The Contested Past

The Contested Past: Reading Canada's History - Selections from the Canadian Historical Review

Edited by Marlene Shore
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442680906
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  • Book Info
    The Contested Past
    Book Description:

    This collection of selected excerpts focuses on The Canadian Historical Review?s contribution to the study of Canadian history from the journal's founding in 1920 to the present.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8090-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-62)

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, despite pronouncements of its death, history is still alive and at the centre of popular and academic interest – and contention.¹ The past couple of decades have witnessed historyʼs ever-growing presence in international developments and its marketability in popular culture.² Obsession with the past is apparent throughout the Western world: from family genealogies and antique industries and roadshows, through history theme parks, museums, and monumental art, to retrofashion, television, and movies. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporationʼs sixteen-episodeCanada: A Peopleʼs Histotyis a local contribution to this phenomenon. Meanwhile, works of historical fiction by...

  6. PART ONE: NATION AND DIVERSITY, 1920–1939

    • COMMENTARY
      (pp. 65-70)

      TheCanadian Historical Review (CHR)was born in a period of nationa consciousness within English and French Canada. Throughout the Western world, remembrance also occupied popular and academic attention. The aftermath of the Great War had stimulated the desire to commemorate, but preoccupation with history and memory stretched back to the late nineteenth century, when the experience of rapid industrial and technological change, along with political upheaval, fostered concern about the erasure of the past.¹ By the 1920s, history was competing with other social and behavioural sciences to explain the impact of the past, and of memory, on individuals as...

    • THE PURPOSE OF THE PAST
      (pp. 71-92)
      W.S. WALLACE, GEORGE WRONG, GUSTAVE LANCTÔT, E.R. ADAIR, GUSTAVE LANCTÔT, ISABEL FOULCHÉ-DELBOSC, CHARLES BEARD and GEORGE M. WRONG

      There have recently come from the press two books which will provide much matter for thought among those who are interested in present-day tendencies in historical study, especially in Canada and the United States. The first of these isThe Art of History(London, 1926), by Professor J.B. Black, formerly of the department of history in Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, and now professor of modern history in the University of Sheffield; and the second isThe Art of Thought(London, 1926), by that dean of English political thinkers, Professor Graham Wallas, of London University.

      Professor Black’s book is a study...

    • DEFINING THE CANADIAN NATION
      (pp. 93-117)
      GEORGE M. WRONG, W.S. WALLACE, ARCHIBALD MacMECHAN, W.P.M. KENNEDY, F.H. UNDERHILL, R.G. TROTTER, D.G. CREIGHTON, FRANCES MOREHOUSE and W.S. MacNUTT

      The defence of the British Empire is a perplexing problem. Attempts to solve it provoked the great revolution from which came the republic of the United States. This revolution was even more momentous than the French Revolution. Not only did it determine the form of the political institutions of the greater part of the two continents of America, but it was itself also in large measure the cause of the French Revolution. Royalist France was aflame with eagerness for republican principles, as applied in America, to the hurt of a hated rival in Europe. These principles, however, would not remain...

    • THE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
      (pp. 118-126)
      A.R.M. LOWER, W.A. MACKINTOSH and ROE FRANK G.

      There is no element in the present Dominion of greater significance than the so-called Canadian Shield or Laurentian Barrier. This vast region of lakes, rocks, and forest, which occupies all but a few thousand square miles of eastern Canada and which interposes the most formidable of obstacles between the usable regions of the East and the fertile areas of the West, has determined the direction and rate of the country’s growth in the past, and doubtless will continue to be a decisive factor in its expansion in the future.

      As one comes up the St. Lawrence, he observes the mountainous...

    • NATIVE-EUROPEAN CONTACT
      (pp. 127-132)
      W.A. MACKINTOSH and ALFRED GOLDSWORTHY BAILEY

      This is the book in Canadian history which most needed writing, and Mr. Innis has written it well. For years Canadian historians have given us glib generalizations on the importance of the fur trade, have speculated about Peter Pond’s map, or have written vaguely and ignorantly of the ‘romance’ of the fur trade. It has remained for Mr. Innis to write, after a long period of laborious and patient research, an authoritative history of the fur trade which will remain for many years the standard work on this subject. It is to be hoped that the fur trade and this...

  7. PART TWO: WAR, CENTRALIZATION, AND REACTION, 1940–1965

    • COMMENTARY
      (pp. 135-139)

      As contributions to theCHRmake clear, the crises of the late 1930s, culminating in the Second World War, deeply affected historical practice. These cataclysmic events raised numerous questions, ranging from practical concerns about how scholars would be able to do their research during war to philosophical considerations regarding the political positions that they should adopt. Many writers advocated reasserting the moral role of history rather than emphasizing specialized research; others expressed concern that wartime engagement would pose threats to intellectual liberty.

      Once the war began, G.P. de T. Glazebrook, a member of theCHR’s editorial committee, argued that the...

    • SOCIETY AND WAR
      (pp. 140-151)
      A.R.M. LOWER, H.A. INNIS, A.E. PRINCE and G.P. de T. GLAZEBROOK

      … The social scientist, both as teacher and writer, like everyone else will be affected by the issue of the present war, – it therefore behooves him to try and discover how. While no one can make a blue-print of the future, there probably will be fairly general agreement about some of the aspects it is likely to wear. Some measure of agreement may also be found among social scientists with regard to the nature of their calling and the way in which it is affected by the society in which they practise it.

      It is commonly said that we...

    • REDEFINING THE NATION
      (pp. 152-167)
      D.G. CREIGHTON, D.C. MASTERS, W.L. MORTON and MARGARET PRANG

      John Alexander Macdonald was born on January 11, 1815, and died on June 6, 1891. Of the seventy-six years of his long life, well over half – forty-seven in all – were passed amid the agitations of Canadian politics. He was elected to parliament in 1844, when he was not yet thirty; he became a minister of the Crown in 1847, when he had just turned thirty-two. For over ten years under the system of the dual premiership which obtained in the old Province of Canada, he was one of the two principal leaders of government; and for nineteen years...

    • NATIONALISM CHALLENGED
      (pp. 168-192)
      H. BLAIR NEATBY, JOHN T. SAYWELL, G.F.G. STANLEY, MICHEL BRUNET, FERNAND OUELLET, S.R. MEALING, H.C. PENTLAND and F.W. WATT

      Until the 1890s Quebec was considered a Conservative province; since the 1890s it has been a Liberal stronghold. This transfer of political allegiance has long been recognized as one of the most significant developments in Canadian political history. And yet historians have never satisfactorily explained why the change occurred. Possibly Canadians have been too concerned with national parties and national leaders, and so have concentrated on Laurier’s assumption of national leadership and his policy as a national figure. It is apparently assumed that French Canadian voters deserted the Conservatives in 1896 because Laurier was a French Canadian, although he had...

  8. PART THREE: THE RENEWAL OF DIVERSITY, 1966 TO THE PRESENT

    • COMMENTARY
      (pp. 195-201)

      While English-Canadian politicians were celebrating Canadian nationalism during the Centennial year of 1967, Canadian historians were considering the limitations of nationalism as a historical approach. Ramsay Cookʼs article in the autumn 1967 issue ofInternational Journal, ʻCanadian Centennial Cerebrations,ʼ provided the metaphor that would come to dominate the field for years – ʻlimited identities.ʼ Cook suggested that historians, instead of deploring the lack of a Canadian identity, should try to understand and explain regional, ethnic, and class identities. He also noted, ʻexcept for our overheated nationalist intellectuals Canadians find this situation quite satisfactory.ʼ¹

      Within a couple of years, studies on...

    • LIMITED IDENTITIES
      (pp. 202-223)
      MICHAEL KATZ, DAVID SUTHERLAND, ERNEST R. FORBES, COLE HARRIS, RUSTY BITTERMAN, ROBERT A. MacKINNON and GRAEME WYNN

      On an average day in 1851 about 14,000 people awoke in Hamilton Ontario. Most of them were quite unremarkable and thoroughly ordinary. In fact, there is no reason why the historian reading books, pamphlets, newspapers, or even, diaries and letters should ever encounter more than seven hundred of them. The rest, at least ninety-five out of every hundred, remain invisible. Insofar as most written history is concerned, they might just as well have never lived.

      One consequence of their invisibility has been that history, as it is usually written, represents the record of the articulate and prominent. We assume too...

    • QUEBEC AND NATIONALISM
      (pp. 224-241)
      BRIAN J. YOUNG, JEAN-PIERRE WALLOT, T.J.A. LeGOFF and RONALD RUDIN

      One of Michel Brunet’s recurring themes is what he has called ‘the Great Compromise of Canadian history.’¹ This was the alliance between the French and English political élites, the Roman Catholic church and the English business leaders of Montreal and Toronto. Formed in 1854, the Great Compromise made Confederation possible and was a dominant factor in Canadian political life until the mid twentieth century. In the Brunet thesis French-Canadian political leaders from Cartier to St. Laurent in concert with church and business leaders forced centralization and unification on to a docile French-Canadian populace.²

      If this theme of unanimity, conspiracy, and...

    • CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS
      (pp. 242-266)
      DESMOND MORTON, MICHAEL S. CROSS, CRAIG HERON, BRYAN D. PALMER, KENNETH McNAUGHT and SEAN T. CADIGAN

      Throughout the nineteenth century, Canadian militia was regularly called into service to meet threats to public order. In the absence of effective local or provincial police forces, the militia was frequently the only available support for a magistrate confronted by rioting Orangemen or defiant strikers. Officially created for the more glorious responsibility of national defence, the Canadian militia found a much more regular employment as an auxiliary police.

      In the decades after Confederation, there were many calls on the Canadian troops. In the records of the Department of National Defence there is a list of forty-eight separate occasions between...

    • THE RETURN OF NATIVE HISTORY
      (pp. 267-277)
      BRUCE G. TRIGGER, CORNELIUS JAENEN and BRUCE G. TRIGGER

      Few studies of Canadian history in the first half of the seventeenth century credit sufficiently the decisive role played at that time by the country’s native peoples. The success of European colonizers, traders, and missionaries depended to a greater degree than most of them cared to admit on their ability to understand and accommodate themselves not only to native customs but also to a network of political and economic relationships that was not of their own making. Traders and missionaries often were forced to treat Algonkians and Iroquoians as their equals and sometimes they had to acknowledge that the Indians...

    • GENDER POLITICS
      (pp. 278-288)
      ELIANE LESLAU SILVERMAN and JOY PARR

      When analysing recent scholarship the historian seems doomed to begin by commenting on the growth in a new field which arises with seeming inevitability in response to previous paucity. Immigrants, labourers, farmers – the cast drifts in from the wings and the audience points, ‘There! Look! Did you see that?’ The spectators are recent PhDs and their professors coming to the theatre with different pasts and different expectations. They look about, gossip with colleagues at intermission, and rise from their seats to return to their craft – describing and analysing the characters – some vindicated in old prejudices, others excited...

    • CULTURAL HISTORY
      (pp. 289-306)
      J.M. BLISS, RICHARD ALLEN, A.I. SILVER and KEITH WALDEN

      The quantity and quality of English Canadians’ participation in World War I was largely a function of their militant idealism. That idealism was encouraged and sustained by the nation’s Christian churches, which, like the churches of every belligerent nation, mobilized all of their spiritual resources for battle. No churchmen in Canada worked harder at hammering their ploughshares into swords than ‘the people called Methodists.’ Yet, at the same time as they were preaching a crusade against the German anti-Christ, Methodists in Canada refused to idealize the social order at home. During the war years the Methodist Church’s historic concern for...

  9. PART FOUR: REFLECTIONS

    • COMMENTARY
      (pp. 309-311)

      TheCHRperiodically published retrospective articles, surveys, historiographical essays, and review forums that summarized the Canadian historical profession and its concerns. A number of these captured turning points in the discipline and opened up debate and discussion within the journal about directions for Canadian historical writing. Articles excerpted below provide windows on the state of the field at particular points.

      Given recent denunciations of the historical profession for its lack of attention to political history, George Brown and D.G. Creighton’s article (December 1944) on theCHR’s first twenty-five years is remarkable in its emphatic statement that history is more than...

    • ON CANADIAN HISTORY
      (pp. 312-336)
      GEORGE BROWN, D.G. CREIGHTON, H.J. HANHAM, W.J. ECCLES, HUGH M. GRANT, JOHN ENGLISH, KENNETH C. DEWAR and ALLAN GREER

      It is as well to begin with the proposals which have to do with the scope of theReviewand of Canadian historical studies in general. There were a great many of these proposals. Those who answered the circular letter were generous in their praise of the achievements of Canadian history during the past quarter-century; but, on the other hand, they were also prolific in suggestions for the more intensive cultivation of the field and the progressive enlargement of the boundaries during the quarter-century to come. There was an insistent demand for new approaches, fresh interpretations, novel points of view....

  10. Index
    (pp. 337-353)