How Stephen Harper is rewriting history

Starting with a $25-million museum overhaul, the Conservatives want to change the way Canadians perceive their past

Blair Gable

Mark O’Neill, president of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the country’s biggest and most-visited museum, is typically an upbeat guy. But as he leads a reporter around Canada Hall, the winding stroll through Canadian history that is one of the museum’s central features, he doesn’t exactly offer a seminar in cheery tour-guide patter.

At about the midpoint of the walk, which starts with the Vikings arriving and ends in a 1960s-vintage airport lounge, O’Neill steps into one of his favourite installations—an intact early 20th-century Ukrainian Catholic church, painstakingly relocated to the museum from Smoky Lake, Alta. “Look around,” he says. “You will learn virtually nothing about Ukrainian Canadians. You will learn nothing about the first Canadian internment camps. You will learn nothing about the Ukrainian community today.”

His frustration is not limited to how the charming St. Onuphrius Church seems cut off from any wider historical context. In fact, O’Neill voices similar complaints at just about every turn. He shakes his head at the way the hall’s Acadian section teaches about how early French settlers farmed salt marshes on the Bay of Fundy, but little on their expulsion in 1755. The mock-up of a square in 18th-century New France is lovely, and O’Neill admits it’s popular, but he complains that it conveys next to nothing about actual historical events. There’s a convincing Red River cart, but he bemoans the lack of much, aside from a lonely text panel on the wall, about Louis Riel’s rebellions. A little further along, he slumps into a vinyl kitchen chair in a meticulously reconstructed—O’Neill actually calls it “sort of bizarre”—Chinese laundry. “How does this deal with Chinese-Canadian history?” he asks.

O’Neill gathers all these flaws and failings together in a sweeping critique. “It’s not sufficient,” he sums up, “that you can walk through this hall and learn very little about the history of Canada.” He’s willing to be so blunt because the government has given him $25 million to overhaul Canada Hall as his museum is rebranded the Canadian Museum of History. And the revamping of this major federal institution—in its prime location on the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Que., just across from Parliament Hill—is just one element in the Conservatives’ wider strategy for changing the way Canadians perceive their past. It’s all timed to build to a crescendo for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

A history-heavy advertizing blitz leading up to the sesquicentennial, with a proposed $20-million budget, is in the works at Heritage Canada. Last month, the department announced $12 million for a Canada History Fund. It will pay for, among other things, new awards for outstanding high school history students and teachers. Who could object? Yet the push is prompting angry charges that the Tories are manipulating history for ideological purposes. The NDP accuses them of “remaking the Museum of Civilization in their image,” pointing to the high-profile commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 as evidence of a Conservative bias for celebrating military exploits over, say, exploring social history.

Professional historians hotly debate the issue, too. The Canadian History Association detects “a pattern of politically charged heritage policy” that includes both the changes underway at O’Neill’s museum and the War of 1812 publicity campaign. “Canadian history has been conscripted,” declared Queen’s University history professor Ian McKay in a widely noted 2011 lecture, provocatively titled, “The Empire Fights Back: Militarism, Imperial Nostalgia, and the Right-Wing Reconceptualization of Canada.”

McKay charges Stephen Harper’s government with promoting a narrow, war-obsessed version of Canadian history, a slant he traces largely to the writings of prominent historians like Jack Granatstein and David Bercuson. Granatstein, in particular, is an inspiration for the Harper government’s approach to history. James Moore, who as heritage minister from the fall of 2008 until this month’s cabinet shuffle, which saw him become minister of industry, spearheaded the government’s history offensive. Moore often mentions “Jack” in speeches and, in an interview with Maclean’s, Granatstein is the sole historian he refers to by name.

And the book Moore cites is Who Killed Canadian History?, the polemical 1998 bestseller in which Granatstein framed his side of the debate that’s still raging. He complained that political and military history had been all but banished from Canada’s classrooms in favour of social themes, especially trendy topics such as regional and ethnic history. In danger of being lost, Granatstein wrote, was the shared military, political and economic history that undergirds “the larger national and pan-Canadian identity.”

Granatstein’s lament is echoed in Moore’s speeches. “We live in a country where so many young people aren’t taught and don’t know and don’t have access to those stories that made this country so great and so brilliant,” he said recently. Harper’s top election strategists, including the late Sen. Doug Finley, have framed patriotism, especially linked to military heritage, as a key element in the Conservative brand.

Still, Moore says no Conservative politician will order federal museums to showcase any particular version of the past. “Not once have I ever spoken to Mark O’Neill and said, ‘Hey, do a little more Terry Fox, a little less Anne of Green Gables,’ ” he says. “The barrier between the minister and the museums is very explicit in the Museums Act..” Critics worry, though, that Moore has already steered the museum, and federal history programs in general, in a new direction.

The museum’s 1990 mandate grandly directed it to “increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behaviour.” But Moore’s new law adjusts the core purpose to enhancing “Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity.” Dominique Marshall, a history professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and president of the Canadian Historical Association red-flags the dropping of “critical understanding” as a signal that the museum’s job is now to popularize history, rather than probe the past.

Non-experts might wonder if that isn’t just professorial fussing over a few words. But O’Neill’s predecessor, Victor Rabinovitch, who headed the museum from 2000 to 2011, also objects strenuously. “Why would you abandon the word ‘civilization’?” he asks. “Why would you reduce so significantly the mandate of the museum…?” Not surprisingly, Rabinovitch, now an adjunct policy professor at Queen’s University, answers his own questions. “My feeling,” he says, “is that they want to invent a type of muscular history that would link into a form of muscular identity.”

By “they,” of course, he means Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. The history debaters tend to see party stripes translating into starkly contrasting perspectives on Canada’s past. A rough sketch might go like this: Liberals favoured history that elevates the experiences of ordinary people and emphasizes social topics like immigration, while Conservatives prefer “great man” history, Canada’s British heritage and plenty of war stories. There’s some truth to that, but it’s not so simple. In fact, key steps in the direction now associated with the Tories actually began under the Liberals—with the Canadian Museum of Civilization often at the centre of shifting ideas about history and national identity.

Almost from the time the museum opened in a dramatic new building in 1989, it has been a lightning rod for arguments about the way Canada’s past is presented. Strongly influenced by Disney World’s EPCOT Center, which had opened in 1982, the museum featured too many mock-up scenes and replicas for old-school visitors, who longed to see real artifacts behind glass. As well, the trend in university history departments toward studying everyday life—rather than landmark events and famous figures—strongly influenced those Canada Hall exhibits and other sections of the museum.

When Rabinovitch took over in 2000, he began trying to address those criticisms. Too much emphasis on common folk? He brought in grand personalities in a new exhibit area spotlighting notable Canadians, from Sir John A. Macdonald to Mordecai Richler. Not enough real-McCoy artifacts? More were installed, including Macdonald’s whisky flask and Richler’s typewriter.

But the biggest news for fans of traditional history would be the creation of a new Canadian War Museum. Championed by both Rabinovitch and Granatstein, the ambitious project was financed by Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government. Since opening in 2005 as a branch plant of the Museum of Civilization, but housed in its own striking low-slung building just west of Parliament Hill, it’s a proven crowd-pleaser. After they won power in 2006, the Conservatives embraced the war museum as a model for conveying a compelling national historical narrative.

Before being promoted to run its parent museum in 2011, O’Neill headed the war museum for four years. He touts its backbone of permanent exhibits, which trace the country’s war history from Aboriginal conflicts through the World Wars to the post-Cold War era. Unlike the Canada Hall’s preoccupation with daily life, the war museum’s walk through history blends stories of top military and political leaders, and major battles, with rank-and-file and home-front experiences. “Key players are there, ordinary Canadians are there,” O’Neill says. “You learn the history of the country through the voices and faces of the men, women and institutions that created that history.”

According to O’Neill, that mix of top-down and bottom-up viewpoints offers plenty of room for warts-and-all history lessons. He doesn’t disguise his frustration with skeptics who presume his reworked hall of history will be dominated by upbeat episodes. For instance, he expects internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War to be explored, along with the 1970 October Crisis and the suspension of civil liberties in Quebec.

But O’Neill is battling suspicion that his museum’s goals and the government’s aims are blurring. He asserts his independence; Moore declares he respects it. The Canadian History Association, however, has written that changing the museum’s name and mandate “appears to reflect a new use of history to support the government’s political agenda.” Moore has said that in the run-up to the country’s 150th birthday, federal museums should tell Canadians “more about the achievements and accomplishments that have shaped our great country.”

When it comes to putting a patriotic gloss on the past, Conservatives regard their $28-million War of 1812 commemorations as the gold standard. Yet a poll early this year, conducted for the Institute for Research of Public policy, found that just 28.6 per cent of Canadians supported those celebrations, far below the 47.1 per cent who would have favoured a celebration of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Harper pointedly declined to do anything to mark last year’s 30th birthday of the Charter, Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau’s signature achievement.)

Milestones coming up soon might prove easier to sell than the 1812 border clashes. Next year marks a century since the First World War erupted and 75 years since the start of the Second World War. In 2015, it will have been 200 years since Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth and 50 since the adoption of Canada’s Maple Leaf flag. Heritage officials are looking at ways to work all these anniversaries, and more, into the ramp-up to the big splash in 2017 when Canada turns 150.

For Conservatives already preoccupied with history, the potential for sustained spinning of patriotic history is obvious. Ads will air. Exhibitions will tour. Through it all, if the Tories are still in power after 2015’s fixed election date, their critics will no doubt go on pouncing on signs of a distorted portrayal of Canadian history right up to the sesquicentennial.

And at the country’s biggest museum, a new walk through Canada’s past, sprawling over 4,000 sq. m on two levels, will open (if all goes on schedule) in time for the 2017 festivities. “It will be the single largest pan-Canadian narrative ever developed,” O’Neill enthuses, casting ahead with a gusto so lacking when he tours the current version. Presumably, he’ll be able to guide visitors around the revamped hall without pausing to point out the history it fails to teach.




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How Stephen Harper is rewriting history

  1. At about the midpoint of the walk, which starts with the Vikings
    arriving and ends in a 1960s-vintage airport lounge, O’Neill steps into
    one of his favourite installations—an intact early 20th-century
    Ukrainian Catholic church, painstakingly relocated to the museum from
    Smoky Lake, Alta. “Look around,” he says. “You will learn virtually
    nothing about Ukrainian Canadians. You will learn nothing about the first
    Canadian internment camps. You will learn nothing about the Ukrainian
    community today.”

    I’m at least 50% Ukrainian, born in Winnipeg almost 60 years ago and raised in Calgary. I was over 40 when I first learned about the Holimodor. I was older than that when I learned about the Canadian WWI internment camps for Ukrainians. I had to take a whizz on a road trip down the Yellowhead highway and, completely by chance, I came across a small monument, surrounded by weeds, that marked the spot of one of these internment camps.

    I live in Europe now and I have learned more Canadian history here, in the excellent war museum in Ypres, or cycling through in the graveyards of Flanders, than I ever did in school or in a Canadian museum.

    I have never been to Ottawa or seen the fabled “Museum of Civilization”. Nor have I seen the new “Museum of Human Rights” in Winnipeg. But if the Ukrainian exhibit there is still next to the washrooms (is Palestine even mentioned?) and the Holocuast exhibit still occupies most of the floor space dedicated to the central theme of Human Rights, I don’t think I’ll bother.

    I have already been to Disneyland. No need to go there again. Or take the kids.

    • thank you for posting about this….the one thing canada excels at (besides hypocrisy) is impression management and it does so by presenting a lily white face to the world behind which lies a massive can of sarcophagidae

  2. I like how Moore refers to Anne of Green Gables as history. Quality leadership from the top.

    • A case could be made for the use of “Anne of Green Gables” as a shorthand for the impact that Lucy Maud Montgomery and her writing had on Canadian culture. I have no idea if that’s what Moore was referring to, but I don’t think I’d use this as the grounds for breaking a slate over his head.

      • Well, I was going to discuss the dangers of comparing historical fiction (which is a great way of dramatizing historical events and people, if not always wholly accurate) and historical research, but shooting off a one liner was more fun. :)

        • And I think your comment was right on the wasted money.

      • A case could be made for that — if you’re completely unfamiliar with the entirety of Moore’s speaking history.

        But I agree, this certainly wouldn’t be the grounds for breaking a slate over his head. Not when we already have his Canadian citizenship stuff.

    • Leadership that makes policy and writes laws as if Ayn Rand’s fictions and the Bible are factual.

  3. I’m no fan of the way Harper’s rewritten much of the current Canadian narrative, but I will give him credit for, at the very least, making Canadian history and the importance of history–from whatever perspective–part of the conversation.

    • We seem to keep repeating our history so what is the point of keeping track of that stupidity? Just look at what we are doing today and bam! You got history staring you in the face.

    • Conservatives in the U.S. have tried to have slavery excluded from their history books. Should they be given credit for, at the very least, making history and the importance of history–from whatever perspective–part of the conversation?
      What a ludicrous comment.

  4. So when is Geddes going to do a piece about the Liberals/Asper’s trying to write their own version of history in the Museum of Human Rights, which underplays the “Liberal” internment camps and the treatment of aboriginal Canadians (residential) schools in favour of being just mostly just another me too Holocaust Museum.

    Government change, curators with change, what will be displayed will change. Pendulums swing back and forth.

    The Museum of Civilization was a bland nothing. In order to whitewash the bad things the mostly Liberal governments have done in our history, they mostly had to whitewash all the good things also.

    The Smokey Lake church was my favorite exhibit also. I grew up a few miles from there, and am ethnically half-Ukrainian, but it tells nothing real about the Ukrainian story in Canada. Nothing about the internment camps. Nothing about the ethnic discrimination they endured. And nothing about how they overcame that and became not just an ethnic curiosity but a vital part of the Canadian mosaic.

    The Museum of Civilization told no stories. It was just an accumulation of images.

    A Museum should be a vibrant controversial place that tells stories. And we will learn about our past by debating the stories. The Liberals really didn’t want Canadians discussing and debating our history, since they are such a big part of it. It means they lose some control of their present narrative.

    A real museum should be controversial. The past/history always is. The Liberals/Canadian Establishment prefer Canadians be ignorant of our history.

    • You had me with “Governments change, curators will change…” but you lost me with your claim that there’s been some nefarious Liberal/Establishment conspiracy to keep Canadians in the dark about their own history.

      • It is not a conspiracy. For the established order in any society, the past and discussing the past is usually inconvenient, because it causes the masses to ask questions, which is almost always unsettling to the established order.

        The established order is happy with one bland uninformative narrative or the past.

        Notice how the Liberals and the mainstream media characterize Harper as trying to rewrite history, rather than what he is actually trying to do, to open up our history for discussion, to reveal that their is more than just the Liberal narrative, and that their are other narratives that have been buried and whitewashed, because you know, history is alway a little controversial.

        • Sure, and there’ll come a time when conservatives and their supporters in the mainstream media will characterize future Liberal governments as trying to rewrite history. The present government seems to want to lionize our time as a colony of Britain and to emphasize the fact that we’re all subjects of the British monarchy. Future Liberal governments will likely take a hard look at that, and it’ll once again be all-new uniforms and livery for the (now Royal) Canadian military.

          • yet they don’t like the Senate, a very British government structure. People always pick and choose, I suppose.

        • I don’t believe that for a minute. Harper’s idea of how to run a country is so far out in left field it’s hard to see where he is going with this country. Why this? Why now? We are all struggling with a way to a sustainable future and our resources are being put into the past, a place none of us can change no matter what colour the wash is on it. History is a story and it’s not one that needs to have money thrown at it in this amount of dollars. Jack Granatstein is one of those back room people that no one has voted for lobbying our government to ensure he has his puffed-up place is history. He certainly has not shown any interest in our future.

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          • “Canada’s doing MUCH better now than we would be doing had the Liberals been in power for the last 6 years.”
            Pure speculation, Rick – unless you’ve found a portal to alternate universes. And speculation that a good many Canadians (me being one) finds laughable.

          • KeithBram and Stephen Bryce, Wrong Canada is doing much better by very real concrete verifiable measures. Job numbers, well being, even environment (last link), all show a uptread over the last several years. You on the other hand,choose to ignore facts and evidence to fit your motives.

            http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/07/22/andrew-coyne-fewer-people-sit-below-the-poverty-line-now-than-ever-before-why-are-we-not-talking-about-it/

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadians-have-better-life-than-most-new-comparison-finds/article12184284/

            http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/06/29/conrad-black-canadas-day-canadas-era/

            http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/05/08/canada-carbon-emissions/

          • As I pointed out in my previous comment, because it is impossible to know what the Liberals (or NDP) might have done, saying we are better off than we would have been under a different government is an unprovable statement.

            I don’t have time at present to read all your links (have to head to work) but I did look at the first one and I note that the trend you credit the Tories with began under the Libs (“…a near-halving of the “poverty rate” … in the space of 15 years…”). I’ve noted the CPC likes to take credit for things the Libs set in motion (see e.g. the banking system Harper & Flaherty had planned to remodel on the US before theirs collapsed); this appears to be another.

            Re your uptrend in jobs – what year are you comparing against? You have to compare against the Liberal years not the bottom of the recession (which is what the CPC typically does).

            Anyway, gotta run…

          • Sure, so that’s why our economy’s WORSE than it was under Chretien and Martin (as clowny as they were)? That’s why Harper’s run up RECORD DEFICITS and embarassed us the world over?

          • “So far out in left field???” I believe you mean, so far out in right field.

        • If Harper is altering the facts, then he is re-writing history.

    • While I agree history should be controversial you’re dreaming if you think you’ll get that from this CPC govt. As JGs has pointed out they already took a pass on the charter for partisan reasons. As for you assertion that bad stuff that litters our history – such as residential schools – is a strictly liberal product, rather than a Canadian one….it deserves to dismissed with contempt. Replacing one kind of partisanship with another is a pointless waste of time.

      • The reason there was no celebration for the Charter is because nobody would care. Who in their right mind would celebrate the passing of a bill? Only Liberals who think they made Canada what it is today because of some stupid piece of paper.

        Funny how that Charter doesn’t apply to First Nations, eh? I guess Liberals always thought that “regular” Canadians deserved more rights than those on FNs. But no, that couldn’t be mentioned in Canada’s history, could it?

        • We celebrate the promulgation of the BNA Act every year on July 1st, the date it was promulgfated throughout the Dominion in 1867.

        • I suspect that Americans take the passing of the Constitution rather seriously.

        • Congrats on keeping up your usual high standards for idiocy. Did you read the article? 47.1% of Canadians don’t care like you I suppose. Why can you never learn the difference between opinion and fact? I’d be just fascinated to have you explain how FNs have no charter rights, and why it’s ok for a PM to disparage parts of the constitution he doesn’t like.

    • Perhaps you should consider reading the entire article.

    • “A Museum should be a vibrant controversial place that tells stories.
      And we will learn about our past by debating the stories. The Liberals
      really didn’t want Canadians discussing and debating our history, since
      they are such a big part of it. It means they lose some control of
      their present narrative.”

      I think you have that wrong. The Conservatives are much more bent on controlling the narrative than Liberals were. Almost all their actions since January 2006 have been geared at protecting themselves by hiding what they are doing (and they aren’t very good at it, thank the gods) and if they can’t hide it, blaming it on the Liberals whether the charge is justified or not.

      • Almost every atrocity that happened in Canada happened under the Liberals. The Liberals used First Nations as medical testing grounds. The Liberals interned the Japanse, and the Ukrainians. The Liberals were responsible for the Residential Schools.

        Of course they don’t tell you that in schools, because the Liberals would like us all to forget the terrible things they’ve done.

        • The pre-war Liberals were more like Conservatives today. The things you mention were done by a party devoid of social conscience. The Liberals changed after World War II. So did the Conservatives. Just because the current party has the same label does not mean it shares the same ideas…except for you, obviously.

          By the way, I am not nor will I ever be a Liberal supporter.

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          • I assume from your response that you have no wish to actually look at the facts or inform yourself in any way. However, it is true that pre-war Liberal policies were much more in line with current Conservative policies than current Liberal policies. I suggest you inform yourself before spouting nonsense, or perhaps you actually think spouting nonsense is a valid contribution to this discussion.

            And I did say that I wasn’t a Liberal supporter. So your conclusion is void of sense.

          • It’s called historical reality, why is that a problem for right-wingers?

        • The Cons were responsible for robogate, continuing prisoner abuse, tearing up the Kelowana Accords, trying to claw back same-sex marriage, trying to re-open the abortion debate, and kidnapping/assaulting a thousand peaceful protestors in Toronto.

          Care to try again?

        • Liberals interned Ukrainians? I think you’ll find that Robert Borden, leader of the Conservative party, was Canada’s PM during the First World War. As for the Japanese Canadians, they were interned during Mackenzie King’s watch, true. Do you think that the Conservatives opposed or enthusiastically supported this measure? As for residential schools…they existed for well over a century and through several changes in government.

          • Just hang around. Rick’ll fill us in on how enthusiastically non liberals stood up and opposed all this liberal tyranny. You’ll have to forgive him for not progressing beyond the the conservative primer on all things bad c/o the LPC.

        • It’s odd how you can’t seem to blame the church for its share in the residential school outrage. Guess all those bishops and pastors and nuns were all card carrying Liberals. Honestly, any improvement in representing our history would be wasted on the willfully ignorant, such as yourself .

    • Um, what about the Conservatives whitewashing this even more?

  5. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the future of this country and this planet than I will ever be about the history. People need to take a look at the book, “End game, the problem with civilization” by Derrick Jensen and then think about spending millions on something we can change only through more useless waste of our resources. There is no benefit to trying to change the past or even to keep looking at it. With your eyes going backwards you’re going to hit your head on the wall you’ve been ignoring. And for those that think we learn from our mistakes, I’d challenge you on that one too. You can take quotes from history like this one:
    When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty.’
    Theodore Roosevelt

    What has changed? We keep doing the exact same things and we don’t seem to improve the situation we are leaving behind. Are we really all that crazy? Is the only legacy the illegitimate Harper government going to have be one that is also illegitimate?

    • If one has no clue where they came from, they likely have no clue where they are going.

      • There is absolutely no proof of that. The only place is the present. If we could all live there all the time we would be shocked at the power to change what we don’t want contained there.

        • You would also be shocked at how ignorant of how the world actually works if you don’t study history.

          • Case in point, right-wingers who are convinced there’s no such thing as evolution, racism, theocratic dictatorship, or equal rights.

          • Gag! :)

      • This coming from a guy whose party is full of creationists, climate change deniers, and bigot throwbacks.

    • Good luck learning on how to improve anything without reviewing a bit of history first. But I’m sure you’ve got it all figured out already, don’t you?

      • I already know plenty of history, from more credible sources than a party of propagandists.

  6. If the man doesn’t agree with the direction being taken he should do what anyone of us in the private sector would do….Quit. Whining to the media is not very becoming.
    What a long laborious column which really is a waste of time trying to read and understand. We certainly are in the dog days’ of summer.

    • You may want to re-read… he isn’t whining. (At least, he’s not whining about what you think he’s whining about.)

      • Typo in the fifth word.. you added an extra “re” in there.

    • God, he’s onside with the government – you see enemies where they don’t exist.

    • Um…if you’re referring to O’Neill here, you seem to have missed the entire point…as usual. His whinging suggests, in fact, that he is one of the water boys for Harper’s team, with whom I assume you agree.

    • Ah yes, who needs that “freedom of speech” thing, anyway?

      • It works both ways.

        • Oh the witty reparté of hollinm.

  7. History in general and a Museum of History in particular is not meant to be portrayed through a series of Pavilions At Folkfest or Exhibits From The Cultural Grievance Board. Jack Grantastein, himself a Liberal, is dead-on. For over three decades the larger Canadian identity; including its obvious British inheritance, and the great events of Canada from ‘Colony to Nationhood’ were literally purged from schools, universities, and the public square. In the latter case, thank God for Cliff Chadderton of the War Amps and the Royal Canadian Legion, and indeed former Liberal Defence Minister Barney Danson whose tremendous efforts helped to place at least Canada’s extensive experience in war before us. These conflicts, amongst many other definitive events, helped to shape Canada’s actual identity and not some ideological portrayal of ‘civilisation’ based on the sentiments of a committee at the United Nations. There is a difference between ‘Imperial Nostalgia’ and showing respect for the reality of our country’s establishment within the British Empire and the influence and role Canada played in that era and the institutions and way of life that emerged from it. Our ‘history’ isn’t being re-written through this new museum, it’s being restored to its rightful place.

    • Fine, but can we stop acting as if we are still a colony?

  8. Strange about the emphasis on war over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians in a way use the latter daily as a safeguard against government encroachment, while the last time Canada was in peril from a military standpoint was decades before there was a Canada.

    • Isn’t the imposition of the War Measures Act actually more revealing of Trudeau’s and the Liberal’s real intentions about rights and liberals? Ditto, Japanese internment camps. Ditto using reserves as medical testing grounds. Do not actions speak louder than fancy words on a piece of paper?

      • no because the Charter became later and likely would have played a role in preventing those things if it could have been enforced.

        Maybe for the Charter’s next anniversary we can compromise and we will settle for teaching this guy about placing events using a sequence called “chronological” ( a fascinating tool many historians use in which things that happen earlier in “time” are considered to have occurred before events which occupy a relatively different place on the scale which professionals call “later”.)

      • No. Liberals prefer to be judged by their intentions

        • I’m a small-l liberal who prefers to be judged by my actions.

        • Conservatives judge everyone by their own (conservative) intentions. “If you don’t do what I want you to do you are evil.”

          • Of course, the old eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil conservative meme.

      • I’m sorry, when did Justin Trudeau take any position whatsoever on the War Measures Act?

        And what about Harper being responsible for the G20 debacle?

        • Show me the exact spot where anybody ever said Justin Trudeau took a position on the War Measures Act

      • “The War Measures Act” and “Internment” – Simply naming two things is not an actual argument for why the Liberals are bad.

        Would you like to explain why the massive Conservative support for internment and the widespread calls for internment by British Columbians are also the fault of King’s Liberals? Would you like to shed light on how that is relevant to current Liberal ideology?

        • Exactly a point I tried to make earlier. By inference there must have been lots of principled conservatives who must have surely stood on their hind legs and condemned these perfidious Liberals…AT THAT TIME!
          Standing by, remaining silent, or even calling for harsher responses is hardly an ethical record to be proud of – regardless of what the liberals are historically guilty of.
          I have also heard that the RCMP and the security forces of the day opposed – to their great credit – the popular will of BCers on the need for internment. I can’t say the same about conservatives of that time in general.

    • The Charter does not actually protect us from governments, but rather opens the door to all manner of government imposed discriminations.

  9. Although I don’t find myself supporting one end of the spectrum or the other on this debate, I sure am happy there’s a debate. Historians frothing at the mouth to advance their interpretations of history is a good thing.

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    • Do tell what the “real” history of Canada is.

    • …as opposed to suiting your take on ‘real’ history and your ideology which, you would have us believe, are the correct ones.

    • Maybe because historians know what they’re talking about. Just a wacky idea.

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    • Yes, heaven forbid we get a glimpse of reality, instead of being blissfully convinced we’re gods.

    • Yes, like the media and special interest groups (whatever you mean by that) are going to represent history accurately and without bias? haha, that’s funny and quite a ridiculous notion.

      However, pointing out the mistakes and unpleasantness is critical if a museum is to have any value. If we do not learn from the unpleasantness and mistakes we are bound to repeat them.

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    • This comment was deleted.

      • Hitler was National Socialist, which is slightly misleading as a name because he put the nation and corporations ahead of individuals. He was the very definition of “right-winger” because of that.

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          • So that’s why Hitler’s policies have never been embraced by the left, and is universally regarded by ANYONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT as a fascist?

          • Minimum paid vacations, nation wide pension plan, statutory minimum wage, subsidized resorts for workers, investments in making luxury items affordable (the People’s Car, for example: the Volkswagen) have all been embraced by those who describe themselves as ‘the left’.

            And fascism is just one of many subsets of socialism, those political philosophies that emphasize the needs of the collective over those of the individual.

            The various other socialist streams have hastened to try to distinguish themselves from national socialism, post facto, but the same roots are recognizable.

          • By your definition the Spanish civil war amounted to nothing more then the left fighting the left…. I’ll leave you to rationalize that one shall I.

          • Left or right have no meaning here.

            The question is one of socialisms of various kinds.

            In any case trying to compress all political thought in all the various dimensions of its expression onto a single unitary line is just silliness.

            Or are you one of those people who mistakenly thinks Franco to have been fascist? He was a general, probably the best the Spanish army had at the time, and he co-opted and destroyed the local fascist party to stop it from gaining influence.

          • You are appear to be a fabulist. History may well contentious, but you can’t just squeeze it into whatever bizarre shape that most resembles your favorite political bias. Besides which you offer not a shred of evidence for what amounts to no more than unsupported assertion. Assertions made without evidence can dismissed without evidence.

          • Some notes:

            First: There’s no “Werhrmacht Republic”. Werhrmacht means “military” in German. You’re thinking of the Weimar Republic.

            Second: The politicos which supported Hitler were famously Conservative extremists. The most notable right-wing opponent of Hitler was Chancellor Hindenburg. Although right-wing, he won his last Presidential election against Hitler because every extant Left wing and Centrist party threw their support behind Hindenburg as the only feasible challenger to Hitler’s campaign.

            Third: The Weimar Republic’s parliament, the Reichstag, was a pluralistic system of government which often operated on a coalition system, and frequently was lead by social democrats.

            The left-wing Social Democratic Party of Germany (they idolized Karl Marx) was the most influential party during the Republic-era, and was the only party in the Reichstag to vote against the Enabling Act which gave Hitler near-unlimited power. After the Act passed, the Nazis immediately began rounding up SDP members.

      • What ever Marx envisioned he did not account for Stalin. I am not sure if Stalin was a psychopath, born that way and so cannot be fixed, or a sociopath, like most of us at birth, innately nice, but wrecked by his abusive father. Lenin found Stalin useful like Stephen Harper uses PeePee. As a thug. As Lenin was dying he realized just how dangerous Stalin was. But Stalin stopped Lenin’s attempt to have someone other than Stalin take over. So the problem of Marx was that he did account for psychopaths. Conservatism has the same issue. Liberalism on the other hand repels psychopaths for many of the same reasons it repels the fear obsessed thinking of those in the conservative base. Ref. “Thinking, Fast and Slow”

        • A Stalin, or Mao, or Kim, or Pol Pot, or Ceaușescu, is an inevitability in a political system that rewards corruption with enormous power.

          I don’t think Lord Acton’s famous dictum, that power corrupts, is actually true.

          Instead, the prevalence of corruption at high levels is an indication that power attracts the corruptible like a corpse attracts flies.

          • No. While most of us are nice a few are heartless. When the heartless are empowered corruption festers.

            “For though a man should be a complete unbeliever in the being of gods; if he also has a native uprightness of temper, such persons will detest evil in men; their repugnance to wrong disinclines them to commit wrongful acts; they shun the unrighteous and are drawn to the upright.”

            — Plato, acknowledging that atheists can lead an honest life, in Against the Faith, by Jim Herrick

            “A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.”

            — Aristotle (ca. 384-322 BCE) Greek philosopher, in 2000 Years of Disbelief, James Haught, ed.

      • Hitler was a facist, if you knew a thing about history.

        How many socialists disband unions, are pro-war, are strongly religious, and want to wipe out minorities? NONE, in my experience.

      • “Soon after joining the German Worker’s Party, Adolf Hitler suggested that they change their name to the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Not because he was embracing socialism, but because he remembered the passion of the socialist groups in Vienna, and he thought that they could tap into that.”. That’s a quote from a book I was reading. I wrote it down and forgot the reference – sorry.

        Hitler’s political philosophy was that there should be a ruling elite because he began his political career shortly after the fall of the Kaiser who was a solid leader in his view. He had no love for socialists or ‘liberals’. He believed in a strong central leader and sold his views as ‘law and order’ (and blamed the Jews for lawlessness.)

  13. “Queen’s University history professor Ian McKay in a widely noted 2011 lecture, provocatively titled, “The Empire Fights Back: Militarism, Imperial Nostalgia, and the Right-Wing Reconceptualization of Canada.””

    … that title really said it all.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. I’m afraid it’s too late for you.

  14. Patriotism and militarism: two hallmarks of fascism.

    • Add Harper’s commitments to his Church to turn us all into Born Again Christians, quietly, slowly but assuredly, after some personal crisis without tax funded safety nets in the way of Harper’s missionary work and you get christofascism. Pot plus jail plus misery is good for Born Again Christians.

  15. Excellent article. The only thing I wish had been included is Jack Granatstein’s (Moore & Harper’s “ideal historian” ) background. Granatstein pushes for more Military & “war” history, so it’s relevant to know that he was in the army for a few years after High School, then “received a graduation diploma from Le College militaire royal de Saint-Jean in 1959, his BA from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in 1961,” and is the author of a book called ” Who Killed The Canadian Military?,” In addition, he is also on the Royal Military College Board of Governors and is “Chair of the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century. ” Granatstein strongly supported Canada being involved in the Iraq War, disdains multiculturalism (good guy for Cdn History, eh??), & is politically more & more to the Right (no surprise). In other words, he’s not some objective academic historian, he’s one of Steve’s boys. “He served as the head of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa
    from 1998 to 2001 and was a driving force behind the building of the
    museum’s new home that opened in 2005. He currently sits on the Advisory
    Council and is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.” This tells us a lot more about where Steve et al are headed with their re-writing of Cdn history. They have never grown out of their cowboys & indians, let’s play war stage of their boyhoods.

    • So the War Museum wasn’t enough for them.

    • So Jean Chretien appointed him as the head of the Canadian War Museum, but somehow he ends up being “Steve’s boy”? How on earth do you make that logical leap?

      • At the time he was appointed by Chretien, he was a Liberal. In the years since, he has moved further & further to the Right & is now a Conservative.

        • Do you have a single, small little tiny piece of evidence to back up your statement? Or are you just making things up?

          • Pot & kettle syndrome :-)

  16. One must recall a historical fact. One of the very first things Hitler did was to rewrite history so it would foster military glory.

    • Congratulations on further validation of Godwin’s Law. In any case, I’m not sure that you’re on solid ground here. The Conservatives would argue that Canada’s military history has systematically been downplayed over the years in favour of politically-trendy social history themes (hey, what do you know? That’s one of the major themes of the article…) I’m suspicious of anybody seeking to re-write history to further their agenda. The Nazi reference seems to be calculated merely to cast aspersions on one side.

    • Let it forever be known that anybody who remembers Canada’s military history must be a friggin’ Nazi. Excellent analysis there, “Gord”.

      • Didn’t you invoke Godwin’s Law then delete your comment in a thread just earlier in these comments? Hypocritical coward you are

  17. This comment was deleted.

    • Wow, your critical insight and trenchant observations are simply breathtaking in their vacuous stupidity.

      I feel so edified.

      • What an elegant way to call someone a nitwit. Bravo!

      • Lol…Better out than in.

  18. language creates reality

  19. The history of great achievements, big events, and important people and the history of ordinary Canadians living out their everyday lives in a particular social and cultural context are not mutually exclusive. It’s not a binary choice in which one supplants the other. Both are valid and important.

    Having visited the Museum of Civilization, I was fascinated and engaged by the very installations O’Neill casually disparages and dismisses. If they are going to be supplanted by displays celebrating the “bigger stuff”, they deserve to be preserved and displayed somewhere else, perhaps in their own Canadian Museum of Cultural & Social History, which could be a sibling of the War Museum.

  20. How many years have almost all of our museums been passing off total fiction as “history”. They feed us complete bunk like the crap about the all-Canadian super plane the Avro Arrow? The museums tell and retell politically motivated lies when it isn’t all that difficult to find the facts. The reality is the Arrow was made by British-owned Avro Canada and the program was cancelled for reasons of economy [nearly five times the price of a Voodoo] and performance [only about two-thirds the range of a Voodoo] It is no surprise that Diefenbaker’s Cabinet made the sensible decision and bought Voodoos instead of Arrows.
    How about the stuff about how Canadian airmen serving in Bomber Command during WWII had committed some kind of crime against humanity? Pure fiction!
    Not one penny of our tax dollars should have ever gone to repeating political propaganda regardless of how many lieberals love the lies. Those government-funded liars in the museums should all be fired. The sooner the better.

    • …who in any Canadian museum said that Canadian airmen committed a crime against humanity? Name me a person. Give me an actual name, please, and tell me what they said.

      • It was in the Canadian War Museum about six years ago and the controversy was covered on TV. Who wrote the text I do not know but it was probably covered in the Senate investigation of the matter. Here is the offensive text but please do not try to “translate” it because it is written in English and that is my first language:

        “Mass bomber raids against Germany resulted in vast destruction and heavy loss of life. The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested. Bomber Command’s aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead, and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions in German war production until late in the war.”

        There is no such thing as liberal history or conservative history. There is only history that is consistent with all of the facts or fiction that is masquerading as history. Much of what is in our musuems is the latter and that has to change no matter which party is in power.

        • “There is no such thing as liberal history or conservative history. There is only history that is consistent with all of the facts or fiction that is masquerading as history”

          The idea of “objective history” has been thoroughly discredited. Every history is the construction of a human, and thus every history is biased. The word “fiction” simply refers to something being “shaped or formed”, which is what all history projects are. The point of peer review is to weed out as much of our bias as possible and to ensure that all arguments are based on thorough logic.

        • Sorry…where does it say that Canadian airmen “committed crimes against humanity” in that passage? I missed that part.

          By the way, I *do* know the people responsible for it, and you’ve never met a more soldier friendly group of guys than the historians at the Canadian War Museum.

        • What it did not mention is that over a quarter million German troops had to be dedicated to the air defense role, not to mention the thousands of 88mm anti-air and anti-tank guns not available for places like the eastern front.

          The implication that the enormous effort was of little effect is the most offensive aspect.

          • I agree it’s narrow…but it’s a panel in a museum. It’s necessary to keep such things brief. And not one sentence was untrue. It did result in vast destruction and heavy loss of life. It is bitterly contested. BC did aim to crush civilian morale. One sentence (“only small reductions in German war production until late the war”) is debatable depending on what you take to be “late in the war.” I would have put it in positive form, “resulted in major reductions in German war production in the last year of the war” or something, and I would have mentioned the diversion of huge resources to air defense. The figure of 600,000 dead is a bit on the high side of most estimates, although maybe not if you include military dead in the total.

            I never understood what the fuss was about.

    • Of course there is going to be a large initial investment up front when you’re creating an industry, Dief was thinking short term plain and simple. If a country like Sweden can make their own jets and other defense related items why can’t Canada? Oh that’s right, it’s because we didn’t invest in it and sold our sovereignty to the Americans.

      Not even going to go into full detail on the performance of the jet since the full potential was never realized because they never tested any with the superior Iroquois engines.

  21. They should dedicate a display to the MacMartin Diaries and their significance to First Nations treaty obligations.

    • Hey Russell. Where did you go? You went on about how you have studied climate science for decades and when I questioned your knowledge of dendro you disappeared like a greenpeacer in China. Perhaps your knowledge only extends to Think Progress and 350dotOrg talking points?

      • You must be talking about some other thread. Sometimes when it doesn’t seem like a discussion is going to be productive I just ignore messages. I’ve gotten sucked into far too many time sinks to bother to read every reply every random person online posts to me. I might not have read your response. You’re not that important to me, whoever you are. Sorry if that hurts your ego little buddy.

        • Actually Russell it was a 8 post exchange of ideas. You were bragging about your decades long knowledge of climate science. When I challenged you, with specifics, on your assertion you disappeared. I’m left with the fact that you can only spew talking points and have no idea about the actual science. I have a low tolerance for bs artists Russell, especially those that hold science in such low regard.

          • I don’t know what thread you’re talking about. Tracking me down here to post a bunch of ad hominem rants at me is a little weird. I have no idea why you’d expect a random person on the internet to answer your specific questions about climate science. I’m quite certain I’ve never claimed to be a climate scientist or to be able to answer any question that anyone could throw at me. I’ve formed my opinion of the science by following it for a long time and turning to trusted, credible sources. I personally like NASA, but then I was sort of a space geek as a kid so that’s that I guess.
            http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

            This is totally irrelevant to this thread. I came here because I follow a lot of news about Canadian politics through some CBC radio programs that are carried by my NPR affiliate and then got interested in Canadian history and politics around First Nations and energy issues that effect both our countries. I guess the mere mention of the MacMartin diaries really strikes a nerve with rightwingers up there, eh?

            Well, in any event I often save myself the trouble of responding to people who attack me with unhinged ad hominem rants, which I shall do henceforth with you. Have a beer and calm down. It’s just some internet comment threads. No one owes you a drawn out, time consuming debate. If you’re interested in climate science you should read what climate scientists say, not stalk strangers around the internet demanding answers. Weird, dude. Seriously weird.

          • You are an American anti fossil fuel/CAGW activist posting your particular brand of bs on various bulletin boards. When your are challenged on your “facts” and understanding of the subject you cut and run. That’s fine but you don’t get to post your bs unchallenged. You came here because it offered a forum for your left wing anti Canada rants. Go hang out with your pals at Think Progress and leave Canada alone. We don’t need your kind interfering with our political process. I have a suspicion, however, we will cross paths again.

    • Why would you want that, if not to exacerbate divisions within Canadian society?

      • Because those diaries support the FNs case that their understanding of the treaty process wasn’t honored as they had intended. The taken up and surrender clause was added without their consent. Perhaps you meant that kind of exacerbation and division?

        • Pandering to the exorbitant demands of a loud special interest group that is already extensively privileged can only create problems, not only for Canada as a whole but for those members of that special interest group who consume inordinate amounts of time and energy chasing ‘economic rent’ instead of becoming self sufficient and productive.

          • What utter nonesense . A society or individual can’t simply ignore the historical record just because it may be divisive. The diary in question is said to make a case for at the very least a major misunderstanding of what the original inhabitants meant when they signed treaty; something they have been arguing since the treaties were signed. Now there is an actual document to add to the oral record.

      • I would want to do that so that people are aware of the promises made and treaty obligations. If that exacerbates divisions within Canadian society I suppose that would only be because some people want to break promises and abandon obligations. I don’t see how that makes the case for marginalizing a document that is of fundamental importance for understanding Canadian history as it is relevant to current events.

        • What we, as Canadians, do not need are left wing American agitators such as you Russell meddling in our business. We have had quite enough of your kind funded by American trust funds. It’s all documented by Vivian Krause, who, unlike you, is Canadian.

          http://fairquestions.typepad.com/rethink_campaigns/

          • You have quite the penchant for ad hominem attacks.

          • I have a low tolerance level for American left wing activists trying to influence any Canadian discussion.

  22. The Soviets were also quite adept at rewriting their own history.

  23. Don’t read MacLeans, not appealing in the least, I get my news – real news – elsewhere. This is fiction.

  24. I don’t have a problem with Canadian’s seeing our war past. To Many think Canadian history started after Lester Pearson conceptualized peace keeping forces. But Canada Had to step up in some major wars and it has been painful. Afghanistan was not a peace keeping mission although I am proud that our soldiers assisted in re-building the country

    • We haven’t done any rebuilding. That was all war propaganda. The dams. The schools. All BS. Basically we tore the country to pieces and left a mess while spending billions of tax dollars that could have been used here.

      • Tax $$ better spent here OR THERE !

  25. Leave to the Reform… er the Conservative.. er Harper party to kill the most successful and well known Canadian museum to turn into a house of partisanship propaganda.

  26. It seems that O’Niell’s biggest issue is that there are not enough negative things that might succeed in exacerbating divisions within Canadian society, and too many positive things that might promote a Canadian unity and Canadian identity,

  27. We may be better served with a museum dedicated to our futures.

  28. Harper won’t celebrate the “Supreme Law of the Land” viz, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? So much for him believing in law and order. Oh wait, only the law and order that HE likes. Charlatan.

  29. It should be remembered that there are two principal versions of the history of Canada. One version is from Ontario, and focuses on British history, including the skirmishes from the war of 1812 that took place here, away from the main theatres, the final few month of the foundation of Canada in the 1860s, the Ontario role in the Red River, and battles of the first world war. Another version focuses on resistance to the British and Tory authorities, including the various rebellions, the Lafontaine-Baldwin responsible government, resistance to conscription, and the great strikes at E.B. Eddy, Asbestos, etc. What past “official” Canadian history consisted of was mostly the events that are important in both versions of history. That excludes most military events apart from the battle of the Plains of Abraham, but includes many events of joint rebellion and joint nationbuilding.

    The other anniversary that was pointedly ignored is the 175th anniversary of the simultaneous rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada, the first of many truly joint French-English projects, and one that gave us the foundation of Canada’s democracy. As Lord Durham put it, it was a fight between “a petty, corrupt, insolent Tory clique and the mass of the people”. Is politics the reason why it’s excluded from history? Is blindness to other points of views the reason why the Red River Provisional Government gets called a “rebellion” rather than founding fathers? We have to be sensitive to the Orangist view of history, since British protestants are an important part of our collective heritage, but passing that version off as the “official history” of the country from which we should all take our identity is just being divisive. It may not be malicious, people raised within that culture take their inspiration from that version of history, but it is still wrong.

    By the way, at least one of my ancestors was an officer in the War of 1812, but even he didn’t think it left much of a legacy for Canada, compared to the later rebellions and governments.

    • The two rebellions of 1837 were independent and viewed differently by the two groups fomenting them; they’re hardly an example a joint french-english project.

      The Riel rebellions are called that because they were rebellions. In a sense, the various strikes were also rebellions.

      What would be divisive would be to obsess over every internal conflict and over every special interest group with an agenda and a set of claimed grievances.

      • The two rebellions, although distinct, were related and asked for many of the same things. The one in Lower Canada was mostly francophones but a large number of anglophones as well, of Irish and American origin.

        The Northwest Rebellion was a real rebellion, but historically, the view of the Red River provisional government as a rebellion originated with the Orange lodges in Ontario and was not the view of Lower Canada or even London, which viewed it as the legitimate government of the territory. It’s a matter of perspective, and since it was taught that way in Ontario it became a widespread interpretation among anglophones, while Metis, first nations, and francophones stuck to the other interpretation. Which should be the “official” version which unites Canadians?

        The fact is, much of what makes Canada what it is today was hard won against the Crown or the government of the day, be it responsible government, native rights, labour standards, etc. Only lately has there been reform without rebellion. The view of history as the continuity of the British Crown steadfastly resisting special interest groups and bestowing rights is one that I respect, since it is foundational for a segment of the population, but for those who see their history as a long struggle of their people against oppressive governments of the Crown, it amounts to rejecting what makes them Canadian. Do we choose one vision and reject the other, find inspiration in the areas of overlap between the two, or accept that different versions inform different experiences?

        • Standing against Canada is supposedly what makes them Canadian???

          I hardly think so.

          • That’s exactly the difference in perspective. To some it’s the rebels or strikers standing against Canada. To others it’s the clique that controlled government at the time that was standing against Canada. Were those demanding responsible government really standing against Canada? That’s one point of view.

          • In 1837 there was no Canada in the first place.

            But the nasty tendency is to try to claim that anyone who is opposed to anything Canadian is somehow being Canadian.

            It’s a sort of post-modernist view that somehow conflict and violence are good things.

          • “In 1837 there was no Canada in the first place.”

            sure there was. look at old maps.

          • the Patriots didn’t “stand against Canada”, they stood FOR Canada, for a free republic of Canadians, BY Canadians. the british institutions that governed Canada aren’t Canada. Canada is its people.

          • Oddly enough, more than one question mark does NOT make something more of a question.
            Learn your grammar, fella.

    • Read “Champlain’s Dream” if you want to learn about the early beginnings of Canada. Fabulous book.

      • The history of the Hudson Bay Company is more relevant to most of Canada.

        Champlain only travelled in eastern Canada, the HBC explored all of the west and most of what is now Quebec and Ontario.

        • First thing I was taught when I was a part-time student worker at the Hudson’s Bay company was to use the term correctly.

          Hudson Bay is the body of water.

          Hudson’s Bay was the commercial company, founded in 1670, a full 66 years AFTER after Champlain ventured to what is now Quebec and the maritime provinces. Their soul purpose was to trade for economic gain for their shareholders.

          Learn your country’s history, sport.

          • The Company of Gentlemen Trading out of Hudson’s Bay. We only recently have dropped the apostrophes. The bay was named for Henry Hudson, thus Hudson’s Bay. I live on Moberly Lake, in older maps from the 19th C it is called Moberly’s Lake

    • “the 175th anniversary of the simultaneous rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada [...] Is politics the reason why it’s excluded from history?”

      yes.

  30. Isn’t it curious that it is always those who never donned a uniform for their country who always want to worship militarism? Certainly the military heroes of the world were the first to condemn war and militarism. It’s the pencil-pushers who want to pretend they are otherwise. Harper is typical of these slimy weasels.

  31. My British ancestors never expelled enough of the French in 1755….they’re still here today.

    • Your British ancestors couldn’t make it in their own country.

  32. I say “Bravo” to Harper and any one else who takes the initiative to promote an appreciation of Canada’s rich history. The mainstream media and academics like to mock any effort to popularize anything in the Canadian narrative that doesn’t reflect their view, while the sad fact is that Canadians are fed a constant diet of Americana. If we as Canadians are to maintain our identity, we need tangible expressions or our achievements and failures in popular form. Unfortunately, our mainstream media have become nothing more than resellers of ‘Americana’. “A people who forget their past are also doomed not to have a future”- Donald Creighton

    • I too love Canadian History , Unfortunately Harper and the Conservatives are destroying Canadian History to promote Conservative lies and propaganda

  33. The First Nations are the “Original Canadians”. How many battles and militaria of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Cree, etc. history will be represented, eh?

    All of the rest of us whether Ukrainian, Chinese, Swedish, Indian, or from the United States are no more than immigrants. We came to escape poverty, religious persecution, pogroms, and to make our fortunes in a new, wide open, promising land shedding blood, sweat, and tears surviving desperate droughts, viscous winters, attacks by other groups to build this fabulous Canada. All of our struggles and heartbreak are an important part of the development of this Nation, our pride and identity as a people.

    When my family moved to this country, I do not remember how many times we passed the concentration camps in the upper Fraser Valley when I asked my stepfather why some dark green buildings were being destroyed along the road. He told me they were concentration camps, I did not learn for whom nor why until I was an adult. Little printed information was available about them and the only reason I learned more was from living and working in the area.

    There is much we have to answer for in our collective history. We did not make the horrendous mistakes but we must acknowledge them and make every effort to educate ourselves, stop hiding the facts so that the horrors are not repeated!

    • Everyone on this continent is a descendant of immigrants. Some families just immigrated earlier than others.

  34. Liars generally rewrite fact to suit their “perceptions”. The Harper government does this on a daily basis with every press release they issue.

  35. This plastic bozo doesn’t write or rewrite anything, he dictates to his office of zoned-out young minions. And you think Scientology is a cult! Lol – harper is a cult.

  36. The majority of Canadians will never visit Ottawa or visit this museum (whatever it’s called), they are far more likely to visit local museums. If this gov’t truly wants to encourage Canadians to learn more about history, a good start would be to restore the funding for community museums which was cut a few years back. A better start would be to increase funding for these institutions. And of yeah, how about also restoring funding for the Parks Canada historical interpreters! I visited Lower Fort Garry while interpreters weren’t available & the visit was certainly diminished by the lack of people who could talk about the site & answer questions.

  37. The war of 1812 really meant nothing to the West which was, at the time, under the control of the Hudson Bay Company. Therefore the hoopla of the media blitz on the subject didn’t really mean very much north and west of Southern Ontario. As a history Grad, and a History teacher, I respect the likes of Granatstein and Bercuson as academics, but they are unashamedly Ontario-centric. This dichotomy was brought home to me when I did my BEd at Acadia. I was hearing about Louis Riel as a traitor to Canada, Where I come from he is a hero and the founding father of Manitoba who could not be a traitor to a country which had no jurisdiction over him. There is much to be reconciled and reviewed. History is not a bunch of nailed down facts, but rather a collection that must be constantly reviewed in light of new knowledge. There simply cannot be a single thread of Official Canadian History

  38. Still wasting our money Harper? That’s OK, just forget about the people who live in poverty in ‘YOUR’ country. Spend $25,000,000 to refurbish our history for Canadians? Why don’t you do something constructive like allowing me to add to her Mother’s Allowance check without taking it off of her government check? That would help she and my son to improve their lifestyles and it would come out of my pocket and not yours. Take care of today’s history and then when the problem is solved today you can look after the past. First things first. If I where doing your job I wouldn’t be able to look in the mirror because of the shame I would feel. You truly are a disgusting group of people in government. I never will trust any of you.

  39. Heritage Canada is not the same as Department of Canadian Heritage. Fact-checking please.

  40. Obviously, O’Neil was the wrong choice for president of the museum. he only wants a museum that talks about anything negative about Canadian history.

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