Teaching Canada's History

Page 1

A special publication of Canada’s History Society

Teacher Anne Tenning

197 bold ways to

bring history to life for your students. Rewarding Risk Why you should take chances in the classroom.

Healing with History

Residential survivors share their stories. canadashistory.ca


Great Field Trips.


Display until March 31, 2010

Pre-order your copy today by phone 1-888-816-0997 or order online at HistorySociety.ca. Proceeds from the sale of each book help to support the activities of Canada’s National History Society.

Be Bold!

Published by Canada’s History Society Deborah Morrison Joel Ralph Mark Reid Nelle Oosterom James Gillespie Phil Koch Beverley Tallon Stephanie Barker Marie-Catherine Gagné Linda Miller Tanja Hütter Pat Hanney Vicky Lapointe

Publisher, President and CEO Editor Editor Associate Editor Art Director Assistant Editor Copy Editor/Researcher Editor (French edition) Translator Translator Web Editor Web Assistant Resource Consultant

PO Box 56060 Portage Place RPO, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0G9 Canada Phone: (204) 988-9300 Fax: (204) 988-9309 E-mail: editors@ historysociety.ca Website: canadashistory.ca Copyright © 2009 by Canada’s History Society. All rights reserved. Repro­duction without permission of the pub­lisher is strictly forbidden. ISSN 0005-7517 Member Services The Beaver, PO Box 1274, Station K, Toronto, Ontario M4P 3E5 Canada Phone: 1-888-816-0997 Fax: (416) 932-2488 E-mail: thebeaver@ historysociety.ca

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This project has been supported by in part by the Canadian Studies Program, Department of Canadian Heritage; the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Canada.

Joel Ralph, Editor jralph@historysociety.ca


e often speak of “teachable moments” — those treasured occasions that present an opportunity to prepare students for life outside the classroom. Consider this magazine a twenty-first-century version of a teachable moment. Teaching Canada’s History is a practical, informative, and entertaining how-to guide for any educator searching for ways to turn students on to history. Written by award-winning teachers and education experts, the articles offer countless tips, resources, and web links that will liven up your classroom, spark discussion, and, most importantly, make the past come alive for your students. How do you get your students thinking historically? Should you use controversy to teach contemporary history? How can you make the story of residential schools engaging for students? What was it like to teach in a time of war? How can you use technology to transform your teaching? All good questions — and all answered within these very pages. Teaching Canada’s history isn’t easy in this fast-paced, Twitter-filled, Facebooking age we live in. Students today are more connected and web-wired than any preceding generation. To reach them, we need to speak their language. We need to open our minds, and our teaching, to new technologies and new teaching methods. As teacher Joe Stafford says in his article “Rewarding risk,” good things happen to teachers who take chances in the classroom.


Canadian Postmaster: Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: The Beaver, PO Box 1274, Station K, Toronto, Ontario M4P 3E5 Canada



hat’s the lesson Canada’s History Society has learned over fourteen years of presenting the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Every year we meet teachers who inspire us with the work they do in their classroom, their passion for teaching, and their love of history. That’s why we’re so excited to share their bold ideas and methods, which are shaping the next generation of Canadian history teaching. In fact, these teachers have inspired the History Society to be bold in its own way. Teaching Canada’s History is a completely interactive magazine. Everything from images and text to ads and logos can be clicked on through our digital edition at www. canadashistory.ca. Each link connects you to additional information on topics you want to know more about. Throughout the magazine you will find words that have been bolded, like links you find on a website. That’s our way of letting you know that you can click on each one to find a website, lesson plan, or resource on our website. We invite you to read this hard copy on your own time and then join us online to share the excellent work you are doing in your classroom. It’s an exciting time in both teaching and publishing. Be bold!

Mark Reid, Editor mreid@historysociety.ca

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Editor’s note


4 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Teaching Canada’s History is an interactive edition. Go to canadashistory.ca/teaching to link to our online magazine. There you can click on the images and words in bold to access websites, lesson plans, and more.

Images with this symbol are interactive.


Pondering the Past BY PETER SEIXAS




Sparking Learning BY ERIC LANGHORST


History in the Making BY ANNE TENNING


Digging History BY ROSE FINE-MEYER




Six great tips to get students thinking historically.

How controversy can help turn students on to history.

Use technology to set students’ imaginations afire.

The stories of residential school survivors are powerful teaching tools for teachers and students.

History in your own backyard? Students are finding out about the past in a way that hits close to home.

Have your students relive the lives of fallen veterans.

Departments Learning Matters Devoted to best practices in teaching history. 6 Currents Standing up for Canada. History awards go big.


Making connections in history.

Your Story What do you teach when war breaks out?


Class Acts Good things happen when teachers take chances.


Getaway Ten great Canadian field trips.


Resource Guide Dozens of web links to the best


Album Making a firebreak.


history resources.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


6 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Learning Matters

An educational first

An issue devoted to best practices in teaching history. By Deborah Morrison


elcome to the premier edition of Teaching Canada’s History, a special publication of Canada’s History Society! We’ve been telling Canada’s stories since 1920, when our flagship publication The Beaver was first published by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The society itself was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1994 as part of a constellation of gifts the company made to the province of Manitoba. These included artifacts transferred to the Manitoba Museum, as well as impressive archival records that went to the Manitoba Archives. With the tax savings from those donations, the company established the Hudson’s Bay Company History Foundation to provide ongoing funding to support those collections as well as this popular history society, which would, among other things, continue publication of The Beaver: Canada’s History Magazine — the country’s secondoldest magazine, next to Maclean’s.

Since 1994, the History Society has initiated several projects of its own to broaden its audience and better achieve its mission of promoting greater popular interest in Canadian history. For the most part, the History Society has tended to focus its efforts on Canadians at home and in their communities. Over the years, we’ve provided support to regional and provincial historical organizations by planning professional development conferences, providing project grants to local initiatives, and establishing a partnership program that provides advertising and promotion of their activities in exchange for discounts and special offers to History Society members. The Beaver magazine is our flagship publication. It has a largely household subscriber base of just under 50,000, reaching more than 350,000 readers. Building from the success of The Beaver in 2004, we began publishing Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids. Aimed at children ages seven to twelve, the illustrated


Deborah Morrison speaks with John Ralston Saul and Peter Seixas.


Charles Hou once estimated that over his teaching career he taught more than 6,000 students. It still astounds me to think about that number, and to consider the profound impact our teachers have on our children. The History Society has long recognized that, for many of us, an interest in Canadian history is first sparked during our school years. One of the very first initiatives of our organization was the creation of a national awards program for teachers. We all remember that special teacher whose efforts and enthusiasm completely changed the way we viewed a particular subject. Our goal with the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History was to identify those exemplary teachers in the field of history and social studies ­— not just to reward them for their achievements, but also to share their strategies and inspirations with other teachers across Canada. Our first recipient of the award, Charles Hou, once estimated that over his teaching career he taught more than 6,000 students. It still astounds me to think about that number, and to consider the profound impact our teachers have on our children. Over the years we’ve honoured over two hundred teachers through this program, and we’ve had the opportunity to learn more about thousands of others who have been nominated. It’s been our experience that teachers understand the significant role they play. We also know they face challenges in demonstrating the relevance of these studies and in finding appropriate resources that use those media with which kids today are most familiar. This special issue is another part of our ongoing effort to help educators meet some of those challenges, and to provide them with support when often the only thing they get from outside the school walls is criticism. We’re not the only ones helping.This project has been generously supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Studies Program and the advertisers featured in the magazine. Whether you are reading this online or in print, we encourage you to provide your comments and feedback about this issue to our website and to join the growing community we are creating there. Together, we can make the teaching of history as fun and rewarding as we want the discovery of it to be for your students.

Canada’s History Society publisher of Teaching Canada’s History, The Beaver Canada’s History Magazine and Kayak Canada’s History Magazine for Kids Deborah Morrison, President and CEO Linda Onofreychuk, Executive Assistant Patricia Gerow, Manager of Finance and Administration Danielle Chartier, Marketing Coordinator Tanja Hütter, Web Editor Pat Hanney, Online Services Representative Joel Ralph, Manager Education and Outreach Programs James Gillespie, Graphic Designer Founded in 1994 to popularize Canadian history, the work of Canada’s National History Society includes: Teaching Canada’s History, The Beaver, Kayak, the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History to honour the country’s best history teachers, and the Pierre Berton Award to recognize those who have brought history to a wider audience. Board of Directors: *Charlotte Gray, Chair, Ottawa *James Baillie, Toronto *Margaret Conrad, Fredericton *Paul Jones, Toronto Jacques Lacoursière, Beauport, Que. Gillian Manning, Toronto Don Newman, Ottawa Richard W. Pound, Montreal H. Sanford Riley, Winnipeg David Ross, Toronto *Brian Young, Montreal *Publications Committee Advisory Council: E. James Arnett, Toronto Charlie Baillie, Toronto Elsa Franklin, Toronto Peter C. Newman, Vancouver The Hon. Duff Roblin, Winnipeg Thomas H.B. Symons, Peterborough, Ont. Jane Urquhart, Stratford, Ont. Rolph Huband, Publisher Emeritus Joseph E. Martin, President Emeritus

The Beaver was founded in 1920 by the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose commitment to the History Society and its programs continues today through the Hudson’s Bay Company History Foundation.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

magazine is produced four times a year in English, available through subscription, and in French as part of a partnership with Les Débrouillards, a popular science magazine for kids. Increasingly, we’ve been hearing from teachers about the value of both magazines as resources for classroom activities and lesson plans. The evolution of the Internet has enabled us to respond to their suggestions by providing bimonthly newsletters that highlight curriculum-linked articles appearing in each issue. In 2010, we’ll have a dynamic new website community to bring teachers together online and allow them one-stop access to sharing their classroom strategies as well as linking with other community, academic, and research sources.

g n i h c a e T e e r F s e c r u o s e R




Subscribe to Canada’s History Magazine and learn more about Canada’s fascinating past! One full year (6 issues) for ONLY $26.95! F Order now! Online at historysociety.ca/09BEDU, by phone at 1-888-816-0997 or by mailing the order card.

ree Newsle tters le Availabtal in digi t forma



hen students at Mangilaluk school in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, cracked their books on a new teaching unit — entitled Nationalism and the North — they didn’t realize they’d soon become players in a real-life dispute over Arctic sovereignty. Last spring, the Grade 11 students found themselves standing on an ice road on the frozen Beaufort Sea, protesting aerial intrusions by teams of Russian fighter bombers into Canadian airspace. Leaving the classroom behind, the students braved cold temperatures to hold aloft placards with slogans such as “Russians Take Off, EH!” Dolly Loreen, a grade 11 student, said, “I don’t mind the Russians flying over our country, as long as they don’t do any damage, such as pollution. At the same time, I think they should ask our permission to fly here, since we would have to if we flew over their country.” Carey Blake, another student, added, “Russia was wrong to

fly over our airspace.” Several countries, including Russia and Canada, are currently making claims on various parts of the Arctic with the hope of accessing the vast oil and gas resources that lie far below the ice in the seabed. Teacher Paul Yanchus said the timing of the protest, which came as he was introducing the Nationalism and the North teaching unit, was serendipitous. The unit explores land claims and treaties affecting the North. Yanchus said it’s great to see students in the North take such an interest in Arctic sovereignty. “It would be nice to see all northern students keeping a vigilant eye on the Arctic and all its resources and environment, as well as getting involved with the political issues — especially the sovereignty question,” said Yanchus. “I believe the government of Canada and its native peoples would be better caretakers of this wondrous land.” — Staff

April 13 To note the beginning in 1808 of George Provost’s service as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, which included the passage of education acts to establish schools and guarantee education rights across the province. Take a spring break.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Northern students get first-hand lessons on Arctic sovereignty.


Student line of defence



Bev Milobar-den Ouden accepts award from Governor General Michaëlle Jean November 17, 2008.


he newly expanded Canada’s History Awards are set to take place this November at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History are handed out each year to six of the country’s best schoolteachers, and for the first time they will be accompanied by a roster of other honours. “Inspired by the students they teach and the broader community involved in history education, we expanded the awards to bring greater attention to achievements across the history field,” said Deborah Morrison, president and CEO of Canada’s History Society, which organizes the awards for teachers. Canada’s History Society will at the same time hand out its annual Pierre Berton Award in recognition of those who bring Canadian history to a wider audience. Meanwhile, the scholarly Canadian Historical Association will present its Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for the best book on Canadian history; the Begbie Contest for public school students will announce its winners; and the The Historica – Dominion Institute will award the winner of its Great Questions student essay contest. In future years, Morrison envisions working with public history organizations to recognize efforts in the broader community. — Phil Koch

Visit CanadasHistory.ca to read the full list of award winners on November 20th!

ride on city transit might seem like a strange setting for a history lesson, but for one Saskatoon art teacher it’s the ideal venue. “I call it captive audience learning,” says Monique Martin, a visual arts teacher at Georges Vanier Fine Arts Catholic School in Saskatoon. “You’re going to learn something, be it riding to work, school, or wherever it is that you are going.” If you rode the transit system in Ottawa or Kingston, Ontario, this past summer, you were likely a participant in Martin’s captive audience learning — that is, if you happened to notice the striking bus stop posters and bus interior banner ads depicting the history of the Rideau Canal.


History awards go big

Art captivates transit users A COURTESY OF MONIQUE MARTIN


Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


“What I wanted children to realize is that back then art was a way of documenting history, but art has changed and evolved.” Launched in June, the Rideau Canal Connection project brought together the historical research and artistic efforts of hundreds of students, aged five to fourteen, from Martin’s school in Saskatoon and from Vincent Massey School in Ottawa. The students created hundreds of illustrations, which they used to design fortyfive posters and banner ads. Each ad featured not only student artwork but also a poignant historical fact about the Rideau Canal. One ad, for instance, stated

May 4

August 17

To mark the day in 1639 when Marie de l’Incarnation and other Ursuline nuns set sail for New France, where three years later they opened a school for young girls. Pack your books.

To celebrate Jesuit missionary Jean de Quen’s arrival in Quebec City in 1635 to teach French and First Nations boys at the petite école — the first elementary school in North America. Start early.


Left: Teacher Monique Martin got her students to create historical paintings for bus shelters and transit ads. Bottom: Street ad promoting the Rideau Canal Festival as a “zero footprint festival.”


that the canal was constructed after the War of 1812 to prevent further attacks from the U.S. Students at both schools researched the canal’s history using archival material and by studying the work of early Canadian artists. “What I wanted children to realize is that back then art was a way of documenting history, but art has changed and evolved,” Martin says. “It’s no longer about documentation; it’s for decoration.” The initiative evolved out of a previous educational project Martin had worked on, called Stops with History. She received a Governor General’s Award for her work on the earlier project, which involved student-created bus stop posters about Saskatoon’s history. She says the original idea came about while she was studying art in France. “Every time I needed to meet somebody, they would say, I will meet you at the bus stop Pasteur, or Bonaparte One,” she explains, adding that the stops included signage about their namesakes’ historical significance.

While at the GG Awards banquet in 2007, Martin had informally discussed the challenge of connecting Canadians to their history with Rideau Canal Festival president Michel Gauthier. Their brief chat led to the development of the Rideau Canal Connection, which involved more than one hundred volunteers and partners — such as Pattison Outdoor Advertising, which donated ad space for the campaign. Martin says that while the project helped students learn about Canadian history in a tangible and interesting way, she also hopes it enriched the lives of those who saw the ads. “We are so inundated with advertising trying to sell us something that I feel it’s really important people become better human beings by the influence of their visual culture,” Martin says. “When you combine children’s art with historical facts, you can have a powerful impact on people.” — Joel Schlesinger

December 1

December 24

To honour the day in 1841 when the Canadian Spelling Book received the country’s first copright. Spell honour with a u.

To note the conclusion of 1866 meetings in London of sixteen Fathers of Confederation who agreed to separate Catholic and Protestant school systems in Quebec and Ontario. Vive la différence.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Top: Bus ad promoting Rideau Canal World Heritage Site.

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Making connections THEN/HiER removing barriers between ivory tower and classrooms.



istory educators have long been aware of the disconnect between the ivory towers of academia and the classroom. But a new national network for history educators — from elementary schools to universities -— wants to make it a problem of the past. “Our project is primarily a response to the lack of communication among the constituencies involved in history education,” says Penney Clark, director of The History Education Network/Histoire et Éducation en Réseau. Also called THEN/HiER, the network aims to connect academic historians, history educators in faculties of education, historians in museums and historic sites, archivists, practising teachers, and curriculum policy-makers. It offers them the opportunity to communicate, collaborate, and learn from others’ experiences. “It is about history education wherever it takes place,” says Clark, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia. “This could be in schools from kindergarten through to graduation, in post-secondary institutions, in museums and historic sites, or at the feet of an aboriginal elder as she shares an oral history account.” Recently, the network launched a website, www.thenhier.ca. “We want to get people involved through the website, because obviously we can’t get people together face-to-face that often,” Clark says. “It’s a big country, so it would be very expensive. The website, therefore, will be a vital means of communication.” Besides offering news on the latest research in history education, the site provides educators with the opportunity to compare curricula from across the country. “A teacher from B.C, for example, could find out what the curriculum of a history teacher in Ontario looks like,” Clark says. In addition, the site will have links to drafts of curricula in development stages in order to seek out feedback from teachers and administrators. The site also features video podcasts of classroom history lessons and conference presentations, as well as a forums section where educators can debate hot topics in history education. “A teacher could go on the website, and they might see a question around history education that states, ‘Should we have a common national history curriculum?’” Clark says. “They could respond to that and hear what other people have to say about it.” THEN/HiER, however, is more than its website. Besides working to create a sense of community among history educators and researchers, the network funds projects promoting co-operation between them while advancing history education. “We’re trying to get different groups together to engage in projects, and we’ll give them up to $2,500 for their expenses,” Clark says about the Small Project Grant program. The network is planning a major meeting in 2010, working in conjunction with the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking project, provincial ministries of education, The Historica – Dominion Institute, and Canadian Heritage to develop strategies to infuse historical thinking concepts into provincial curriculum development. — Joel Schlesinger

Interactive Issue. c a n a d a s h i s t o r y. c a / t e a c h i n g

Images with this symbol are interactive. Teaching Canada’s History is an interactive edition. Go to canadashistory.ca/teaching to link to our online magazine. There you can click on the images and words in bold to access websites, lesson plans, and more.

14 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Your Story Amy Brown, back row far left, and the children of Tate Creek School, 1939.

Teaching in a time of war The excitement of a young teacher’s first day of classes was heightened by the outbreak of World War II, says Helen Raptis.


he first day of class for any rookie teacher is always a moment of nervous excitement and unexpected challenges. When your first day coincides with the start of the Second World War as German troops are pouring across the Polish border in September 1939, then the challenge of organizing a coherent classroom gets even steeper. But one young teacher, heading into a remote area for her first assignment, found that a little care and compassion helped bridge barriers to students in a time of war. Amy Brown, then nineteen and a recent graduate of Vancouver’s Provincial Normal School, was travelling from her home in Vancouver to Tate Creek, deep in B.C.’s Peace River region near the Alberta border, to take up her first teaching position. Shortly after boarding the train, she learned that Britain had declared war against Germany. To Amy, an active member of British Columbia’s Young Socialist League and an avid political observer, the news was disturbing,

but not unexpected. Amy had accepted the teaching post knowing that Tate Creek was populated by 518 refugees who had fled Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland after the signing of the 1938 Munich Agreement (which had annexed their homeland to Nazi Germany). Although trained to work with English-speaking elementary students, monolingual Amy was undaunted by the prospect of teaching English to twenty-eight German-speaking students aged twelve to nineteen. Amy would later attribute her courageous spirit to surviving the Depression’s hardships and to the adventurous spirit of her parents, who emigrated from Newfoundland in 1912. Her father, a sea captain who was frequently away from home, believed that women were equal to men and encouraged Amy to engage in non-traditional pursuits. In grades 12 and 13, she served as her high school’s first female student council president. Alex Lord, her normal school principal, labelled her an “extrovert” and paired her with a shy classmate in order to soften Amy’s “rough edges” and bring her classmate “out of her shell.”


Her willingness to connect with the community endeared her to the settlers and they befriended her immediately.


Dr. Helen Raptis is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. She is currently interviewing retired teachers about their experiences in the classroom to help new teachers be better prepared for their first day.

Amy Brown at Tate Creek in 1939 with a calf settlers named “Amy.”


However, the school’s principal disapproved of Amy’s relationships. The principal, who had twenty years of elementary teaching experience and chose to work with the seven-to-eleven-year-olds, kept her distance from the families, despite her fluency in German. She lived in a cabin outside the settlement and, as time went on, became increasingly intolerant of Amy’s socializing with the refugees. On a weekly basis, she would travel to Pouce Coupe to report to the regional school inspector on Amy’s allegedly outrageous behaviour, stating how Amy could not control her class, as the noise level was unacceptable. The principal was most annoyed by Amy playing soccer with her class, which Amy saw as a way of helping the students relieve stress. At Christmas, the inspector informed Amy that she was to move to another school. Barely four months after beginning her teaching career, Amy began a new position at North Swan School, almost ten kilometres from Tate Creek, but still within the Sudeten settlement area. A dozen of Amy’s students walked the distance from Tate Creek to North Swan, demanding the return of Miss Brown. But the inspector stuck to his decision — which he eventually came to regret and for which he later apologized to Amy. Though upsetting at the time, Amy’s experience at Tate Creek profoundly shaped her teaching career, which lasted until 1985. There she first learned that one of the most important aspects of teaching is building good relationships with children and their families. “If you reach out to parents, they’ll reach back,” she says. Good teaching means being able to “put yourself in [your students’] shoes,” and to do this you must know where they’re coming from. “In those days you sank, or swam, on your own,” she said. “There was no library to go to. There were no resources. It was sort of tough … but I managed to survive. I give a lot of credit to the support I got from the kids and the parents.”

In 1940, Amy married Tim Dauphinee, with whom she raised three children. In 1971 she became the first woman elected to the Ontario Credit Union’s board of directors. Ever concerned with the plight of marginalized peoples, one of the most important features of her teaching was the adoption of two orphans from India, who were supported annually by the children in Amy’s classes. Along with providing financial support, Amy’s students served as “surrogate family” for the orphans. Social studies lessons were transformed into informative letters, artwork, and postcards destined for India. Amy found strength in the close connections with her new community and her students. Knowing the challenges that awaited her, she took them on as an opportunity to make a difference when it was needed most. According to Amy, “you can play a tremendous role in [the children’s] family, in their lives. These are your kids … your daytime kids … and I was their daytime mother.”

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

When Amy arrived at Tate Creek, the two-room schoolhouse was not yet completed, so she took the opportunity to visit her pupils at home to get to know them. Her willingness to connect with the community endeared her to the settlers and they befriended her immediately. By the time she began teaching at the end of September, parents were regularly inviting her to their homes and social functions. Amy admired the refugees for their social democratic principles in opposing Nazism and for their courage in approaching the British and Canadian governments for help in getting them out of Sudetenland. As a social democrat herself, Amy felt like “one of them.”

Six great tips to get your stu Things happen. John A. Macdonald demands another payoff of $10,000 in a secret telegram to railroad tycoon Sir Hugh Allan in 1872. Viola Desmond, an African-Canadian woman, refuses to give up her seat in a Nova Scotia theatre in 1946. You are born in … whenever you were born. These events happen. And then time moves on. They become part of the past, which includes everything that ever happened, from the static-filled broadcast on a radio in Norway House, Manitoba, in 1922 to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. The first big problem with the past is that it is vast, mostly unknown, and potentially infinite. The second big problem

with the past is that it is gone. Outside of make-believe and imagination, we can never again be in 1872, or 1946, or the year of your birth. But — and this is the third big problem with the past — the past has consequences for today and for tomorrow. The Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Japan and tens of thousands of people died, and the war ended — and the Cold War started, and miners dug for uranium in Canada, and the U.S. and Soviet Union spent millions of dollars on even more deadly weapons, whose technology then spread to other countries. So the dropping of the atomic bomb was not simply a single event lost in a past that vanished. Its consequences bounced and rippled into the present, and will continue to do so into the future.


udents thinking historically. By Peter Seixas

The same goes with the moment of your birth. Its consequences continue to the present, and will carry forward until your death, and beyond that among the children you have, the things you produce, the ideas you promote. So we have the key distinction that underlies the discipline of history. The past — infinite, meaningless, and gone — is one kind of thing. The stories we tell about the past, looking backward retrospectively, are another kind of thing altogether. They are limited (they have a beginning, a middle, and an end); they are about particular individuals and groups (we can’t tell everyone’s story); they are meaningful (otherwise why would we tell them); and they are located in the present — in today’s books, magazines,

films, photographs, and museums. Who tells the story, why the story is told, to whom it’s told, when it’s told — these and many other factors shape and influence the stories about the past. The fact that the past is an altogether different kind of thing from the stories that are told about it poses many challenges. The Beaver: Canada’s History Magazine provides a key resource with which to confront these challenges. This article aims to show how you might do so, using six historical thinking concepts. By making the historical thinking concepts explicit, as we have done in the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking project, rich historical investigations, in the classroom and elsewhere, become possible.

18 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

The first issue of The Beaver was published by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1920.

Using primary source evidence


rimary source evidence provides the crucial link between the past and our stories about the past. There are many different types of primary evidence, including written records, oral testimony, relics, letters, government documents, maps, and radio broadcasts. What defines sources as primary is that they were created at the time that you are studying. They can thus be used as evidence for what people were thinking, how they lived, and what was happening around them. Primary sources are a part of the past you are studying. Is The Beaver a primary source? It depends on what questions you are asking. Starting as a publication of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1920, back issues of The Beaver can be read in order to understand how a certain segment of Canadian writers thought, and, by extension, what kinds of thinking were broadly acceptable in the culture at the time. Consider the following passage, written by George Anderson in June 1943. It was part of an article about aboriginal people, whom he called “pagan Eskimos,” based on his experiences on the western shores of Hudson Bay: “I suppose everyone who has been in contact with primitive races has, sooner or later, come up against some kind of taboo. The Eskimos are particularly taboo ridden. These bans run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, with the latter — at least in

civilized eyes — appearing to predominate.” Beaver readers in 1943 might have read this article to learn fascinating information about “the Eskimos.” In 2009, we read it quite differently, as a primary source, to find out about the culture of English Canada and its confrontation with the Inuit in the 1940s. In order to do so, we need to read closely, pay attention to the language, and use it to make inferences about the beliefs and world view of the author. To us, the striking distinction in this passage is between “primitive races” and “civilized eyes.” The former (i.e., the “Eskimos”) are “ridiculous” in the eyes of the latter (i.e., the author). This short passage gives a clear sense, borne out in the rest of the article, of how George Anderson in 1943 considered his culture to be superior to the supposedly ignorant and magic-ridden culture of the Inuit. In order to turn a source into evidence, it is necessary to know something about the time and place of its creation — to contextualize the source. Good questions are also necessary. A few include: What is it? (An article from a 1943 Beaver.) What was the position of the author or creator? (An English-Canadian who lived in the North, an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company.) What does the material reveal about the (conscious) purposes of its creator and their (unconscious) values and world view? (He sees the Inuit as an ignorant people, in need of his help, but at the same time he is contemptuous of them.)


Establishing historical significance time. Significant events can also reveal or shed light on long-lasting or emerging issues in history and contemporary life. Viola Desmond’s story fits both of these criteria, to a certain degree. Her actions didn’t have consequences on the level of the dropping of the atomic bomb, but they certainly had local consequences and an impact on the black community. Her story also reveals the problems of the long-standing struggle against discrimination and for equal rights faced by African-Canadians, and, by extension, other minorities — concerns of ours today. Historical significance can also change over time. Fifty years ago, textbooks did not include African-Canadians, because they were not seen to be historically significant. Historical significance thus reflects not just the past, but also our values, as a society, in the present: what is important to us. Note that in the above discussion of “The Legacy of Viola Desmond” I have not asked the kinds of questions that I did about “Pagan Eskimos.” I have not used the article as a primary source. But I could go back to The Beaver of 1945 and find an article entitled “‘Nigger Dan’ at Fort St. John” to provide excellent primary source evidence of the kind of discriminatory attitudes that Viola Desmond and Carrie Best faced in the Canada of the 1940s.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


he past includes everything that ever happened to anyone anywhere. You cannot remember or learn it all. Choices must be made. Historians make choices about what is worth studying. The editor of The Beaver makes choices about what to publish. So do teachers and textbook writers about what is worth students’ time to learn. An article entitled “The Legacy of Viola Desmond” appeared in a recent issue of The Beaver (April-May 2009). “Viola Desmond’s refusal to give up her seat in a Nova Scotia theatre back in 1946 sent out a shock wave that continues to be felt more than six decades later. The event galvanized the local African-Canadian community in a way never before seen in Canada. It focused the newly formed Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples, which paid Desmond’s fine and supported her court fight. It inspired the creation of an independent black newspaper, The Clarion….” The Beaver’s editor thought that Desmond’s actions were significant. How do you decide what is historically significant? There are two basic ways that historians argue for the historical significance of particular people or events. One is to point out serious consequences, for many people, over a long period of

Viola Desmond as she appeared in ad material for her own beauty products (above). The theatre in New Glasgow where Viola Desmond was arrested as it appeared in 1956.


Inuit Family with George Anderson examining white fox pelts at a Hudson’s Bay Company store.



Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Taking a historical perspective


he past is so different that its people sometimes appear stupid, ignorant, weird, or all of the above. But for us to judge them like this simply because they didn’t live in our times is a mistake. Their whole way of experiencing the world, their whole way of thinking, and perhaps even feeling, were different in ways that are hard for us to imagine. Taking a historical perspective is the process of “putting ourselves in their shoes,” using all of the evidence that we can find. Doing this means that we need to leave behind, temporarily, some of the values and categories that shape our thinking in the twentyfirst century. Taking a historical perspective does not require that we agree with people of the past or identify with them, but that we attempt to understand them. Primary source documents can often help, but even here, caution is required to not impose our meanings on their words. Complicating this even further, people who share a particular historical moment or situation may still have very different world views. Understanding the diversity of perspectives in any one moment is a key to understanding the events of the time. With all this in mind, let’s return to George Anderson and his “Pagan Eskimos.” Our initial response was that he was ignorant for thinking of the Inuit as ignorant. But taking a historical perspective

requires us to suspend that judgment and try to understand him as thoroughly as possible, as part of his culture. Here is more of his article — the story of an accident involving an overturned canoe: “One of the boys had managed to reach shore, but the other was still in the water. I managed to fish him out and found him apparently dead. Immediately there were loud lamentations and two Angakook commenced their ministrations. It was obvious that they knew nothing of resuscitation, so I pushed them aside.… Fortunately, after over an hour of artificial respiration, I was able to bring the lad round.… In the realm of … medicine, the Eskimo is extremely crude. He believes that all sickness … is caused by evil spirits.” Here we have more of Anderson’s arrogance: We can picture him pushing the anxious relatives aside. But what did this feel like for him? How did he make sense of it all? More of a picture emerges, of a wellmeaning, culturally insensitive man who may, despite it all, have had something to offer. Making the picture more complex, he introduces his final story saying, “We make it a point never to ridicule the beliefs of primitive people,” and then tells the story of an Angakook woman correctly predicting the future, to his bewilderment. Only by withholding our judgment, examining the sources, and taking a historical perspective can we begin to understand the full complexity of this distant intercultural exchange.

Understanding the ethical dimension in history



ven when we maintain our distance, there is still, necessarily, an ethical dimension to history. Most historians attempt to hold back on ethical judgments about actors in the midst of their histories. They need to, in part because our own ethical standards may be so different from those of the times we are studying: Concepts like racism, sexism, and homophobia, for example, are all products of very recent times. But, when all is said and done, if the story is meaningful, then there is usually an ethical judgment involved. It would be hard to imagine a good history of aboriginal-European contact in the North, of the Holocaust, or of slavery in the southern United States that did not take an ethical stand. Sometimes simply reading a history text helps us to honour a debt of memory (for example, to fallen soldiers from World War I). Sometimes a history helps to clarify when an apology is due for past events (such as the Japanese-Canadian internment during World War II). And sometimes it enforces a case for land claims or reparations to the victims of crimes (for example, to the abused children of aboriginal residential schools). Often, the ethical judgments of a historian lie somewhat under the surface, and it is an important piece of critical historical thinking to be able to see the judgments, even when they are not explicit. Here is the introduction to Donald Creighton’s article on John A. Macdonald, published in The Beaver in 1956: “They called him ‘Old Tomorrow.’ It was a not unkindly, even affectionate, and yet seriously misleading sobriquet. He did not live in the future. He lived intensely in the present. … In less than a quarter century, he built a nation, extended it across a continent, and bound it together with the steel track of a railway. Even in the nineteenth century, that century of strenuous nation building, this was regarded as a considerable feat; and time, with all the tremendous changes it has brought in the last fifty years, has simply served to enhance the importance of the achievement.” Creighton is clearly arguing here for Macdonald’s historical significance, by showing his place in a larger narrative of the nation — not a par-

ticularly difficult task. But beyond that, it is also easy for the reader in 2009 to detect Creighton’s ethical judgment: Macdonald is, and should be, remembered as a hero. In contrast, here is a passage from Peter Black’s treatment of Macdonald, from an article in The Beaver’s October-November 2007 issue: “In reflecting back, his mind weakened by fear, stress, and drink, a certain telegram he had dispatched the previous August would have haunted him: ‘I must have another ten thousand — will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me; answer to-day.’ That damning bit of extortion had now been exposed publicly, along with mountains of other evidence linking him to the Pacific Scandal. Macdonald was cornered, with scant hope of salvation. So, on that fine August day, the first prime minister of Canada fled, and for the next few days no one knew where on earth he was — or they weren’t telling. Thus began what might be called Sir John’s ‘lost weekend.’” Macdonald managed to recover from this ignominious episode, but Black paints a picture, so different from Creighton’s, of a politician mired in drink and trapped by his own machinations. What Creighton admired as “the strenuous nation building” of the late-nineteenth century now seems tainted — from its corrupt alliances between politicians and an early crop of capitalist tycoons, to the land deals which were its payoff, to its devastating effects on aboriginal peoples. These ethical interpretations of past actions, in turn, have consequences for how we think about ourselves today — and this is one way that past events ripple into the present. If muscular nation building was the act of a hero, as Creighton tells it, then its consequences for those who stood to lose were simply collateral damage. If, on the other hand, like Black, we recognize our earlier heroes’ feet of clay, we put ourselves in better positions to heal the wounds that nineteenth-century nation building wrought.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Sir John A. Macdonald, 1883.



Identifying continuity and change

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


n February 1921, The Beaver ran a short piece identifying hockey as Canada’s national sport: “No other boys in the world could ever play hockey quite as Canadian youngsters do.… It is the spirit of Vimy Ridge and Festubert that crops out strongest in a fast rush down the ice with the puck. The vigour, stamina, fearlessness and self reliant manliness demanded by the game are natural, because the Canadian came first, and then hockey developed as his characteristic sport.”

“The vigour, stamina, fearlessness and self reliant manliness demanded by the game are natural, because the Canadian came first, and then hockey developed as his characteristic sport.”

This passage raises questions in respect to any of the historical thinking concepts discussed so far. First World War battles at Vimy Ridge and Festubert are treated in this passage as having equal historical significance. Why is it, then, that Vimy Ridge appears in every twentieth-century Canadian history textbook, while Festubert has disappeared, despite almost 2,500 Canadian casualties? Considering this passage as primary source evidence, we might conduct a close examination of its language, assumptions, and argument in the context of the immediate post-World War I years. It neatly bundles together “manliness,” military zeal, and a distincMembers of Team tively Canadian national Canada win the gold spirit as the foundmedal in women’s ice ations of the sport hockey at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

of hockey. The question of continuity and change prompts us to investigate what has changed and what has remained the same since the writing of this Beaver article in 1921. To what degree is hockey still bound up with masculinity? Has the introduction of women’s hockey made a significant change in this identification? If we are not so quick to identify hockey with military zeal in the early twenty-first century, the question of hockey’s relationship to male violence is still a continuing theme. Certainly it’s difficult to make the claim today that “no other boys in the world could ever play hockey quite as Canadian youngsters do.” And yet, the idea of hockey as distinctively Canadian lingers in the national psyche. Issues of continuity and change prompt questions about the different periods into which we might divide hockey history, about the pace of change, about whether the changes have represented progress, and, if so, for whom.

Cause and consequence


ny time there is an event, the questions are open as to what caused it and what were its consequences. Questions of cause and consequence can range from the very small and particular (Who was responsible for the winning goal?) to the large and complex (What was responsible for the commercialization of hockey? What was the impact of television on the sport?). Both who (particular people and groups of people) and what (economic, political, social, and geographic conditions) need to be considered.

A final note


ne danger in the classroom is that students experience history as a bunch of disconnected facts: “one damn thing after another.” But even when a teacher tells fascinating stories about the past, there is still the danger of students being merely passive recipients. For students to engage actively with the legacies of the past and to confront their meanings for us today, they need to do more than listen to and read other people’s accounts: They need to think historically. The six historical thinking concepts, along with archives like The Beaver’s, can help students do just that. Peter Seixas is professor and Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. More on the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking project can be found at www.historybenchmarks.ca.


23 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Benchmarks of Historical Thinking

Summer Institute - Ottawa, Ontario July 5-10, 2010

Education FACULTY

Calling all history curriculum leaders, history teachers, and educators in history museums and historic sites from across Canada! Immerse yourself in this bilingual program being held in the beautiful and historic city of Ottawa. THE PROGRAM:

This exciting institute will include plenary lectures, breakout groups and visits to Ottawa sites rich in historical value, such as Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Assignments will involve using historical thinking concepts to design active, hands-on learning experiences for students and/or museum visitors. YOUR FACILITATORS:

 Dr. Peter Seixas, University of British Columbia  Dr. Penney Clark, University of British Columbia  Jill Colyer, Benchmarks of Historical Thinking Project



Accommodations will be available at the University of Ottawa, and at a downtown hotel within easy walking distance of the Institute.


Register for credit or non-credit. Accepting applications from across Canada. For registration information, visit the website: http://eplt.educ.ubc.ca/programs/institutes/bht


Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and seating is limited. Early registration is strongly encouraged! Deadline: April 1, 2010


The History Education Network is offering five bursaries of $2,500. See www.thenhier.ca for details.


The vigorous New Hazelton men’s hockey team, 1913.

24 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue Historical thinking can help students understand contemporary issues, such as the heated debates that erupted in HÊrouxville, Quebec, when its town council developed a controversial code of behaviour for immigrants.

25 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


By Catherine Duquette

26 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


ur story takes place in Quebec in a high-school history class. The teacher’s goal is to develop his students’ debating skills on current issues by recreating a session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The students are enthusiastic and each selects a country to represent during the activity. So far, so good. But things begin to go awry when the debate topic is revealed — the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Two students of Palestinian origin realize that France — the country they chose to represent — typically supports Israel over Palestine. They are outraged and openly refuse to participate, saying they cannot morally associate

with the positions held by France. The teacher sympathizes and suggests they choose another country — one with policies that favour Palestine. The problem is resolved and the activity continues. However, the teacher is left with an uneasy feeling — did he make the right decision? This example from an actual classroom demonstrates the complexity of teaching contemporary history, particularly when the teacher wishes to address controversial issues.

La Mort du Montcalm, 1902, by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté.

The Conquest: a historical controversy


historical controversy is one that surrounds the interpretation of certain past events by historians. The consequence of the British Conquest for the society of New France is a good example. There are several schools of thought on this topic. For instance, the Montreal and Quebec City historical schools propose different interpretations of the results of the same event. In general, the Montreal school, which includes historians such as Michel Brunet, Maurice Séguin, and Guy Frégault, proposes a more traditional vision of the effects of the Conquest on the Quebec society — namely, that Quebec must fight to conserve its francophone origins. The Quebec City school includes historians such as Fernand Ouellet and Jean Hamelin, who interpret the Conquest less as the beginning of a struggle between two peoples and more as one of many events

that have contributed to creating modern Quebec. There are two objectives to teaching the Conquest based on the controversies surrounding it. For one, studying the different schools of thought helps students understand that history is not a unique and true description of the past, but instead involves the interpretation of past events and their consequences for the present. This gives meaning to historical thinking; students learn to question the various interpretations while developing their own personal comprehension of the event. The other objective is to help students understand the influence history has on their everyday lives. The historical interpretation of the Conquest continues to have a significant impact on Quebec society today, particularly in the political debates surrounding independence.

and complexity. The course replaces the former economics, history, and geography courses and is intended help students understand the complexity of today’s world while remaining open to its diverse societies. Yet, fostering this understanding is a big challenge. Several studies have shown that many students have trouble with historical thinking — they have difficulty connecting past events with modern-day issues. How can teachers help them make that connection? Controversy itself may be a key. In fact, research shows that at least three types of controversy can make powerful teaching tools in the classroom.

First Nations land claims: a standard controversy



he controversy surrounding First Nations land claims is an example of a standard controversy. Standard controversies originated in the past, but their effects are still felt in the present. For instance, claims regarding ancestral hunting, fishing, and gathering rights cannot be explained in detail without first looking to the past. In addition, the positions adopted on these issues depend in large part on the importance given to past events. Standard controversies therefore consist of a double controversy — a historical controversy and a future controversy. In this example, the historical controversy revolves around how to interpret past relations between Europeans and aboriginal peoples. The future controversy MUSÉE NATIONAL DES BEAUX-ARTS DU QUÉBEC

Standard controversies, such as aboriginal land claims, often spark passionate debates in classrooms.

regards actions to be carried out in the future. Because standard controversies can have a great impact on people’s values and emotions, they can be difficult to introduce into a classroom. A historical controversy such as the location of the Viking site of Vinland is unlikely to lead to a heated argument among secondary school students. But First Nations land claims may spark passionate debates, particularly if a student’s community is directly affected. Standard controversies are rewarding because they can sharpen students’ awareness. They start thinking about the way a situation was interpreted in the past and how that influences a position held in the present.

27 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

What should be done in these instances? Can controversy be used to produce a favourable outcome? If so, how? These questions are increasingly relevant in Quebec, given that during the 2009 school year students in Secondary V (Grade 11) are for the first time taking a new course based on the issues affecting the contemporary world. Since some of these issues are intensely controversial, it’s hoped that viewing them through a historical lens may help students understand their evolution



Canadian immigration: a potential controversy

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

otential controversies are present-day situations that will have an impact on the future. Immigration is one example. It’s controversial because decisions made today affect the kind of society we will have in the future. When looking at this from a historical perspective, students see the consequences of past decisions made about immigration — and they can see how those


compare with the situation today. They can consider the similarities and differences over time and in changing societies. Teaching history therefore promotes student involvement — students understand not only that the past can be interpreted in many ways; they also learn that the past has an impact on both the present and the future. Quebec society was polarized by the “reasonable accommodation” debate.

Controversial method


he three types of controversies found in history classes each present unique ways of helping students understand that the past is not just a series of facts, but a combination of many factors. Standard or potential controversies demonstrate, through concrete situations, the connections between current issues and past events. Controversy-based history teaching is an interesting method for helping students gain some distance from thinking that is anchored in the present and become aware of the influence of the past on their daily lives. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to integrate controversial issues in the classroom. An experienced teacher may be wary of the reactions of students, parents, or even school administrators. What’s more, the sensitive nature of controversial issues requires a unique teaching approach. How can this type of issue be integrated into the classroom in

such a way that students learn the historical discipline? How can students be encouraged to consider these issues in such a way that they develop opinions that are based on critical thinking, rather than on unfounded information or the common interpretations presented by news media? Extensive research is still necessary before these questions can be answered. Given the many advantages of controversybased history teaching, such research seems crucial — there is so much to be gained. Catherine Duquette is a doctoral candidate in the field of history education at Laval University in Quebec City. Her research interests include historical thinking, historical consciousness, and controversybased historical teaching.

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Teacher Eric Langhorst

Easy ways to set students’ imaginations afire. By Eric Langhorst



M a k e it p e r sonal


alf the battle is creating a personal connection between your students and the content. In my case, that means making a connection between teenagers and colonial America — not often naturally kindred spirits.

One technique I’ve used for several years in my classroom is part deception and part drama, but it always has fantastic results. At the start of a class I “appear” to be rather upset that once again I have found a note left on the floor by one of my students. It’s written in standard junior high vernacular and I tell them I’m reading it in front of the class to teach the author a valuable lesson. The students cheer in excitement as I tell them it looks like a breakup letter. The note tells of a relationship gone bad, complete with some scathing details: “You don’t listen to me anymore, I don’t feel respected, and I want to be on my own.” The students are on the edge of their seats by the conclusion of the letter, in anticipation of discovering the identity of the author. After some begging, I tell them the letter is signed by “the American colonies,” which is followed by several moments of stunned silence. It suddenly hits them that the Declaration of Independence is the world’s most famous breakup letter. The activity is followed by more serious discussions detailing the ramifications of the document, the risks taken by the signers. I now have their attention­ — and I did so by creating a personal connection to colonial America. Making that personal connection is a critical step in teaching the history of any era to students. If it doesn’t matter to the students, they won’t be engaged.

Content-ed classrooms ur twenty-first-century students are not passive consumers of information who silently absorb information and then recite it at the appropriate time. Rather, our students are active producers of content, influenced by the tidal wave of media that engulfs them. They become part of the video games they play. They express themselves on YouTube, and they build networks on Facebook. I have found success in channelling their desire to create by allowing students to become producers of content in the classroom and giving them assignments that provide them an opportunity to mash it up.


Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


t’s happened to me dozens of times. I’m in a conversation with a stranger — on a plane, watching a baseball game, or waiting in the doctor’s office — and I’m asked what I do for a living. I mention that I teach American history to eighth graders, and the stranger will respond with a sympathetic “oh,” which, I think, is in regard to the thirteen- and fourteen-year-old clientele I work with on a daily basis. The stranger’s next comment is so common I can usually predict it: They tell me they really didn’t like history as a student. Even worse, it was boring. And yet, inevitably, the stranger will tell me that he or she, as an adult, now loves history. If they don’t voluntarily explain why they’ve had a change of heart — they usually do explain — I ask them what has changed since they left school. The answer varies a little, but often it has involved a visit to a historic site, an interesting book they’ve read, or a documentary they’ve watched on television that has ignited a new interest in history. In every case, the content hasn’t changed; rather, the stranger has discovered a personal connection with the “story” of history. It is no longer simply a case of rote memorization of dates, names, and battles, and of vocabulary terms. I have a personal passion for history and I think it’s sad that so many people find their love for history much later in life. So what can we as history teachers do to ignite that personal spark in our students today, instead of twenty years after they leave our classroom? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some of the techniques and approaches that I’ve found successful over the past fifteen years as a history teacher.

32 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue If Abraham Lincoln knocked on your door today and wanted you to create a sixty-second television ad to help him win the 1860 presidential election, what would you include in your production? My students are given this task each year. To be successful, they must first understand the issues of the election, and the candidates. I provide them with information about the election and we discuss it as a group. I then let them create their commercial using free video-editing software. The finished products are shown in the classroom to everyone. Students want to have an active role in the content they are studying. Allowing them to work with the content enables students to be active participants in learning, and not just passive consumers.

Open-concept classrooms s teachers, we often close the door to our classrooms — both physically and emotionally — and feel a sense of security in our established routine. With the tools at our disposal today, we are doing our students a disservice if we don’t encourage our classes to interact with the rest of the world. Free tools such as Google’s Gmail video chat and Skype video allow virtually any teacher to create powerful conversations between students and outside experts.


This year, my students enjoyed some real- time interaction with the director of education at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, via Google Gmail video chat. As the director showed us around the Hall of Signers, complete with life-sized statues of the Founding Fathers who signed the United States Constitution, my students were able to ask questions and have them answered in real time. Since the tools required to connect via a video chat are free and accessible, it is easy for teachers and their students to collaborate and connect with anyone in the world.

Embrace accessibility


t’s important to make your content accessible in a variety of formats to allow students of varying abilities to be successful in your classroom. Four years ago, I started recording studycasts with Audacity — a free application that edits audio. A studycast is an MP3 file, typically about fifteen minutes in length, that recaps the most important concepts from the unit. I make this audio file available on the Internet and post the link on my classroom website. Students can listen at home through the Internet or download the file to their personal MP3 player.

Eric Langhorst uses the latest technology to create multimedia projects that engage his history students.

33 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


Students who do not have Internet access at home or an MP3 player can request a copy of the studycast on a CD that can be played at home. Reaction to the studycast has been overwhelmingly positive from both parents and students. Students with learning disabilities have found the audio recordings, which can be listened to repeatedly, especially helpful. Students have told me they listen to the studycasts everywhere — while riding the bus, walking the dog, or running on a treadmill. Creating the studycast is also a very productive use of my time — it takes me about twenty minutes to create and post the recording, which can then be accessed thousands of times by all of my students. The studycast is a practical way I can put the content into the hands of the students. I also use a variety of historical podcasts from various sources to supplement the content in our classroom. Many of our students have MP3 players — why not incorporate them into our curriculum to help teach content, instead of just issuing a blanket ban of all devices on our campuses?

34 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Get real


ometimes, getting students excited about history requires getting their hands messy — literally — and by doing so making a physical connection to the past. This spring I had a box of dried bison dung shipped to my classroom and we used it for a project that helped my students experience life on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. I’ve taught the unit on the Oregon Trail and Western Expansion for fifteen years, and each year I tell my students how the pioneers on the trail had access to very little wood, so they resorted to burning dried bison dung to keep warm and to cook their meals. This has always intrigued me, as of course it does my teenaged students, and I have always wanted to try it. This summer my students and I gathered to attempt to burn bison dung in a fashion similar to that used by pioneers on the trail. We roasted marshmallows over this nostalgic fire and made smores to eat. My classes have, over the years, panned for gold using claim dirt from a South Dakota gold mine, and attempted to send signals across battlefields as the flag corps did during the American Civil War. Experiences like these will stick with students long after graduation. It’s much more stimulating and enjoyable for teachers as well.

C u lt i vate c onnections


t any given moment, there are thousands of teachers across Canada and the United States attempting to teach history to their students. This presents an incredible opportunity for


Eric’s students roast marshmallows using bison dung as fuel.

collaboration, especially given the many multimedia communication tools available to us in the twenty-first century. Why try to reinvent the wheel each time you find yourself searching for a new activity or writing assignment? Odds are, someone, somewhere, has created a powerful and effective lesson plan that match your needs. All we need to do is to find a way to connect to each other. We each have a group of teachers, friends, and associates who give us information and provide us support. Currently, the trendy term for this support group is “Professional Learning Network,” or PLN. Your PLN may consist of teachers down the hall, the authors of blogs you read, a podcaster you enjoy, or the people you follow on Twitter. Cultivating those individuals in your PLN is a tremendously effective practice for classroom teachers. I began blogging in the summer of 2005 when I started a blog called Speaking of History. My initial goal was to write about topics such as technology, history, and education.The content varies from day to day; I might post an entry one day reviewing a biography I just finished, and the next day it might describe a lesson from my classroom that really connected with my students. That summer, I started to produce a podcast by the same name. I wasn’t really sure who would listen when I began, and, frankly, I didn’t really care, since I was just attempting to master the free software required to create a podcast. Then a surprising thing happened. I started to receive feedback from people who were listening to the Speaking of History podcast.

“My podcasts were downloaded over 380,000 times during 2008.” –teacher Eric Langhorst

Start your blogs I also learned that the more I podcasted, the more I discovered in return from my listeners. If I created a podcast describing a lesson from my American Revolutionary War unit, I soon heard from other teachers who had either tried my lesson or gave me a suggestion about a new lesson. My blog and podcast have continued to grow. I currently have over two hundred podcasts on a variety of topics, and listeners have accessed the web page from 156 countries. My podcasts were downloaded over 380,000 times during 2008. A relatively new application to incorporate into your PLN is Twitter. Twitter is a free application that allows you to microblog with a network of followers. Each “update” is limited to a maximum of 140 characters. You decide which people you want to follow, and people decide whether or not to follow you. I currently follow around three hundred people — a collection of history teachers, educational technology specialists, museum staff, family, and friends — and around 450 people follow me. Some of the comments are of the trivial nature: “I’m grilling steaks on my back patio” or “I thought tonight’s episode of The Office was hilarious.” Recently I learned that one of my teaching colleagues had her baby through a Tweet on Twitter. Much of the discussion, though, is of an educational nature. People post links to online articles about teaching history or a newly discovered online resource. Twitter is also a great way to generate response from your PLN. While recently working on an article about the use of video chat in the classroom, I posted a Tweet asking if anyone had a great story to share about a time they used video chat with their classroom. Within an hour I had received ten replies from teachers who follow me on Twitter with great examples I could use in my article.

F i n a l t h o u g h ts


he methods I have discussed in this article are merely tools that I use to teach history in my classroom. Some of these tools might fit a specific activity in your classroom with your curriculum, or they may not fit any of your needs. I think we teach at an incredible time in history, because we have a variety of tools at our disposal to help us bring the subject alive for our students. We owe it to our students to explore new tools in our approaches to helping them connect with our content. History, on any level, is about amazing stories of the human spirit. If we can’t make that connection with our students, we have failed them. Will your students discover their love for history today in your classroom — or twenty years later on their own?

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Technology today provides opportunities for teachers to become real leaders in the education community. Starting a blog, an online journal of your classroom and thoughts on teaching, is a great way to get started. Neil Stephenson teaches at Calgary Science School in Calgary. He started his own blog, Thinking in Mind, in January 2009 and has already gained a regular following. The opportunity to learn from other teachers is too good to pass up. “I would love to access the incredible wealth of history teaching experience that is spread across our country,” says Stephenson on his blog. Several free and easy-to-use programs, such as Blogger and Wordpress, are available for teachers who want to get started. Stephenson adds that “tools like blogs and Twitter are a powerful way to share and deepen our practice.”

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Eric Langhorst is the 2007/2008 Missouri Teacher of the Year and publishes a regular podcast about history teaching and technology on his blog at www.speakingofhistory.blogspot.com.

Blogger.com and Wordpress.com are two easy websites where you can get started with a blog. Simply sign up for an account, give your blog a title, and add your first post. Write about resources you find, lesson plans, teachable moments, and anything else that interests you as an educator. Think of your blog as an online notepad to put down ideas while they are still fresh.

36 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

The stories of residential school survivors are powerful teaching tools for teachers and students. By Anne Tenning



esidential schools. When I first introduce this topic to my students, some of them will admit to having never heard of residential schools before. For others, their experience with the topic is limited to a tiny blip in their previous studies of Canadian history. Some students believe that residential schools happened a long time ago and wonder why they are such a big deal in this day and age. Some students, however, know all too well that

residential schools are a very recent part of our history, because their grandparents or other elders attended these schools. For the First Nations of Canada, the term residential school is synonymous with a systemic attempt to eradicate aboriginal culture and identity. For survivors, it calls to mind painful memories of physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse — the impacts of which continue to affect present generations. This topic is very close to my heart, as my mother is a residential school survivor. Unlike some survivors, my mother cannot speak

openly about the years she spent at residential school because it is still too painful for her. I knew virtually nothing about my mother’s experience until I attended her residential school settlement hearing earlier this year. For six long hours at the hearing, my mother recounted the abuse she suffered at the hands of school employees. I listened silently, resisting the urge to scream, to cry, to vomit. The whole time I wished I could hold my mother and somehow protect her from her own memories. Instead, I held her hand, wept often,

and at the end of the hearing felt so much admiration, love and respect for my mother; I understood who she is more completely than ever. An understanding of residential school history is pivotal to comprehending the issues facing aboriginal people today. As Katie M., one of the students in my BC First Nations Studies 12 course in Victoria, B.C., so eloquently said, “the subject of residential schools is still a recent, living history that is affecting many lives and communities today.

37 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Anne Tenning uses her mother Elizabeth Tenning’s experiences as a residential school survivor to help her students understand some of the darker moments in Canada’s history.

“Unlike some survivors, my mother cannot speak openly about the years she spent at residential school because it is still too painful for her, says Anne Tenning.”



Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Aboriginal residential students being taught how to sew circa 1930.


“Having education on residential schools gives you greater understanding of current issues facing First Nations societies. Maybe with understanding, we could rise above stereotypes and racism once light is shed on the dark roots of our past.”




n June 11, 2008, Prime Minster Stephen Harper stood before the House of Commons and issued a formal apology for Canada’s role in the creation and administration of the residential school system, a system designed to destroy aboriginal culture. The apology was history in the making, and thousands of Canadians watched this bittersweet occaPrime Minister Stephen sion as it aired live on television and Harper arrives at the House on the Internet. of Commons to apologize to residential school survivors. For a brief moment, one of the darkest chapters of Canadian history was brought to the surface of public perception. For educators, the apology reinforced the importance of teaching about an era of history that continues to resonate today. Of all of the assimilative policies waged against First Nations people — including the Indian Act, the potlatch ban, and the creation of reserves — none has been as damaging as the residential school system. With the ultimate goal of “civilizing” First Nations people, children were forcibly removed from their families and communities, taken far away to residential schools where the values, language, culture, and religion of the colonizing culture were harshly imposed upon them.

here are remarkable similarities between the prison system and the residential school system. The big difference is that residential schools were not filled with inmates, but with children and youth whose “crime” was being born into a culture considered inferior by Canadian lawmakers of the time. Though the goal was to “civilize” the children, there was nothing remotely civilized about this system. Children were treated with neglect, abuse, and disrespect, often for the first time in their lives. Abuse in many forms was rampant, and substandard living conditions and poor nutrition were the norm. The quality of education was minimal as students spent much of their time maintaining the schools and participating in religious activities. Worst of all, children were essentially robbed of their childhoods and denied the basic rights of a child: to be loved, protected, and cared for by their families. A significant proportion of children in residential schools died from disease, malnutrition, abuse, suicide, or in attempts to escape. One of the most poignant parts of Prime Minister Harper’s apology was when he said, “regrettably, many former students are not with us today and died having never received a full apology from the government of Canada.” Students who survived today carry with them indescribable pain and anguish. The students of my BC First Nations Studies 12 course learn from many cultural experts, and learning activities are hands-on and authentic. For instance, with every guest speaker and field trip, students experience the aboriginal oral tradition. Every Friday, students participate in a traditional talking circle, giving each student an equal opportunity to speak about topics that are being addressed in the class and to share how they are doing in general. This means we establish a strong sense of community; by the end of the course we feel like a family. One of the most powerful ways to teach this topic is to invite a residential school survivor into your classroom. Not all survivors can talk about their experiences, but some are at a place in their healing journey where they are comfortable talking to a student audience eager to un-

the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History and has taught First Nations Studies at Victoria High School in Victoria, British Columbia, for the past eight years.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Anne Tenning is a recipient of



derstand more about this topic. Alex Nelson has had a great impact on my students. In his presentations, Alex tells us about the years he spent at St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay, B.C. He shares some of his most personal and painful memories, the impact these experiences had on his life, and what he needed to do to find his healing path. Students who listen to Alex Nelson meet not only a residential school survivor, but also an aboriginal role model and hero. To bring the residential school topic to life in your classroom, begin by contacting your local aboriginal community, or an aboriginal education liaison in your school district, to recommend a speaker. Confirm that your speaker is comfortable with coming in to talk about their residential school experience. Prior to the presentation, prepare your class by providing background knowledge about residential schools, brainstorming questions to ask the speaker, and reviewing respectful behaviour. Welcome your speaker by having your students introduce themselves. Afterwards, provide your speaker with a gift or an honorarium. Students can also sign a thank-you card, or, even better, write letters to the speaker about the presentation. The impact the experience has on students is unquestionable. As one of my students, Tejas P., said in his journal: “Mr. Nelson turned his … experiences into something instructive. Like all great orators, he spoke simply, but with great power. His words brought to life the dank halls of the ‘Big School,’ the dining rooms filled with the smell of detergent and wide-eyed kids, and the cold, callous countenances of the teachers and attendants. It was definitely more powerful than any old black-and-white photograph.” I asked Alex Nelson after one of his recent presentations why he thinks it is important to speak to students. “Reading about [residential schools] is one thing, but to actually hear hands-on from a storyteller — it is a living history,” he said. “Right now I’m really glad that this is happening because many residential school students are passing on, so the opportunity right now is to try to gather as many oral records from these students as we can.” The historical insight students gain from hearing from survivors is invaluable, as is meeting an aboriginal role model and seeing the qualities of strength and resilience first-hand. As another of my students, Alex W., said, “Alex Nelson seems like the kind of man that I am aiming to become.” There is no better place During a classroom to bring awareness about resitalking circle, only dential schools forward than the student holding in our classrooms. A thorough the shell has the understanding about residenright to speak. tial schools is crucial to understanding Canadian history as a whole.

Traditional drummers chant for dancers.

Traditional teaching


he B.C. First Nations Studies 12 social studies course examines the history of British Columbia from an aboriginal perspective. The course begins by teaching about the rich, diverse, and vibrant aboriginal cultures that existed here for thousands of years before the arrival of the first explorers and settlers. Much time is spent addressing first contact, the fur trade, the impact of European diseases, and the colonialist policies affecting B.C.’s aboriginal people. In addition, students learn about the role of aboriginal soldiers in the world wars, early aboriginal activists and leaders, the current state of treaty negotiations in B.C., and contemporary aboriginal social and political issues. When I teach BC First Nations Studies 12, I try to incorporate as many traditional aboriginal teaching strategies as possible. In many pre-contact aboriginal cultures, children were taught not by a select few, but by many members of their family, their extended family, and the wider community. To emulate this, I bring in many guest speakers who can address topics from a first-hand perspective. Students participate in aboriginal spirituality activities, such as drumming, singing, and guided visualization, led by an aboriginal culture teacher. They learn about the impact of the Indian Act by listening to a speaker’s personal stories. They learn about the importance of the potlatch system by going into a longhouse. They learn about the relationship aboriginal people have with the land by going out into the environment. To examine the modern-day treaty process, actual treaty negotiators are brought into the classroom. I have also invited university instructors to speak to the students about indigenous governance and traditional aboriginal technology. — A.T.

Elders Sophie Smarch, right, and Martha Van Heel listen to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology at the Council of Yukon First Nations building in Whitehorse, Yukon, June 11, 2008.

40 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue



ven though the majority of residential schools were closed by the 1960s, the impact of these schools continues to reverberate throughout First Nations communities today. The aboriginal population experiences disproportionate rates of poverty, incarceration, substance abuse, health concerns, and educational difficulties compared to non-aboriginals. Though these differences do not apply to most aboriginal people, many people continue to perceive aboriginal people in negative stereotypical ways. Many people do not realize that the challenging issues facing aboriginal people are symptoms of a deeper and darker collective history. Education is a vital link in confronting and dismantling these harmful stereotypes. In addition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic apology, residential school survivors are also being offered financial compensation from the government. In May 2006, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was signed — the largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history. The first part of the settlement, the Common Experience Payments, is based on the number of years a person spent in residential school. The Independent Assessment Process, the second part of the

settlement, is financial compensation based on physical or sexual abuse suffered. Applicants must recount in detail the painful, personal, and degrading experiences of their abuse in order to receive compensation. Many survivors are now in their sixties, seventies, or older, and they are being asked to remember atrocities that happened fifty or more years ago. For some, the IAP hearing will be the first time they have spoken about their experiences. As difficult as it is for them to delve into these painful memories, a lot can be learned from hearing their personal accounts. The history of residential schools has until recently been told mostly from the perspective of the colonizers, and it is essential that we also hear from the former students. It is for this reason that the government implemented the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission has a fiveyear mandate to give residential school survivors a chance to tell and document their stories. The commission will compile a historical record of the residential school system, improve public awareness and education about this topic, and make recommendations to the government on how to deal with the residential school legacy. — A.T.

41 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

When it comes to teaching Canada’s history, think locally. By Rose Fine-Meyer


42 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


n the community where I teach, there’s a park that has defined outdoor life in the neighbourhood for generations.Whether it’s sledding in the winter, or strolling the grounds in the summer, people have enjoyed the park’s many pleasures for more than seventy years. The park would likely seem familiar to many Canadians, who grew up in communities just like this one. For countless Canadians, life has been defined by their neighbourhood and the people in it. Every time they attended the local school, enjoyed the park or hockey rink, ate out at local restaurants, or bought snacks from a corner store, they weaved new strands that, when combined, formed the tapestry that is their community’s local history. It is this local history that really defines who we are and what we do. And while national icons and symbols do help us visualize our country, it is often difficult to see how they relate to our everyday experiences. They also don’t speak to the role that local communities have played in forging our collective Canadian identity. Teachers are tasked with helping students understand the society in which they live so that they will be better able to take their place as active, contributing members. But the answer to how this is done isn’t necessarily found in textbooks or articles, the library, or even Google. The answer is most often found next door. This is the idea behind my Grade 12 university preparation course, Archives and Local History, which is now in the Ontario curriculum planner, waiting for schools to adopt it across the province — and, I hope, across Canada. My course is designed primarily to allow students to explore how their community has come to define their own identity, as individuals and as Canadians. The course begins in our own classroom and school hallways. What are the pictures hanging on the wall? What was on this site before the school, and why was a school built here? Who wandered these halls and how did their experiences influence the school as it is today? For example, after researching their school’s history, my students found that early yearbooks featured only those who

excelled at sports or academics. Photos showed boys swimming naked in their classes in the “swimming tank” in the forties and fifties. Girls were always shown in photos to be concerned with fitness and health classes. During World War II, classes with topics such as aircraft recognition appeared on the syllabus. My students follow the architectural changes made over the one-hundred-year history of our school. They soon learn that our current gym was the former cafeteria; students of the past ate at massive oak tables under skylights and were expected to remain in the room until the end of the lunch period. After studying their school, the students take to the streets to research homes in the community. Sometimes they examine the history of their own house or apartment, digging up stories about the building, the property, and the people who lived there. Vanessa, one of my students, researched her home and discovered surprising artifacts. “When the house was bought thirty years ago, it was in a horrible state and my grandparents had to do major renovations,” she explained. “While knocking down one wall, they found a small pack of cigarillos, an adult magazine, and a Victory Bond button from the First World War.” Another student, Andrea, said her family found “chests filled with documents and personal letters in the attic of the house they had lived in for many years. We never knew they were there.” nce students have immersed themselves in their local history, they branch out. Students examine the broader community, the city, and the province. They go to local historical sites, visit museums, and tour heritage houses. Each student is assigned a section of a major retail street within their community and asked to study the history of the stores there. One of my students, Alex, noted how “growing up in an area for your entire life makes it difficult to imagine what it looked like before you got there.” On one occasion, my students visited Colborne Lodge, a cottage that commemorates the lives of John and Jemima Howard, the couple who founded High Park in Toronto. My students examined photos and sketches of the park and compared the way the park was used in the past with how it is used today. This process provides students insight into the history of the demographics of their community and links them to their environment. The final step for my students is to dig into the history buried in their own backyards. As “trained archaeologists,” they do a proper archaeological dig in order to find something of their past. Sometimes they find amazing and educational treasures.

The course’s most important value is its direct link to the local community.

Students digging up their own backyards for historical research.



One of my students found a barrel hoop buried in her backyard. She cleverly created a story that linked the history of the community with Prohibition. The area in which she lived was one of the oldest dry areas in Toronto and didn’t allow alcohol to be sold until 1997. My student surmised that the former owners must have been making their own alcohol in barrels in their garden shed, which still stands on the property today. Another student, Rosemary, found a piece of antique porcelain from a toiletry or tea set. “I ran into the house to tell my family that we found real items from the past,” she said. Other students over the years have found old bottles, skeleton keys, and parts of railroad tracks that date back to when the community was a junction on a central Ontario railroad artery. In each of these cases, the discovery set the student’s imagination afire. They were suddenly part of the story they were researching — a history that has always surrounded them, but one they had never stopped to consider or examine. s the course progresses every year, I notice my students becoming more observant and much more interested in local issues. They begin taking steps toward becoming full, participating citizens in their community. Local community activism forms the foundation of a strong democratic society, and these students are engaged in the discovery of local issues that link them to community as well as national identities, both past and present. This course teaches students key skills, such as researching, and improves their historical inquiry skills. However, the course’s most important value is its direct link to the local community. There are many ways to enhance the experience for students, such as by examining local documents, films, and books, as well as by inviting key community figures to speak with students. Archivists, local historians, town and city planners, and community elders all


have valuable insights to share. In most cases, they are eager and willing to pass their insights on to students; they are simply waiting for teachers to reach out and offer them the opportunity. It’s been argued by some Canadians that students’ lack of knowledge about their history presents the country with a crisis. The solutions are many, but often involve either finding ways to make the national stories more engaging or making Canadian history courses mandatory. Although I clearly support both initiatives, I believe that looking in one’s own backyard, or across the street, can provide a window to the past that directly links what we do and who we are with those who stood on the same ground before us. Central to our education are the stories of local communities, the people in them, and how they shaped this country in their own ways. It is both fascinating and exciting for students to come so close to their history — and it’s up to teachers to give them the opportunity to become truly engaged in their communities’ ongoing stories and the ways in which this local history ties them to the history of all Canadians. Rose Fine-Meyer was recognized in 2007 with the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. She is currently completing her Doctorate in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.



n our school hangs a massive stained-glass window commissioned in the 1920s to honour the soldiers who did not return from the Great War. Commemorating their sacrifice was important to the postwar community, and still is today. After several months of researching soldiers from their neighbourhood, my students travelled to Ottawa to view the actual military files. The students have the chance to hold each soldier’s file in their own hands and to see the emotional and physical struggles soldiers faced. For Sonja Smiljanic, one of my former students, the trip was a key moment. “For me, that trip brought together everything I had learned in the class up to that point about local history and the desperate need to preserve it properly.” It is an emotional experience for each student, one that links a local boy’s story to a national story. I would suggest that this makes the sacrifice of war much more meaningful and makes the concept of what it means to be Canadians much clearer, more immediate. Holding the soldiers’ files in their hands made students aware, for the first time, of what it was to be part of the continuum of Canadian history. Former students had gone off to a foreign war and had not returned. My students now understand these sacrifices in a very personal and direct way — establishing a broader understanding of the impact of war for all Canadians, both in the past and in the present. — R.F.M.

45 1 Teaching Issue Teaching Canada’s Canada’s History | Special Issue

Have your students relive the lives of fallen veterans. By BLAKE SEWARD

46 2 Teaching Teaching Canada’s Canada’s History | Special Issue Issue

communities were compelled to honour the sacrifice of those who had served and died.



of life during the First World War, communities felt compelled to honour the sacrifice of those who had served and died. The cenotaphs also acted as enduring symbols of communal grief. Today, however — when the honour roll of names on each cenotaph is read aloud — I wonder, what do we know about them? Did they die in battle? In which theatre of war? In which branch of service? Did they volunteer, or were they conscripted? The Lest We Forget project helps answer those questions. In it, students of Canadian history adopt a person named on their local cenotaph or school roll of honour and write the biography of that person. There is certainly no lack of names to research: More than 66,000 Canadians died in World War I and another 36,000 died in World War II. Students from Smiths Falls completed the research on their local cenotaph in 2004. Since then, each year’s students have completed more than one hundred biographies by adopting cenotaph names randomly selected from other places in Canada. After they have completed their research, the students make a pilgrimage to European battlefields to walk in the steps of their adopted veterans.

Making it happen


ou may be thinking, this sounds like a good project, but how and where do I start? The place to begin is at Library and Archives Canada. LAC is home to a large collection of military personnel records of each soldier and nursing sister of the First World War — and all of them are available for students to access. The attestation papers (enlistment pages) are available online, as well as the war diaries

Number of war memorials

listed in Canada


n Remembrance Day 2001, I stood with my wife Ann and our two children Rebecca and Benjamin at our local cenotaph, which is prominently located in Smiths Falls, a small Ontario town of nine thousand people. I had just finished researching my great-uncle Clarence Mainse, who fought and died at the battle of Passchendaele in November 1917. This wasn’t by any means the first Remembrance Day ceremony I had attended, but something about this ceremony was different for me. Learning the history behind Clarence’s death had given more meaning to the notion and act of remembrance. For the first time, I felt a personal connection to the names on the cenotaph. No longer were they merely names etched in cold stone. They represented living, breathing Canadians, with their own personal stories to share. It suddenly struck me: What if I had my Canadian history students adopt the names off our local cenotaph, and had them research the soldiers’ lives as I had my great-uncle’s? What kind of emotional and educational connection would occur? With that thought, the Lest We Forget project was born. When it comes to telling the stories of the world wars, the challenge for most teachers is finding ways to engage their students in events that seem like ancient history. After all, it has been more than ninety years since the end of the First World War, and more than sixty years since the end of World War II. How can we make this story seem important to our students? The answer may be found in virtually every city, town, and village — at the community cenotaph. In years past the cenotaph was an important and unifying symbol in Canadian communities. Following the terrible loss


or the majority of students, the project’s emotional impact is most keenly felt during the pilgrimage to Europe to retrace their soldiers’ final steps. We locate the graves of the soldiers and talk about what life must have been like there during the wars. The students complete a graveside presentation where each one reads aloud their soldier’s biography and completes a rubbing of the grave marker’s inscription. Students are often profoundly moved. Melanie Fisher pays respects to her fallen soldier with WWII veteran Jack Ranger.

Sixteen-year-old student Melanie Fisher worked and saved her money for a year after she completed her research to travel on the 2005 Smiths Falls pilgrimage. When Melanie reached her soldier’s grave, she was accompanied by Second World War veteran Jack Ranger. Ranger has travelled with students to the battlefields several times over the years. Melanie was overcome with emotion as she read her biography of Private John Foster, who rests at Regina Trench Cemetery in France. Melanie co-wrote the biography with fellow student Jenna Mantle, who visited Private John Foster’s grave on the 2004 battlefield tour. Students can submit their projects to Veterans Affairs Canada and have them posted on the department’s website. Other options for teachers are publishing the biographies in a book or turning them into movie files and posting them on Facebook, YouTube, or other social networking sites. The stories of our veterans are relatively unknown and in danger of being forgotten. I believe that if we know nothing more than the names on our cenotaphs, then the soldiers’ sacrifices have been in vain. Few events in Canadian history have had the same impact on Canada as the two world wars. The opportunity for students to turn back the pages of the past and write local history is essential if we want the next generation of Canadian citizens to be engaged and learn Canadian history. Blake Seward is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. He lives and teaches in Smiths Falls, Ontario.

Teachers on the battlefield


You can find memorials in your community and across the country in the National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials.

he Canadian Battlefields Tour takes teachers to battlefields and cemeteries in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. During the tour, teachers are challenged with critical questions and provided scenarios that they can later use in their classrooms. They also adopt a soldier from their own province. Linda O’Reilly, a teacher from Newfoundland and Labrador, spoke passionately about her soldier, Douglas Snow, who died on July 1, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel. “I feel as though I have all of Newfoundland with me right now,” she said. In 2008, teachers participated in a dedication to the South Saskatchewan Regiment at Verrieres Ridge south of Caen, France. — B.S.

Teaching Issue Teaching Canada’s Canada’s History | Special Issue

Going to Europe

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of each battalion, brigade, and division. In total, more than one million military documents have been digitized. Class visits to consult original documents can be arranged at LAC at no cost. Workshops are offered in French and English. Teachers can also order copies of the soldiers’ military files from LAC. Inside each file, students will find details such as medical records, battalion information, troop movements, death cards, and pay schedules. Once documents arrive, students can supplement these primary documents with secondary sources, such as history books and other online texts. As the puzzle pieces come together, a picture of the adopted soldier starts to form. Suddenly, the cold surface of the cenotaph becomes warm with a new understanding and perspective of why that soldier’s name is permanently etched on that stone. For some students, the project results in a deep personal connection to the names on the cenotaphs — especially if they’re related to the soldier in question. For instance, in 2007 I had the opportunity to bring my tenyear-old daughter Rebecca with my Canadian history class to visit great-uncle Clarence’s grave at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery outside Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. “I felt like it was my turn in the family to remember this man I had never met. I was happy but also sad,” Rebecca said after we came back home. Students without these familial connections often treat their research like a crime scene investigation mystery — hunting for clues, sifting through documents, and coming to understand the life and humanity behind the name on the cenotaph. In many cases, students are the first to have researched these soldiers. In effect, they become the custodians of their soldiers’ lives.

48 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Class Acts

Joe Stafford and his students at St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School.


Rewarding risk

Good things happen when teachers take chances, says Joe Stafford.


tepping into your first classroom can be a scary proposition. I remember my first day of teaching — of feeling filled with anticipation as thirty-five Grade 10 history students stared at back at me. I was determined to inspire them with the history that I knew and loved. But I quickly discovered that engaging students was much more challenging that I had expected. Curriculum alone wasn’t going to inspire my students. I needed to do more — and knew that I didn’t want to be the teacher whose major strategy was to ask students to “read pages eighty-five to ninety-three and answer the following questions.” One way to bring history alive, I believed, was through roleplaying and re-enactment. Trouble was, I didn’t know where to start. I was worried about leaving my comfort zone, and the thought crossed my mind that it would be easier, and less risky, not to bother. Fortunately, a fellow teacher with more experience learned of my concerns and challenged me to take a chance. Start small, he suggested, with a short activity, and see how it goes. Even if the project is a flop, he said, the students would still appreciate my efforts at going above and beyond. So, nervously, I took the plunge and organized a recreation of Canada’s 1927 Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. You should have seen the looks on my students’ faces when I told them they’d be dressing up in hoop skirts and top hats.

I held my breath. Would they treat it like a joke, or roll their eyes in embarrassment? The kids were soon laughing, all right, but it was because they were having a great time. When they slipped on their costumes, the boredom of the chalkboard disappeared underneath. One student described the experience as “like walking backwards in time … it made classes and lessons on the chalkboard more exciting … and gets everyone involved.” My mentor had been right — my students were thrilled to step literally into Canada’s past; they just had never been given the chance. They were learning, and having fun doing it. The students not only appreciated the effort, they were grateful that I had trusted them enough to step outside the textbook and take a chance. And in over twenty years I’ve never had a problem with student behaviour — the great unspoken fear of most teachers. Sometimes, we might think it’s easier to avoid risks; to play it safe, by the books. But the greatest rewards go to teachers who face challenges head-on. And there certainly are challenges. Too often, Canadian history gets pushed to the back burner. Over the years, some courses become more trendy or are perceived by parents as easier routes to university. If the history department is not actively promoting history courses, enrolment drops and teachers are forced into other areas. To change this trend, teachers need to reveal the many wonderful,

49 We’ve managed to build a strong working relationship with the local historical society and regularly invite its members to our school for our student conference. Students in turn often participate in the historical society’s annual banquet. They have also become engaged with our local community, with one student even being elected to the municipal government’s heritage committee. Today, visitors to my class often feel like they’ve stepped back in time. Open our classroom door and you might find a recreation of a 1950s soda shop, complete with jitterbugging students, or a political rally with angry hippies protesting against the Vietnam War! What you definitely won’t find are bored students, or a teacher standing at the front of the class, speaking in monotone as he asks the students to “read pages eighty-five to ninety-three and …” That’s thanks to some good advice, plus a willingness to take a risk years ago. Take the risk. Take the first step, and you will never look back.

­ y students were M thrilled to step literally into Canada’s past; they just had never been given the chance. They were learning, and having fun doing it.

Joe Stafford is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. He teaches at St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School in Belleville, Ontario.

Canada’s History Society

We are looking for outstanding history teachers who have inspired and challenged students to explore Canada’s past! Winners receive a cash award, medal, and a trip for two to the award ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa!

Nomin accep ations te Spring d until 2010

If you or a teacher you know deserves recognition, enter your nomination! For more information, visit our website at historysociety.ca/gga.asp

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

interesting, and intriguing stories from Canada’s past. We also need to make connections between the present and the past, and explain how both are shaping our future. We need to help our students understand that the characters from Canada’s history were once living, breathing people just like them, with their own joys and fears, hopes and aspirations. Textbooks will tell us, for instance, that “Baldwin and LaFontaine brought in a variety of reforms before they both retired in 1851.” But do they also tell us that after the death of Robert Baldwin’s wife he was incapacitated for weeks? Or that he requested that his coffin be chained to his wife’s, and that his body be cut with the same incision that killed his wife in a failed Caesarean section? One can only imagine the depth of his personal agony. Certainly, no student would ever find that type of history boring. And don’t simply limit your efforts to the classroom. In my school, we formed a history club years ago to help students with the re-enactments they were creating. We also formed a club to enhance the profile of the history department within the school. The Renaissance Society holds student conferences each year on different topics in Canadian history, but always with the same theme: the past, the present, and the future.

50 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Getaway Below: Teacher Charles Hou speaks to students during a field trip. Right: Students re-enacting history.



Back to the land I

Inspire your students by visiting the places where history was made says, Charles Hou. firmly believe that field trips are an essential part of teaching history. They are just as essential for social studies classes as labs are for science classes, and the physical landscape is as important a source of historical evidence as any other type of primary source. Students, after all, need practice analyzing and interpreting all possible remains of the past. Soon after graduating from university, I canoed along the Parsnip and Peace rivers in the northern British Columbia territory Alexander Mackenzie had explored, a trip that helped me develop a much greater appreciation for the feats of Canadian explorers. Later, my wife and I hiked and canoed our way through the area of the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon, and we visited sites associated with Louis Riel in Saskatchewan and Montana. The locations where important events occurred never fail to move me. So when I became a teacher, it was only natural that I would want to share my passion for history with students and take them on field trips to historic sites. One of the first was to Fort Langley in Langley, British Columbia, the National Historic Site closest to my school. The fort contains some original buildings and several accurate reconstructions, and is staffed by docents with a genuine interest in history. However, it was difficult for students arriving by bus to connect with life in a nineteenth-century fort. The next year, I had students dress as voyageurs and canoe to the fort from a point fifteen kilometres upriver. Singing FrenchCanadian songs along the way, they experienced the smells, sounds, and sights of the river, and arrived at the fort just as

people would have in the nineteenth century. The home economics teacher and some of the students prepared pea soup, bannock, and sugar pie for us to eat on the banks of the river, and another student piped the “voyageurs” to the fort. The drama teacher had students re-enact the 1858 ceremony that made B.C. a Crown colony. The students then toured the fort, plus the local museum and cemetery. On another trip, I took students further up the Fraser River to hike an early Hudson’s Bay Company fur brigade trail. The students followed the steep Cascade Mountains trail used by aboriginal people for thousands of years, by horse brigades in 1848–49, and by miners during the gold rush of 1858 to 1860. They got to experience some of the hardships of the brigadiers and gold miners, and literally followed in the footsteps of notable personalities like A. C. Anderson, Matthew Baillie Begbie, and James Douglas. Our campsite overlooking the Black Canyon of the Fraser River was an ideal spot from which to give a lesson on aboriginal history, the fur trade, and the gold rush. Teaching at historic places is a great way of engaging students in our past and developing in them a lifelong interest in Canadian history. Fortunately for teachers, every province has historic sites and trails as well as places where famous debates, trials, and other events took place. Charles Hou is a retired educator who served on the board of directors of Canada’s National History Society for several years and is active in the British Columbia Historical Federation and the Vancouver Historical Society.

51 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Ten great canadian history field trips There are more than 1,500 National Historic Sites across Canada and thousands of other destinations dedicated to provincial and local history. Canada’s National History Society has put together a list of ten field trips every Canadian history teacher should take at some point in their career, and we’ve provided related readings from past issues of The Beaver.

A. INTIAZ RAHIM | www.intiaz.com

Parliament Hill (Ottawa) Besides the Rideau Canal, the Canadian War Museum, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the countless other historic sites in the National Capital Region, a trip to Parliament Hill is a must for understanding Canadian democracy. Walking through the halls of Parliament brings out the debates and passions that shaped our country. Beaver reading: “Parliament in Flames, 1916” (April-May 1992)

L’Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland and Labrador) The visits of Vikings to the shores of Newfoundland left behind one of the most important archeological sites in Canada. On your way to L’Anse aux Meadows, take in the incomparable natural splendour of Gros Morne National Park. Beaver reading: “Viking Farewell” (December 2006-January 2007) PARKS CANADA/DALE WILSON


Old Quebec City (Quebec) Cobblestone streets and alleyways bring visitors through four hundred years of history from the arrival of Champlain to the present day. The Historic District of Old Québec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place every Canadian student should experience. Beaver reading: “New World, Old Charm” (February-March 2008)


Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue




The Fortress of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia)

Pier 21 (Halifax)

One of only two sites outside of Ottawa to be designated a national museum, Pier 21 is the place where more than one million immiThe largest historical reconstruction in Canada, the Fortress of grants entered Canada. It’s also a great spot to begin a historic tour Louisbourg offers a unique historical experience. The site of two of Halifax. separate sieges in 1745 and 1758, it was a key battleground in the Beaver reading: “Along the Waterfront” fight between France and Britain for control of North America. (June-July 2007) Beaver reading: “D-Day at Louisbourg” (June-July 2008)

Vimy Ridge (France) It’s across an ocean, but thanks to the dedication of teachers across Canada, thousands of students make the morethan-five-thousand-kilometre pilgrimage to remember our fallen soldiers in France. From the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, stare across the open Douai Plain, with its still cratered and scarred landscape, for an awe-inspiring experience. Beaver reading: “Vimy Revisited” (April-May 2007) A. INTIAZ RAHIM

53 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Batoche National Historic Site (Saskatchewan)

NAYAN STHANKIYA | nayansthankiya.com

Located about one hundred kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, Batoche National Historic Site is where Louis Riel headquartered during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and fought his final battle. It is one of five National Historic Sites in an area rich in history. Beaver reading: “Rebellion Route” (August-September 2006)


SUSI HAVEN-BEZAIRE | www.Bezaires.com

Dawson City (Yukon) The original Klondike town, Dawson has been restored by Parks Canada. Stop in at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, pan for gold, and camp out under the northern lights to experience a completely different world. Beaver reading: “Mining Tourist Gold” (October-November 2007)

Barkerville Historic Town (British Columbia) Step back into the rough and tumble days of the gold rush at Barkerville Historic Town, southeast of Prince George. With the help of live animators, students can learn about the justice system, schooling, and way of life experienced in early British Columbia. Beaver reading: “All That Glitters” (February-March 2005)

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (Winnipeg) Construction has just begun, but once work is completed thousands of students from across Canada will travel to Winnipeg to learn first hand the saga of our human rights. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will bring together Canadian experiences and international outlook to inspire a new generation of human rights advocates. CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Beaver reading: “Votes for Women!” (October-November 1993)

54 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

history is


resource Dozens of links to even more of the best material for your classroom. Just over twenty years ago, historian P.B. Waite published a reference guide to Canadian history resources. In a small section near the back of the guide, he noted cheerfully that “a substantial amount of historical information is available online,” though only to those “with access to a microcomputer, or terminal and modem, or to an institutional mainframe computer.” Thankfully, the need for mainframe computers has passed. (Even so, Waite’s guide remains an excellent link to the standards of Canadian history.) Today, resources are available at the click of a button any time of day. Every resource we have listed below links to a website or to more information. The teacher profiles and quotations link to lesson plans and YouTube videos that allow you to meet each teacher individually. We encourage you to explore these links by visiting our interactive online magazine at www.canadashistory.ca/teaching — one click that takes you to thousands more.

In this guide we have also provided a way to link to other educators who share your needs and interests in Canadian history, via the social bookmarking website Delicious. Many of the resources include a link to someone else who found this resource, and tagged it as interesting. You can visit their bookmarks on Delicious. Chances are, if you liked this resource, you might share some other resources in common. Some of these resources will be helpful and some of them won’t. You never know what the perfect resource might be until you need it. What resources do you know about that might be helpful to other educators? Watch the Common Craft video about social bookmarking, create a Delicious account, and start sharing your resources by tagging them with “teachingcanadashistory” and the distinctive course code for your class. When we share resources, it makes all our classrooms stronger.

<R>ESOURCES Exemplars in Historical Thinking: 20th Century Canada Edited by Garfield Gini-Newman and Catriona Misfeldt. Integrating historical thinking into your classroom is one of the most important tasks for Canadian history teachers. The Critical Thinking Consortium continues to publish excellent resources for just that task. Exemplars in Historical Thinking: 20th Century Canada takes you through hands-on examples of lesson plans that will help you achieve this goal. From assessing the historical significance of events to rewriting the textbook, these engaging activities are a must for any classroom. Tagged by edening

AWARDS AND CONTESTS The Pierre Berton Award Each year Canada’s History Society presents the Pierre Berton Award to recognize the best work promoting and sharing our history. The list of winners takes you to excellent stories and resources like The Great War from director Brian McKenna. Winners include author Ken McGoogan’s chronicles of the Canadian North, Will Ferguson’s Why I Hate Canadians, and Charlotte Gray’s insight into our past heroes and heroines.

Sir John A. Macdonald Prize Are you wondering where to find the best new research and writing in Canadian history? Each year the Canadian Historical Association presents the Macdonald Prize for the best new book in Canadian history. Visit The CHA’s website to find past recipients and start your new reading list. You’ll also find other awards related to women’s history, immigration history, labour history, and more.

Great Questions of Canada

Lest We Forget collector cards Put the hockey cards back in the shoebox and trade a “Winston Churchill” and a “Glider Troops Attack” for a “Queen’s Own Rifles.” The Lest We Forget Collector Card Series puts Canada’s war effort into one hundred collectable cards, with a full education kit for teachers. Tagged by scubadeb

Does history matter? Your students can tackle this question and others each year as part of the Great Questions Essay Competition. Students write a 1,500-word essay on key questions for a chance to win $2,000 and a trip to Ottawa to attend Canada’s History Awards.

55 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


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57 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Begbie Contest

Zaki Ibrahim performs at Apathy is Boring’s website launch concert in February 2007.

Apathy is Boring Operation Dialogue Score a 50 out of 51 on an online quiz and your students could be eligible for more than $45,000 in scholarship funds through the Talk About Canada! Scholarship Quiz. Operation Dialogue helps engage Canadians with their past and provides new ideas and resources.

If students could change the way voting occurs, it would look like this. Making learning social and fun again is what Apathy is Boring is all about. Using cool facts, art, music, and anything else that grabs kids’ attention, the website’s goal is to get young people engaged in democracy, Canada, and politics. Find guides for your students, including: “10 Reasons to Become Politically Involved”; “Not a Leader? No Problem”; and “10 Tips on Effective Organizing.” During the last federal election, the website published a “Candidate’s Kit” as a guide for politicians on how to reach young people through social networking tools. The information doubles as a terrific guide on how to reach your students using the online programs they use every day. Tagged by misshampson

CBC Digital Archives One of the largest collections of primary sources online, the extensive records of the CBC Digital Archives are among the best sources for teaching about the twentieth century in Canada. Tagged by mr.kowalenko

“This is learning that goes beyond the textbook.” – Nancy Hamer-Strahl, 2008 GG Award recipient

Newfoundland and Labrador heritage Designed to complement the Grade 8 history curriculum studying Newfoundland and Labrador from 1800 to the present, the website provides a good list of resources and local heritage organizations. Tagged by amflight

Atlantic Canada Portal Need to know about the East Coast? Start at the Atlantic Canada Portal, which connects you to online publications and a full bibliography of sources on the region. Outlines for university-level Atlantic Canadian courses provide a wealth of starting points and connections. The Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives provides direct teaching resources combined with primary source letters and images covering the experience of Loyalists. Special collections look directly at the experience of black Loyalists and women. Tagged by eclinfo


If each school in Canada took up the Begbie Contest, Canadian history would be in a much better place. Start your students on the path to history excellence by signing up your school. Students are challenged in a fun and engaging way to tackle historical thinking and tough issues from Canada’s past.



Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Virtual Museum of Canada

NiCHE Are you interested in the environmental history of Canada? The Network in Canadian History & Environment is a new initiative intended to bring together like-minded researchers looking at the relationship between nature and humans. Access their interesting and lively podcast Nature’s Past each month. It gives you a chance to learn about the newest research in the field of environmental history. Tagged by lms4w

A scene from Murray Village, Quebec, in 1895, available through the McCord Museum Flickr Commons Collection.


The new Interactive Teacher’s Centre at the Virtual Museum of Canada is your stepping stone to the Web 2.0 world. Sign up and create a space for your students in a safe environment. You can access learning resources, primary source documents, and activities from museums across Canada, and then save them in your own account. The virtual museum also offers exhibits, image galleries, and links to museums in your community. Tagged by smlampard

McCord Museum The McCord Museum is one of Canada’s leaders in the development of online collections. With more than 135,000 images of artifacts, paintings, miniatures, clothing, and photographs, its extensive online database is a great starting point for early Canadian history. Virtual exhibits studying editorial cartoons, the photography of Canada, urban life, and magic lantern shows also add colour and life to your lessons. And, of course, the museum’s excellent education section links materials thematically for quick use in the classroom. Perhaps most notably, the McCord Museum has recently joined Flickr Commons, an online database of easily accessible photos. Tagged by Psammead

Resource etiquette When you access history resources from your community, make sure always to provide comments and feedback to the organization, especially if you like what they are doing. Let the organization know what you think of the resource or event and how you use it in your classroom. They’ll love hearing from you.

The Memory Project Remembering Canada’s veterans is one of the most important tasks schools and teachers carry out. The Memory Project from the Historica -Dominion Institute connects veterans with schools and records hundreds of interviews each year. Through the digital archive, your students can access audio, video, and primary sources from Canadian soldiers. Tagged by carla.peck

Where are the Children?: Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools Created by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and Library and Archives Canada, the virtual exhibition takes students on a 3D tour of the Mohawk Residential School in Brantford, Ontario. Shared stories provide video testimonials of the experience at residential schools and primary source photos add to the experience. An interactive Flash presentation provides a thorough introduction to the residential experience and the importance of addressing it in your classroom. Tagged by jatacadia, mmt231


59 Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue


Your provincial archives Your provincial archives is a great place to find primary sources. The Ontario Archives has a great primer for learning, called All About Teaching with Primary Documents, while the Provincial Archives of Alberta demonstrate how to walk students through a historic photograph. Talk to your provincial archives and their education staff to get your students working with primary documents.

Your provincial election department Provincial elections departments can be great places to find information about voting, with lots of great educational resources. Your Power to Choose, the Elections Manitoba kit, includes lesson plans, guides for student elections, ballots, voting screens, posters, and more.

Your provincial history teachers association Most provinces have access to excellent teaching communities through a provincial organization. Becoming a member not only allows you access to great resources and annual conferences, it also supports the development of quality curriculum-related material for the history courses you teach.

“I don’t want them to just take the history of Canada to be what I tell them it is.” – Susan Haynes, 2007 GG Award recipient

Your local museum, library, or heritage society Your local library, museum or heritage society are great sources for history and are often eager to share their resources with your students. The Regina Public Library, for instance, has gone online in a big way, participating with a Prairie History Blog, posting historic photos on Flickr, and listing links to helpful resources. Get in touch with your local history organization, or, better yet, see how your students can help the museum while learning about their history.


Thinking in Mind Neil Stephenson is a Grade 7 teacher at Calgary Science School. Using inquiry-based learning, he has designed the amazing Cigar Box Project as well as gotten his students to share history through Glogster. Neil’s classroom is open, which means you can always peek in to find lesson plans and his thoughts on education. Follow him on his blog Thinking in Mind or at Twit ter @NeilStephenson.



Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue



Google maps: Why have your students read a map when they can create their own? Try Mapping Canada at War or following the paths of European Explorers and Settlers.

Wikipedia: We know you are prob-

History Wire Thinking about history? So is the HistoryWire from the Historica -Dominion Institute. Writers discuss topics in Canadian history. For instance, Carla Peck, associate professor from the University of Alberta, is thinking about risks in the classroom.

The New Digital History Education Exploring how technology can be used to teach social sciences, humanities and history to a new generation of young people. The blog contains lesson plan ideas and links to helpful websites for teachers.

Christopher Moore’s Canadian History Whether “live-blogging” the siege of Quebec in 1759 or pulling out his annual list of Christmas gifts for the historian, Beaver columnist Christopher Moore has the goods on what’s up in Canadian history.

National Dream Read views on Canadian history and democracy from the Historica -Dominion Institute, including posts by president Andrew Cohen. and executive vice-president Marc Chalifoux

ably a little unsure. But Wikipedia for the Classroom will guide you through using the site productively, and Perspectives on Canadians Past will start debate and discussion.

Blogging: Starting your own history teacher blog is a great way to connect with other educators about lesson plans, classroom ideas, and views on history. Starting your own classroom blog is a great way to communicate with students.

Podcasting: Using a free program like Audacity, you can send your students out to record the Soundscape of History or produce their own Podcasts at War, modelled after the news reports of great CBC reporter Matthew Halton.

Red River Spy Mission by Anthony Caruso

Befuddled James Dykstra teaches in Winnipeg, Manitoba, using technology to engage his students. Find student projects, like stop-motion videos and easy ways to connect with students through programs like Google Docs, on his blog Befuddled. You can also find him on Twitter @MrPuffin.

Send your students on a secret mission from Sir John A. Macdonald. Their task is to travel to the Red River Settlement and report back to the government on the new Métis government established by Louis Riel.

Cross-Canada Interactive by Gale Walker and Toby Daigle

How do your students know their past? Read how they can research historical events that have shaped their family history and their own identity.

Canada is a big place! But getting in touch with classrooms on the other side of the country is now easier than ever. The Cross-Canada Interactive project brought together students from Manitoba and New Brunswick to see what makes their communities unique.

Top 10s in Canada

Visual Art

by Nick Brune

by Karon Guttormson

Everyone loves Top 10 lists. Have your students debate, research, and find the Top 10s that make Canadian history engaging and exciting. Use this site to start a new unit or to delve deeper into a larger assignment.

Art can be a great way to inspire your students and encourage their creativity. Reinterpreting Canadian history allows students to express themselves and understand the complexities of Canadian history.

by Linda-Rae J. Carson


“The children learn the lesson that they have responsibilities and very important roles to play, and the power to change the communities that they live in.” – Mike Ward, 2008 GG Award recipient

Help pick Canada’s All-Time Dream Teams To celebrate the VANCOUVER 2010 WINTER GAMES, The Beaver — with your help — will showcase the greatest men’s and women’s hockey players from our illustrious past. Who will make the cut? Wayne Gretzky? Rocket Richard? Hayley Wickenheiser?

The choice is up to YOU!

Hit the history books. Then hit the ice! Go to TheBeaver.ca to enter your picks. pub hockey.indd 62

10/09/09 1:56 PM

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue

Historical Consciousness: Infusing Identity and Citizenship

William J. Cameron is the son of Mildred (Middleton) Cameron and resides in Okotoks, Alberta.

Making a firebreak Mildred Middleton came to Birch Hills, Saskatchewan, in 1924 at the age of nineteen. She had just graduated from Regina Normal School the previous year, arriving to teach at the newly constructed Mankota School. The school building was located on the open prairie of southwestern Saskatchewan. The one-room structure with vestibule was the only building for several kilometres. There were no roads connecting the various school districts, just rough trails, and transportation was either by horse or on foot. The prairie was often subject to fast-moving wildfires. To protect the school and the schoolchildren, firebreaks were regularly ploughed into the unbroken prairie grass. This photo shows Cyril Harpham breaking the ground with his plough, which is being pulled by four oxen. This event was great fun for the schoolchildren, who are taking turns having a ride on the oxen’s backs. William’s mother, Mildred, is shown standing, the third figure from the right. In 1928, the CPR rail line was constructed just over six kilometres to the north of this school and the actual village of Mankota came into being. The school building remained and was renamed Bannock School.

Do you have an old photograph that captures a moment, important or ordinary, in Canada’s history? If you would like to submit it for possible publication, have it copied (please don’t send priceless originals) and mail it to Album, c/o The Beaver, P.O. Box 56060, Portage Place RPO, Winnipeg, MB R3B OG9. Or email your submission to album@thebeaver.ca. Include a brief description of the photo, including its date and location. If possible, identify the people in the photograph and provide further information about the event or situation illustrated. To have your posted submission returned, please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Teaching Canada’s History | Special Issue



Working together with Canada’s National History Society to promote history in the classroom. At TD Bank Financial Group, we’re proud to support Canada’s National History Society’s Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. It’s just part of our commitment to making our communities better.

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