Maps! These visual, information-rich records show us where we are and where we’ve been. What would we do without them? Nathan Ng, a self-described “non-professional historian” certainly understands their importance. His past efforts have made the Goad’s Atlas, a detailed Victorian-era fire insurance map of Toronto, available to the internet masses at Goad’s Atlas – Online!. His most recent project, Historical Maps of Toronto, continues the work of bringing Toronto’s cartographic history to the web, with digitized maps from the 1858 Boulton Atlas of Toronto, the Alpheus Todd map of 1834 and many, many more. We picked Nathan’s brain about his love for maps, the Historical Maps of Toronto project, and his thoughts on the internet’s role in history education. Read More
After the sweeping Hazardous Products Act of 1971 was authored by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party, it fell to the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (CCA) to educate and inform the public as to its finer points, including the creation of the new Hazardous Product Symbols: four icons that were to appear on the labels of items which contained corrosive, flammable, poisonous, or explosive materials. And who better to educate young people about these au courant symbols than a pair of inquisitive little green aliens named Binkley and Doinkel, and their lone Earth companion, a talking dog named Sniffer!
The upcoming documentary, A Desert Between Us and Them: Raiders, Traitors and Refugees in the War of 1812, tells the story of the American raids on an undefended Upper Canadian peninsula (now Southwestern Ontario) during the War of 1812. Rather than give a straight military account, A Desert Between Us and Them focuses on the civilians caught in the war – people who were faced with food shortages, constant pressure to change allegiance, thousands of refugees, and the eventual abandonment of Southwestern Ontario by the British army. War was not remote. It came up to their doorsteps, into their homes and changed their lives forever.
June 15 kicked off the city of Toronto’s War of 1812 celebrations, with an abundance of free and lively events around town in conjunction with the Luminato Festival. The Canadian Encyclopedia attended a handful of events, one of which was a unique art installation called The Encampment at Fort York.
“The Canadian Encyclopedia is an overwhelming accomplishment. We can learn so much from you.” – Gong Li, president of the Chinese Encyclopedia.
If the Chinese did not compile the first encyclopedia, as they did by some accounts, they did create the biggest. The 18th-century Siku Quanshu, a at is 2.3 million pages long, consists of over 36,000 volumes, required 300 editors and more than 4000 scribes, and has been described as “probably the most ambitious editorial enterprise in the history of the world.” Our Canadian Encyclopedia is so much younger (and smaller!) to it was a great honour for us to host a delegation from the current, 93-volume Chinese Encyclopedia.
I did not meet Pat until she began coming regularly to the Music Division at the then National Library of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada) in the late 1970s. After the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (EMC) had been put to bed, work on the second edition began almost immediately and Pat’s efficiency and enthusiasm, not to mention her “eagle eye” for typos or inconsistencies, were great assets to the existing team.
Last year the literary folks at CBC introduced the Bookie Awards, a people’s choice forum for the year’s best-known Canadian and (as of this year) international books. This year it returns: cast your vote and peruse the categories. Place another few books on your reading list.
As a teacher of literature, I don’t spend time in university classrooms picking favourites or moderating a “did you like this book?” discussion. This is not to say there’s no place for readerly reaction in the classroom: Read More
If a news reporter tests your knowledge on the street, asking you to identify an old, fluffy-haired man, you’ll want to be ready. “Why, that’s Sir John A. Macdonald,” you’ll say with an easy smile. Want to knock that reporter off his feet? Check out these resources and build up an arsenal of knowledge on the Old Chieftan in time for his 197th birthday on January 11!
The Canadian Encyclopedia
Founded in 1985, the Canadian Encyclopedia is a free, bilingual resource on all things Canadian. It’s also our mother site! Check out its articles on:
Sir John A. Macdonald
Fathers of Confederation
The Conservative Party
The Pacific Scandal
Election 1891: A Question of Loyalty
Book Review: John A. Macdonald’s Tragic Life
The Canadian Pacific Railway
If there’s one refrain I hear over and over from my fellow teachers, it is that schools are in regular (and often desperate) need of resources. In a world of online and often unreliable resources, The Canadian Encyclopedia manages to provide a solid, well researched alternative for teachers and students of Canadiana.
But for World Teachers’ Day, I am not going to gift teachers with a diatribe on resources. As I said, it’s a regular refrain that is part of our everyday, and hardly a gift. Instead, I will use this blog post to gift them with five ideas on how to use The Canadian Encyclopedia in their classroom. Free resource and free ideas? That’s something to put a bow on.
I often remind students, at the beginning of a course, of Socrates’ statement he could not teach anybody anything; he could only make his students think. This reminder follows on the heels of my grading scheme chart; it’s intended to remind them they are responsible for the marks they earn or fail to earn, but more widely, for their own learning. This occasionally comes as a surprise to first-year students and takes some adjustment, sort of like their realization they don’t have to yell “Miss, I’d like to use the bathroom!” before departing for said destination. Or their realization my name is not “Miss.”
Literacy is key to building a successful society: to building democracy and ensuring informed political discourse, and to creating an educated populace that continues to learn and build its skills. While literacy rates in Canada are high, not every Canadian can read adequately enough to accurately navigate insurance forms and medical prescriptions, let alone essays or novels.
Even in today’s media saturated environment it’s hard to find a great list of recommendations for what you should read next, whether you’re a longtime CanLit fan or you’re just getting to know Canadian literature. Written by T.F. Rigelhof, the Globe and Mail’s stalwart contributing reviewer and a seasoned, fine critic of today’s work, this book is a collection of short commentaries on contemporary novels, arranged thematically, that the author chose because they were not only “good” but compulsively readable, books that gave him pleasure, like favourite songs or delicious food. This is a book to whet the appetite. - Susanne Marshall