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Antony Anderson: Learning from Lester Pearson as Canada Returns to the World's Stage

Book Cover the Diplomat

In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Antony Anderson is the author of The Diplomat: Lester Pearson and the Suez Crisis.

***** 

For nearly a decade, we have witnessed a season of diplomacy many of us would not recognize as Canadian; a diplomacy which—for those of us who admire how Lester Pearson served on the world stage—all too often evoked something very close to shame. In very consistent fashion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper walked away from the admittedly flawed Kyoto accords but without offering up any kind of plausible alternative and then did what he could to obstruct progress on confronting climate change. While our closest allies continued to engage with Iran, Harper broke off relations—a drastic move in diplomacy and which in this case had absolutely no effect on the issue. We saw the most autocratic Prime Minister in our history refuse to attend a Commonwealth conference because he claimed to be concerned about human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. He repeatedly snubbed the United Nations and then criticized the organization w …

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Lindy Mechefske: Food Stories Are Our Stories—and Our History, Too

Book Cover Sir Johns Table

In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Lindy Mechefske is author of Sir John's Table: The Culinary Life and Times of Canada's First Prime Minister  and A Taste of Wintergreen.

*****

First conscious memory: I am standing on a little wooden stool at the kitchen table in my grandfather’s ancient stone house in the Yorkshire Dales, rolling out a small lump of dough. My grandfather, a strapping, handsome Englishman, is beside me, working his own larger piece of dough, singing old Yorkshire folk songs. We are making jam tarts. Though I am barely three years old, I already know how to flour my board and roll pastry with a pint-sized wooden rolling pin. I have already learned to knead bread dough, shell peas, and bring potatoes and other supplies from the low shelves of the stone larder. Here, in my grandfather’s timeworn kitchen, I come to know love.  What follows is a lifelong love affair with both food and history.

Next memory: We are moving to Canada. My parents are packing up the possessions, my brothers, and me. We are leaving the beautiful …

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Why Non-Indigenous Canadians Need to Share the Burden and Historical Legacies of the Residential School System

Book Cover The Education of Augie Merasty

In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Kaleigh Bradley is a historical consultant and PhD candidate in the Department of History at York University. Her current research examines the environmental history of Indigenous lands and the effects of mining and development on Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. She’s also a co-editor of the popular history website ActiveHistory.ca.

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In the nineteenth century, near present-day Sault Ste. Marie, Chief Shingwaukonse dreamt of a teaching wigwam where Anishinaabe children could acquire vocational and academic skills. Chief Shingwaukonse wanted children to have these tools so that they could preserve Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language), and easily adapt to a modernizing economy and society. Indigenous peoples, with the help of church missionaries and government officials, sought the creation of the schools for their children, but the schools later became an instrument for cultural genocide.

The Indian Residential School (IRS) system began in the early nineteenth century with the missionary …

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Paul Yee: Canada's Lacklustre Response to the Chinese Refugee Crisis

Saltwater City

In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Paul Yee was born in Saskatchewan, grew up in Vancouver and moved to Toronto in 1988. He has written about Chinese Canadians, in fiction and non-fiction, for young readers as well as for adults. His first novel for adults, A Superior Man, was recently published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

*****

Real people                

In 1950, my mother fled China to Hong Kong, fearful of the new Communist regime. She was married to an overseas Chinese, so she would have been labelled a landlord and tortured for crimes against the peasantry.

But she didn’t come to Canada as a refugee. In the view of the United Nations, she failed to qualify as a refugee; the UN did not consider her unable or unwilling to return home and receive state protection. Refugees from China, it was argued, also belonged to the Republic of China (Taiwan), so they could go there. But Taiwan, in the throes of post-war re-building, could only offer limited help.

My mother reached Canada only after this country had repealed its law banning Chinese immi …

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Hayden King: Lines on the Shore

Book Cover Islands of Decolonial Love

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Hayden King is an Anishinaabe writer and educator from Beausoleil First Nation at Gchi Nme Mnissing. He is the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.

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Lines on the Shore: Stories from the Border of an Island Indian Reserve

On the north shore of Gchi Nme Mnissing, "The Great Sturgeon Island" (and otherwise known as Beausoleil First Nation or Christian Island), is the Big Sand Bay. It’s an arcing black and tan beach flanked by cedar trees and Muskoka chairs. From below the sand is consumed by the clear and bright breaking waves of Georgian Bay. It’s a feast overseen by cottagers, visitors, who through a legal and economic deal with the First Nation and federal government occupy this and many of the Island’s sand beaches during the summer months. 

Before the ancestors a …

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Sean Graham: How the CBC Began

Early CBC Logo

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Sean Graham is a William Lyon Mackenzie King Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, where his research focuses on the history of national broadcasting and Canadian efforts to situate itself within the North American broadcasting environment. He is also an editor at Activehistory.ca and host/producer of the History Slam Podcast.

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Radio—that thing a lot people listen to in the car when their phone runs out of battery power—hasn’t always been an afterthought in the world of popular culture. During the 1930s it was at the centre of the entertainment industry. In fact, it has been said that radio was so popular during the 1930s that during the summer you could walk down the street and follow the hijinks of Amos n’ Andy through open windows. Coinciding with radio’ …

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Douglas Hunter on the Dangers of Pseudohistory

Book Cover Chariots of the Gods

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Douglas Hunter holds a PhD in history from York University and is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo. His books have won the National Business Book Award and have been a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Governor-General’s literary award for non-fiction. You can learn more at www.douglashunter.ca.

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I’ve been familiar with pseudohistory since I was a kid and Erich Von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods?, the megaseller that proposed aliens built the Egyptian pyramids and were the geniuses behind advanced cultures of Mesoamerica like the Maya. Sometimes now I encounter it in published form or in television programs. It crops up when people email me or approach me at a talk I’ve given. Pseudohistory is the term I’ve settled on for an array of fringe historical theorizing …

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In Times Like These: On #elxn42 and the Suffragists

Book Cover In Times Like These

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Veronica (Nikki) Strong-Boag is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Professor Emerita in UBC’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and the Department of Educational Studies and Director of the pro-democracy website, http://womensuffrage.org

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2015’s unprecedented 78-day federal election campaign exposes the perilous state of fairness and justice in Canada. My war bride mother’s favourite adage in raising three children, "Don’t care will be made to care," is more relevant than ever. So too is Joni Mitchell’s more lyrical warning from 1970, a peak moment for so many equality campaigns: "You don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone."

Why, we should ask, is the 21st century still jammed with missing and murdered women, everyday threats to women’s reproductive choice and safety, pre …

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Emily Urquhart on Urban Legends

Book Cover Beyond the Pale

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Emily Urquhart is a folklorist, journalist, and mother and the author of Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes

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I have a number of deeply embedded fears—costumed employees at living history sites, open water, sink holes, airline turbulence and cougars are chief among them—but until I had children urban legends never frightened me. As a folklorist, I understood that these tales instilled order and moral codes, that they reflected social concerns, and that they were a form of entertainment. I knew they weren’t real. They were fun but also forgettable. Then, when my second child was a newborn, I heard the one called "A Mother’s Plea."

In this tale a recently married couple were driving down an empty stretch of highway when they came across a terrible car accident. The police hadn’t a …

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The Forgotten Parts of Food Culture: Unpaid Labour and Drudgery

Book Cover Food Will Win the War

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Dr. Ian Mosby is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University’s L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History.

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In the past two years, my 92-year-old grandmother’s world has become enveloped by the fog and confusion of dementia. Not only does she sometimes forget the faces of her own children and grandchildren but she’s often trapped between the past and the present, unable to differentiate between the two. Lucid moments are too often followed by fear, confusion, and uncertainty.

As both a grandson and a historian—a person whose life and work involves engaging with and trying to understand and even reconstruct the past—this is deeply unsettling. I never knew my grandmother very well and now, it seems, I likely never will.

The last time I visited my grandmother I tried to make up for a lot of lost time and bo …

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The Unkindest Cut: The Editor, Crime Wave, and Canadian Film

The Editor Film Poster

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Paul Corupe is a Toronto-based writer and editor, and the creator of Canadian film website Canuxploitation!

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At the same time that Winnipeg filmmaking collective Astron-6 premiered their much-hyped horror parody, The Editor, at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, one of the most influential Manitoban filmmakers was also preparing to get his due. Director John Paizs may not be as recognized in Canadian film circles as Atom Egoyan or David Cronenberg, but his debut feature, 1984’s Crime Wave, is one of our nation’s most distinctive cinematic works. Restored for a special festival screening that year, Crime Wave is an endlessly amusing post-modern pastiche that laid the groundwork for not only The Editor, but many of the genre films being produced by emerging Canadian filmmakers 30 years later.

When it comes t …

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Negotiating a Black Vernacular in Children’s Literature

Book Cover Up Home

Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Shauntay Grant is a writer and storyteller from Nova Scotia, and served as Halifax's Poet Laureate from 2009-2011. 

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nanny made blueburry duff
today afta’ schoo’

had a bigole bag a burry’s
leftova from las summa
frozen cole

she ga’e me two great big dumplin’s
an’ enough sauce to cova’ de bowl

she didn’ haf none doe 

say she need to watch ha sugah’s
e’er since christmas
when she caught diabetics
offa mum's lemin loaf

About a dozen grade 6 students at Nelson Whynder Elementary School in North Preston sit in small clusters: working groups of three or four, huddled around square tables, dissecting a sample from my newest collection of poems.

"You wouldn’ say last, we would say las—without pronouncing T," a girl tells me. She sounds each letter with clear certainty.

"L-A-S."

"I don’ sink so," a boy pipes up in …

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