessly grumbling about Canada150? Are we all killjoys? Do we hate Canada? Are we secretly lizard-people planning to take over the world? While I can’t comment on the last question 😉 I can tell you that no, most historians aren’t killjoys, nor do we hate Canada. But there are very important reasons why Canada150 is a very problematic campaign. So in today’s blog post, I’m going to talk about a few of the reasons why many Canadian historians start gnashing their teeth whenever someone brings up Canada150.

 

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 26, 2017

Canadian History Roundup February 26th, 2017

Housewives! Wage war on Hitler (1941-42). Canada. Dept. of Public Information. Toronto Public Library. Public Domain.

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

 

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 19, 2017

Dorchester Street, Montreal, St. James' Club on the other side of the Portico. 1881-1882. Arthur Elliot. Peter Winkworth Collection. Library and Archives Canada, e000996428. CC by 2.0

Dorchester Street, Montreal, St. James’ Club on the other side of the Portico. 1881-1882. Arthur Elliot. Peter Winkworth Collection. Library and Archives Canada, e000996428. CC by 2.0

 

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

 

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of January 29, 2017

"You Go Over Big With Me, Valentine", 1900-1960. Source: McCord Museum.

“You Go Over Big With Me, Valentine”, 1900-1960. C271_B8.14 Source: McCord Museum.

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of January 22, 2017

A poster advertising the film “Northern Patrol,” features Kirby Grant as a Mountie rescuing a damsel in distress, aided by his faithful dog Chinook, 1953. Library and Archives Canada, e010779201. CC by 2.0

A poster advertising the film “Northern Patrol,” features Kirby Grant as a Mountie rescuing a damsel in distress, aided by his faithful dog Chinook, 1953. Library and Archives Canada, e010779201. CC by 2.0

 

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

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Inconvenient Pasts: The Charlottetown Conference of 1864

Rex Woods. The Fathers of Confederation. 1968. Replaced the original Robert Harris image, painted in 1884, and lost in the 1916 Parliament Building fire.

Rex Woods. The Fathers of Confederation. 1968. Replaced the original Robert Harris image, painted in 1884, and lost in the 1916 Parliament Building fire. (Source: The Parliament of Canada)[1]

“Some nations are conceived in revolution, and some in negotiation, but Canada was conceived here in Charlottetown, right after a party.”

– From the collection of Island author and historian, David Weale

If you’ve spent any time watching any kind of Canadian media lately, you’ve probably encountered a reference or two to Canada’s “150th birthday,” or the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Likewise, if you’ve spent any time on social media, you have also likely heard a number of people who are frustrated with the Canada 150 celebrations.

In reading through these discussions myself, I was often struck by the disparity between the official histories, like, for instance, the #Canada150 campaign, and academic interpretations of the past. The former was so relentlessly positive, and the latter so critical, that it almost seemed as if they were talking about two entirely different events. It also struck me that if perhaps more people knew about what really happened, they might be more inclined to see Canada 150 a little differently. But in most cases, this kind of information is very difficult to find.

So in response, I decided to start (another???) new series on Unwritten Histories, that I will be calling “Inconvenient Pasts.” In this series, I’m going to unpack some of our common historical misconceptions, talk about what really happened, and discuss what we can learn from both the events in question and subsequent interpretations. To put it another way, I will be disrupting traditional historical narratives, reinserting some of the inconvenient parts that have been left out, and hopefully shedding some light on our unwritten histories (see what I did there? 😉 )

In keeping with the Canada 150 theme (and the requirement that I poke fun at Prince Edward Island (known informally as PEI) whenever I can, since my husband is from there), we’re going to start by looking at the Charlottetown Conference, where it all began. Most people, including the Prince Edward Island provincial government, believe this to be the birthplace (and time?) of Canadian Confederation. And as we shall see, what really happened is actually far more interesting and complex than our traditional story.

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of January 8, 2017

Mount Grady, Mount Burnham, village of Nakusp, and Rothwell Bay on Upper Arrow Lake, as seen from above Rothwell Point, on January 9, 1963. Arrow Lakes Historical Society, 1999-019-6

Mount Grady, Mount Burnham, village of Nakusp, and Rothwell Bay on Upper Arrow Lake, as seen from above Rothwell Point, on January 9, 1963. Arrow Lakes Historical Society, 1999-019-6 CC by 2.0

 

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

 

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