Thursday, September 05, 2013

On Canadian History

Kasia (my almost-10 yr old): "I finished my report for Canadian history."

Me: "That was fast. What did you write on?"

Kasia: "How I feel about Canadian history. " Hands me an 8.5X11 sheet of paper covered on both sides with a continuous row of "Z"s.

Point taken.

But the thing is, Canadian history is actually really interesting. Fascinating piece on Albertan Two-gun Cohen this morning on CBC morning a case in point. After listening to his story, interviewer asked, "How come we never heard of this guy before? It's a fantastic story!" And the journalist essentially shrugged on air and said, "it's how Canadians teach history: they leave out all the interesting characters".

Drives me crazy.

My students never found Canadian history boring, but then the story of confederation is one of bribery, booze, and backstabbing when I tell it. And McKenzie King! Who could find King boring? How cool is it to find out that Canadian foreign policy was dictated by his dead mother (via a psychic)? "Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription" is one of the great bafflegab statements of all time. And compare King's handling of the Bing scandal with say, Watergate. And what other world leader stole stones out of Buckingham palace for their private estates as King did with Kingsmere?

I'm telling you, Canadian history is engrossing if you actually know any of it.

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