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Settling and Unsettling Memories

Settling and Unsettling Memories: Essays in Canadian Public History

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 588
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  • Book Info
    Settling and Unsettling Memories
    Book Description:

    Through high-quality essays touching on the central questions of historical consciousness and collective memory, this collection makes a significant contribution to a rapidly growing field.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9969-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-26)

    In Ottawa in June 1996, Ovide Mercredi, the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, led a procession past the National Gallery of Canada up to Ottawa’s Nepean Point. Sited there is a tall plinth topped by a one-and-a-half-times life-sized bronze statue of Samuel de Champlain, whose commanding and conquering gaze into the west is framed by an astrolabe held in his extended right arm like a cross or a sword. Less noticeable from a distance was a life-sized figure which occupied a small shelf near the base of the plinth. This was a bronze statue of a loinclothed...


    • 1 Commemorating the Woman Warrior of New France: Madeleine de Verchères, 1690s–1920s
      (pp. 29-46)

      Madeleine de Verchères, the child heroine of New France, was a cross-dressing woman warrior. In 1692, she led the defence of her family’s fort at Verchères, near Montreal, against Iroquois attackers. In later accounts of her actions, she drew upon the long history of women warriors in the French and European traditions. Following the path laid out by such women as Joan of Arc, Jeanne Hachette, Catherine de Parthenay, and Philis de la Charce, Madeleine de Verchères tested the boundaries of gender roles in early modern society.¹

      One analysis of the phenomenon of women warriors suggests that there are various...

    • 2 ‘Of Slender Frame and Delicate Appearance’: The Placing of Laura Secord in the Narratives of Canadian Loyalist Tradition
      (pp. 47-66)

      To most present-day Canadians, Laura Secord is best known as the figurehead of a candy company, her image that of a young, attractive woman wearing a low-cut ruffled white gown.¹ Some may even harbour a vague memory from their high-school courses in Canadian history of her walk in 1813 from Queenston to Beaver Dams, to warn British troops of an impending American attack. From the mid-nineteenth century, the story of that walk has been told by a number of Canadian historians of the War of 1812 in Upper Canada. Its military implications in assisting the British during the War of...

    • 3 Re-Membering Dead Heroes: Quebec City’s Monument to Short-Wallick
      (pp. 67-93)

      The story of the erection of Quebec City’s Short-Wallick memorial is a simple one in the telling, but a complex one in the analysis. The monument was prompted by the fact that 122 years ago two soldiers died while striving valiantly to save the lives and property of their fellow citizens. It was the raw material of classical heroism in a Victorian age when the tropes of self-sacrifice underpinned the imagination and ideology of Empire and the conduct expected of its servants. In this way, heroes-eidolons are incorporated into the complex narrative involving national chronicles, monuments, performed commemorations, and the...

    • 4 Dugua vs Champlain: The Construction of Heroes in Atlantic Canada, 1904–2004
      (pp. 94-132)

      During the summers of 1904 and 2004, celebrations were held to mark the first effort to establish a permanent French settlement in North America. In 1604, an expedition of seventy-nine men made its way across the Atlantic, ultimately choosing Île Ste-Croix, an island that sits on the current border between New Brunswick and Maine, to establish itself. As it turned out, this would be the only winter that the Frenchmen would spend on the island. Roughly half would die, and the survivors would move on in the following spring to re-establish their settlement on the other side of the Bay...


    • 5 ‘If I’m Going to Be a Cop, Why Do I Have to Learn Religion and History?’: Schools, Citizenship, and the Teaching of Canadian History
      (pp. 135-187)

      One of public history’s responsibilities is to present specialized historical research in ways that non-specialists find accessible, informative, interesting, and even thought-provoking. It bridges the gap that often exists between history as practised by researchers and people’s general interest in the past, between analytical history and celebratory (or nostalgic) heritage. As a result it is necessarily concerned with the discovery and organization of information, with its presentation, and with pedagogy. Viewed in these terms, the history that is taught in schools is a form of public history. It represents a sustained attempt not only to teach people, in this case...

    • 6 Saving the Nation through National History: The Case of Canada: A People’s History
      (pp. 188-214)

      The advent of public history in recent decades included the expansion of historical productions into film, television, and other related electronic media, enabling authors to reach larger audiences than ever before. Varying forms have been employed, including non-fictional documentaries, historical dramas, and assorted hybrids under the rubric of docudramas, comprising an enormous shift in the ways of presenting historical information to the public. The implications of this shift are being extensively debated in the scholarly literature of communication studies, popular culture, and semiotics, although not generally within the discipline of history. If they are to have an impact on the...

    • 7 Playing with ‘Nitro’: The Racialization of Chinese Canadians in Public Memory
      (pp. 215-234)

      In Canada today, people of colour commonly report having to justify their presence in the country in ways that people of European origins do not. People ask them, ‘Where are you from?’ and are not satisfied by answers such as ‘Kanata’ or ‘Medicine Hat.’ ‘No, where are you really from?’ the questioners persist.¹ Even First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people can have their presence on their traditional territories questioned, sometimes with devastating consequences.² One way of thinking about this has been identified by the Australian literary critic Vijay Mishra, who suggested that people enter into the space of national culture...

    • 8 Democratizing the Past? Canada’s History on the World Wide Web
      (pp. 235-264)

      If the World Wide Web is ‘the most public of media,’¹ how we represent the past on the Internet may very well be ‘the most public of histories.’ In their landmark publication,Digital History,Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig explore the profound implications of a wired world when it comes to the way historians create narrative (and other media) texts. Their study largely revolves around scholarly history, but includes a discussion about history produced for public consumption. They correctly point out how ‘[v]irtually every historical archive, historical museum, historical society, historic house, and historic site – even the very smallest – ha[s]...


    • 9 The Art of Nation-Building: Canadian History Painting, 1880–1914
      (pp. 267-309)
      H.V. NELLES

      This chapter is about something that didn’t happen, but I hope it will help us see more clearly something that did. I also propose to take my title literally, laying stress upon the first noun, Art. In what follows I will look at a brief and largely overlooked moment in Canadian art history when artists – painters mainly – attempted to act as conscious nation-builders by creating a visual vocabulary of the past for an emerging nation. I invite you to suspend disbelief momentarily and entertain with me the possibility that among other things a nation might be made out of paint....

    • 10 Tricky Myths: Settler Pasts and Landscapes of Innocence
      (pp. 310-339)

      ‘What does it mean at the end of the twentieth century to speak … of a Native land?’⁴ James Clifford’s question seems even more important today, as conflicts about land and forms of identity dominate the world stage. However, the problem of the link between national identity, history, and specific topographic spaces has been with settler nations for a long time. Ex-colonial British settler nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States were created as a result of earlier transnational flows of capital and populations, and usually involved destruction of Native peoples⁵ and the appropriation oftheir...

    • 11 Settler Monuments, Indigenous Memory: Dis-Membering and Re-Membering Canadian Art History
      (pp. 340-368)

      A monument is a deposit of the historical possession of power.¹ Although it exhibits the traces of the particular historical ‘will to memory’ that caused its creation, the monument cannot maintain that memory in a stable form. Physical monuments, such as buildings or statues, are always subject to processes of destruction, erosion, and accretion, while the significance attributed to an individual work of art – its ‘monumentalization’ in a figurative sense – alters over time as narratives of history and art history change. The processes of monument making and unmaking and the orchestration of memory and forgetting are most visible in the...

    • 12 Ethnic Minorities and Wartime Injustices: Redress Campaigns and Historical Narratives in Late Twentieth-Century Canada
      (pp. 369-416)

      On 22 September 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney rose in the House of Commons at Ottawa and declared: ‘Nearly half a century ago, in the crisis of wartime, the Government of Canada wrongfully incarcerated, seized the property, and disenfranchised thousands of citizens of Japanese ancestry. We cannot change the past. But we must, as a nation, have the courage to face up to these historical facts.’ With these words, the prime minister began his prepared speech that answered the main demands of the Japanese-Canadian redress movement. He would go on to say that while no amount of money can right...


    • 13 ‘The Normandy of the New World’: Canada Steamship Lines, Antimodernism, and the Selling of Old Quebec
      (pp. 419-453)

      Imagine yourself at home – you’re in Westmount in Montreal and the year is 1936. You’re planning a trip and you’re intrigued by the promise of the ‘Normandy of the New World,’ made by Montreal’s Canada Steamship Lines. CSL will show you Quebec – a land, you can see from the illustrations, of peasant women and weaving, a folk society where the spirits of the past, French explorers and gentlewomen, clerics and Indian chiefs, hover in the air over the grandeur of the Saguenay River’s famous Cape Trinity. Here is an opportunity to see not the Quebec you know but the real...

    • 14 Cashing In on Antiquity: Tourism and the Uses of History in Nova Scotia, 1890–1960
      (pp. 454-490)
      IAN McKAY

      Nova Scotia from 1890 to 1960 provides a rich site of inquiry for scholars interested in the complicated dialectical relationship between tourism and history – tourism/history for short. Tourism/history entails the production and circulation of texts, images, and practices calculated both to boost state and business revenues and to displace critiques of the existing social and political order. This chapter argues that during this period in Nova Scotia, various forms of tourism/history emerged, but that a major shift occurred in the interwar period that intensified the scope, intensity, and significance of the phenomenon.

      The significance of tourism/history in the twenty-first-century province...

    • 15 ‘Leaving the Past Behind’: From Old Quebec to ‘La Belle Province’
      (pp. 491-537)

      On one level, one could argue that tourist advertisers of the government of Quebec were unremarkable: like their counterparts in other regions of Canada they were in the business of promoting their province as a tourist destination, trying to lure foreigners – largely Americans – to visit Quebec.² Like many other Canadian governments, the Quebec state got gradually involved in the tourism business in the late 1910s, at an accelerated pace in the 1920s, and was even more fully committed to the industry with the outbreak of the Depression. Those who have studied the history of tourism both in Quebec and elsewhere...

    • 16 Peace, Order, and Good Banking: Packaging History and Memory in Canadian Commercial Advertising
      (pp. 538-566)

      Many scholars – including contributors to this volume – have reflected upon the relationship between mass media, popular culture, and collective memory. Barbie Zelizer has observed that while media forms from newspapers to television have ‘organized information at a point contemporaneous to the event, so too have they helped organize information at a point somewhat distant from the event.’² For George Lipsitz, the distribution of popular culture through media ‘has played an important role in creating the crisis of memory, but it has also been one of the main vehicles for the expression of loss and the projection of hopes for reconnection...


    • 17 Why Must Halifax Keep Exploding?: English-Canadian Nationalism and the Search for a Usable Disaster
      (pp. 569-590)

      Canadians, it must be said, are a funny lot. Much as they praise Canada’s peaceful and orderly character, they seem to be secretly envious of members of other nation-states whose violent histories provide them with events that make for exciting myths, movies, or adventure stories. The Americans have the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars, the French have the Revolution and Napoleon, and the British have Runnymede and Nelson. The foundational events of the current configuration of the Canadian nation-state, on the other hand, typically involve rich white male lawyers and businessmen sitting around various tables and carving up the map...

    • 18 The Past Is an Imagined Country: Reading Canadian Historical Fiction Written in English
      (pp. 591-614)

      David Lowenthal’s influential work on public historyThe Past Is a Foreign Countrytakes as its title the opening line of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novelThe Go-Between: ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’¹ The line elegantly conveys the principal insight of Lowenthal’s study by capturing in metaphor the perception of difference between past and present shaping contemporary acts of commemoration and preservation. To understand this meaning, it is not necessary to know that the line in the novel refers specifically to the fictional narrator’s feelings of alienation and bewilderment as he looks back on his...

  10. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 615-648)
  11. Contributors List
    (pp. 649-652)