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
Double Take, a new exhibition from the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, challenges preconceived notions about 59 Canadians, capturing them in unexpected poses and situations, some real and others imagined. There’s a portrait of the usually suave Leonard Cohen looking like a streetwise Al Pacino and another of Adrienne Clarkson looking luscious, wrapped in an exotic scarf. The painting, Out for Fun (Dione Quintuplets), by Andrew Loomis imagines a scene that likely never took place: the Dionne quintuplets singing and cooking wieners around a campfire, the picture of a happy, carefree childhood that’s worlds away from their actual exploited childhood. The various identities of Sir John A. Macdonald give insight into the many sides of Canada’s first prime minister: Macdonald is presented as a cartoon, a political saviour, and also an object of affection, his picture tucked away in a locket.
This week, de Havilland’s Mosquito buzzes once more, Molson makes us question our national identity, and we consider whether Leonard Cohen looks good as Al Pacino.
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, when US-led troops entered the city of Baghdad with the goal of toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime and destroying the country’s weapons of mass destruction. The invasion was relatively brief: Baghdad fell weeks later, and on May 1 then-U.S. president George W. Bush declared that the mission was accomplished. The weapons of mass destruction were not found, but the goal of the invasion shifted to stabilizing Iraq and solidifying it as a Western ally. The invasion and occupation claimed the lives of 4,487 U.S. combat troops, 179 UK servicemen and women, between 97,461 and 106,348 Iraqi civilians and displaced an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis. The invasion cost the U.S. between from $802 billion to $3 trillion (figures from the BBC).
This week, discover the pint-sized piano prodigy from B.C., the underground railroad on the Pacific frontier and some rare photos of Louis Riel.
Canada’s folk hero Stompin’ Tom Connors has died at age 77. His songs of Canadian life, from Sudbury nickel miners to P.E.I. potato farmers and the joys of a good snowmobile, paint a picture of his great love for Canada. In his last letter to fans, Stompin’ Tom credits Canada’s beauty and inspiration as the source “driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.” Rest in Peace, Tom. [StompinTom]
“Jack”, the new biopic on the late Jack Layton, tells the story of romance and politics behind the charismatic NDP leader. It premiers on Sunday, March 10 on CBC.
Get ready for a space jam! For the first time ever, music has been made from space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson sang live together – Hadfield from the International Space Station and Robertson and a youth choir from Toronto. Their song, I.S.S. (‘Is Somebody Singing)’, written by Hadfield and Robertson, premiered on Friday morning. Watch it above. It’s pretty catchy! [CBC]
The first national anthology of poetry by African Canadians will be released in celebration of Black History Month this February. Published by Frontenac House, The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry features the works of over 90 poets across Canada.
The poets are a diverse bunch in terms of form, history and geography. From big cities to small towns, the west coast to the Maritimes and beyond Canada’s borders to countries of origin like Somalia, Nigeria, Jamaica and Kenya, these poets bring a diverse voice and a unique history that weaves together the struggles and victories that have formed the African-Canadian experience.
On February 4, the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing Canadian pennies, ending 155 years of penny production in Canada. The rising cost of producing pennies relative to its value was the main reason for its phaseout. With the penny gone, the country is estimated to save $11 million annually. This week’s Canada Soup bids farewell with a roundup of news and opinion on the diminutive, soon-to-be-extinct one-cent piece.
February 2 is Groundhog Day, a celebration where those driven mad by the long winter pin their hopes for an early spring on the Marmota monax, known as the groundhog, woodchuck and, in certain circles, a whistle-pig. On February 2, the humble rodent is imbued with the powers of meteorological prognostication, divining an early spring or a prolonged winter.
According to legend, the groundhog emerges from its burrow at noon on February 2 to look for its shadow. If the day is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow, become alarmed, and return to its burrow to sleep, thus prolonging winter for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy and the groundhog does not see its shadow, it will leave its burrow, ushering in an early spring.
Winter. The most Canadian of seasons. Like sunshine in Florida and fog in London, winter defines Canada. From November to February, it blankets the country in snow, ice, wind, rain, grey skies and blistering cold, turning the landscape into a winter wonderland or an icy hell. To help with your winter hibernation, we’ve rounded up a handful of Canadian winter songs that reflect the mood of the season: reflective, melancholy and restless, but also joyful and bursting with frenetic energy. So, settle into a warm corner and listen to the many faces of winter, as interpreted by some of the country’s most beloved musicians. Happy hibernating!