The sesquicentennial of Confederation is the perfect time to reconnect with the country — and each other.
Confederation’s sesquicentennial is the perfect time to reconnect with our fellow Canadians.
Events with extended family were seminal to my 1960s childhood. One of the reliable rituals after a meal was the gathering of women in the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes. My sisters and I were always welcome to join the caucus and dutifully took up fresh tea towels while waiting for the plates and cutlery to emerge from the basin of suds. I never considered the chore a hardship because the conversation that accompanied the clatter of dishes was better than any book. The topics varied — birth and death, celebrations and injustices, economic hardship or a kindness offered from an old friend. Sometimes, we were told to take care with an heirloom platter or teacup, prompting a rich story about its “old country” origin and the genealogy of its keepers.
The men were doing the same thing in the front room. People had conversations back then, not just at family gatherings but with random individuals: the tailor, the water meter reader, or the family who ran the corner store. All the children on my block went to the same school and played hide-and-seek together. Not only did we know each other, we knew about each other, anchoring the neighbourhood with a greater sense of community.
The irony of modern communication is that we can be connected twenty-four hours a day from any two points on the globe, yet we are less connected at a personal level than ever before. New planets are being discovered, but we don’t know the names of our neighbours. Dinner conversation, once a time to share values, wisdom, and aspirations, is a rare occasion, too often replaced with fast food and a text or a tweet.
As technology changes our appetites for storytelling, how do we keep the ledger of our lives?
The mandate of Canada’s History Society is to share the human story and bring our past to life.
That’s why we help to gather the national history community together: teachers, popular historians, scholars, archivists, curators, and community groups. It’s why future historians are encouraged and celebrated, why we bring great writers and big questions to our pages, and why we have recently refreshed our website to offer greater mobile access to history.
It is also why we are inviting readers and researchers to explore our new online digital index, coming this June. At CanadasHistory. ca/Archive, they can easily find past issues of Canada’s History magazine, The Beaver, and Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids.
Our history can be found in Snapshots of Canada, a new travelling exhibit developed in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of History, and through emerging collaborative partnerships with front-facing history organizations in Quebec.
But preserving and sharing our history shouldn’t fall only on the shoulders of our history makers. It can begin with each of us.
As we mark Canada’s sesquicentennial, communicating our story — and listening to the stories of others — is one of the best gifts we can give to our country, our community, our family, and ourselves.
People participate in a Canadian citizenship ceremony during Canada Day celebrations in London, Ontario, in 2016.