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History Archive

Responsible government and voting in early Canada

Nellie McClung was an activist and “suffragette”, elected to the Alberta legislature in 1921. This article is about the development of “responsible government” and universal suffrage (the right of all adults to vote) in Canada. The granting of responsible government – where citizens rather than autocrats made decisions about governance – was a process that

My Eddie Shack story

A few days ago I heard that Eddie Shack died at the age of 83. I was never a fan of the Leafs, but it was hard not to be a fan of Eddie Shack. About a decade after Shack had retired (in 1975) I was involved up to my wahzoo in minor hockey. I

History of the Guitar

The evolution of the modern guitar is a complicated one. Stringed instruments with some of the features of modern guitars have been used for about 4,000 years, as can be attested by archaeological evidence from digs in Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere where organized human civilizations have been found. The guitar didn’t really start to

Local 15 year old, Kaitlyn Leis pilots No. 9 engine of the Waterloo Central Railway

Kaitlyn Leis from Mathew McCarthy on Vimeo. I was digging around in the Waterloo Region Record blogs today and stumbled upon this nice video of Kaitlyn Leis and the steam powered locomotive of the Waterloo Central Railway that runs from Waterloo to St. Jacobs. The video is from Mathew McCarthy’s blog A Reason for Being.

‘Degenerate’ Art Valued at Over $1 Billion found in Munich Apartment

Adolph Hitler ordered the seizure of thousands of pieces of art during World War II. More than 1500 paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Chagall (among many others) were found in the Munich apartment. These had been seized during the war by the Nazis and deemed “degenerate”. They were thought to have been destroyed many

Waterloo Post Office Building Still Has Historic Significance

The old Waterloo Post Office building was built in 1912 and has undergone many renovations over the years. The original corner clock was removed in 1956, because it had fallen into disrepair. A modern clock was added in 1969, but itwas replaced in 1987 with one based on the original drawings and specifications. This restored

Bobby Orr turns 65 this week

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Royal wedding should be a non-story for Canadians

We’ve recently been bombarded with news of the upcoming British royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, and there is suddenly renewed interest in the British monarchy. The CBC, for example ran a phone-in last Sunday in which people were asked “Will the royal wedding renew interest in the monarchy in Canada?” (or something

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In

How Conestogo Got Its Name – Part 2

In Part 1 called How Conestogo Got Its Name – Part 1 I offered some background into the relationship between Conestogo Ontario and an area in southeastern Pennsylvania where the name originated. Actually it is not correct to suggest that Conestogo Ontario was named after the town called Conestoga in Lancaster Pennsylvania. As I mentioned

First History of Canada on Sale

A 400-year-old book described as “the first written history of Canada”, and containing one of the earliest and most treasured maps of the country is scheduled to be sold this month at a British auction of rare volumes and historic manuscripts. Marc Lescarbot spent two years in New France shortly after the first settlement in

Tecumseh fights for a pan-Indian homeland

Growing up in Canada only 10 miles or so from the American border, I’ve always had an ambivalent feeling about the anti-American sentiment expressed by many Canadians. My initial experience of the U.S. was Buffalo, New York, a decaying industrial city just over the border. Buffalo had grubby old factory buildings, real movie theatres, powerful

How Conestogo Ontario Got Its Name – Part 1

The name Conestogo (or “Conestoga”) of our village in southwestern Ontario derives from a location in Lancaster County Pennsylvania located in the southeastern part of that state. This name was transplanted from Pennsylvania to the Waterloo region of Ontario because many of the original settlers of the Waterloo area came from Lancaster Country. Conestoga in

Steve Martin Banjo Man on CBC Radio

If you’ve followed the career of comedian Steve Martin you’ll remember some of those early stints where he would fire off a mean riff on his banjo. Well SM has been touring his banjo talents over the summer. The gig mentioned below (in Montreal) is long over, but he recently appeared on the CBC Radio

How The Iroquois Confederacy Got to the Grand River

I am currently doing some research into the history of the Grand River land grants made to the Six Nations after the U.S. Revolutionary War. The village of Conestogo sits on these lands – not to mention many of the cities and towns up and down the Grand River Valley: Kitchener, Cambridge, Brantford, Elora, Fergus,

1491 Author Discusses Life in the Americas Before Columbus

In this interview author Charles C. Mann discusses some of the “myths” about North American pre-history that he exposes in his recent book, 1491: New Revelations of the Native Americans Before Columbus. – 1491: Interview w/ Charles C. Mann Video Some of the more important assumptions challenged by the “revelations” in the book are

The Conestogo Iron Bridge

The “Iron Bridge” is a single lane bridge spanning the Conestogo River about a half kilometer up stream from where the Conestogo meets the Grand River. I’m sure there is a history of this bridge somewhere, but I wasn’t able to find it. The Township of Woolwich has been pretty non-committal about keeping it in

The Final Battle of the U.S. Indian Wars

One of the most celebrated encounters in the late 1800s between the U.S. Cavalry and a band of Indians was also the last. So typical of the “Indian Wars” of the late 1800s, this one was between the army of the U.S. authorities charged with managing the settlement of the west, and a band of

The Primitive Indian Myth

One of the enduring myths about life in the Americas before it was “discovered” by Europeans is that the entire “new world” was sparsely populated by nomadic tribes of simple-minded hunters and gatherers. This myth holds that these people had no permanent attachment to any specific piece of land, they did not live in permanent

Why the History of Canadian Natives Matters

My primary objective in the first few posts in this series is to explore how Canadian natives changed from being autonomous self-governing people to becoming subjects of the British crown? This change in status is extremely important. By the time of Confederation (1867) natives – at least in Eastern Canada – were no longer free