Tag Archives: commemoration

Slavery and Sources

Teaching history from a global perspective calls for decisions about what to focus on, what to minimize, and what to ignore.  Slavery in the Atlantic world definitely falls into the “focus on” category.  Its history is integral to the history of capitalism and European colonialism, and for understanding the nature of early democracy and social justice movements.  It is also integral to understanding contemporary debate about commemoration, for understanding wealth inequality in the Americas, and ideas about race.  It’s no wonder that slavery is an important topic in LABR 2P93, the global labour history course I am teaching for Brock University’s Department of Labour Studies.


When lecturing about slavery in the Atlantic world I raise the issue of source material. Much of the primary source material for this history was created by individuals and institutions involved in the slave trade, and in maintaining slaves as an oppressed underclass of workers. There is an abundance of anti-slavery source material too, including the publications and records of the transnational abolitionist movement that emerged in the eighteenth-century. My point of emphasis is that records from both of these perspectives offer insight into the past, and must be read critically.


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On board Canada 150 with YMCA Canada

Back in the Fall of 2016 I worked on a project for YMCA Canada.  I researched the topic of “railway YMCAs” in support of YMCA Canada’s “LocalMOTION” program commemorating Canada 150.  Railway Ys were YMCA buildings located in remote railway towns and near large railway yards.  They served railway workers and the local community from the late nineteenth-century to the late-twentieth-century.


  • YMCA Canada, “The Canadian Railway YMCA Story,” 5:09min YouTube video, published 9 June 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDsIyyW1iJY

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Canadian Red Cross History in 120 Objects

The Canadian Red Cross has launched a digital commemoration of its 120 years of history.  I helped out on this project for a few weeks, and I am happy to say that it looks great.


  • The Canadian Red Cross, 120 Years of the Canadian Red Cross, Website, launched June 2016: http://www.redcross.ca/history/home#/?&date=2010.


The digital design is attractive, easily manipulated and read.  The primary aim is to engage visitors, and the virtual exhibit works well, in my naturally biased opinion, as a public history site.  It uses images of items to draw visitors in, and places these items on a timeline going back to 1885, when the Red Cross symbol was first employed in Canada.


And yes, that was during the suppression of the 1885 Rebellion in what became Saskatchewan.  Learn a little about that from the site here and here.  Red Cross history is pretty fascinating.  There were several stories that grabbed my attention back in the Spring of this year, as well as engrossing historical themes.  Most of all, though, I think I was just consistently impressed by the work of the Red Cross as an institution, and the efforts of its personnel and volunteers.  The new website certainly offers plenty of evidence that the Red Cross has an important place in Canadian history, as it has internationally since the movement began in the 1860s.


Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 9.21.13 PM

Above is a screenshot of a portion of an info-graphic about the Canadian Red Cross, found here: http://www.redcross.ca/about-us/about-the-canadian-red-cross/what-we-do-infographic.



Nathan Smith, “Canadian Red Cross History in 120 Objects,” 29 June 2016, HIS241.com, http://www.his241.com/?p=325



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