April 12, 2004

History comes to the life, and to television. If people will not come to history, then let history come to them.

Inspired by this recent Metafilter discussion about popular knowledge of history, I found these remarkable short films are now online. Most Canadians will probably recognise this long running series. But for those elsewhere, this is an ambitious project to promote historical knowledge and awareness among the general public, at least of recent Canadian history. Of course, the Canadians will claim anything they can as their own, but we do have our own myths and legends. Like all good histories, there is some silly swashbuckling, but also heroism and pride, not to mention tears. New minutes are also being made by students, including this excellent profile of Chief Piapot. The project is not without controversy; unabashedly proud, it only occasionally dwells on the darker side of Canadian history. But it succeeded at least in teaching this Canadian about the exciting origins of our "responsible government". Quicktime versions of the minutes are available at each page.

  • Just one correction - the bit about "responsible government" being a "Canadian idea" is pure nationalist myth. Though it was remarkable for a colony to be granted representational government, Britain had, of course, had a powerful representational (though elitist) parliament from the seventeenth century forward. It's a cute moment, but the historian in me cringes. I also solved my dilemna about wishing to post to metafilter, but to put still my best into monkeyfilter - I just post simultaneously. Sorry for the dual readers, but this seemed the best solution.
  • Hooray for Canadian broadcasting! Sad reason for empahssizing history: An ignorant people may find find historical issues come back to en-Gulf them, as witness recent events.
  • A bit of American history on TV: PBS tonight is showing a biography of Emma Goldman.