Planning 150 / Planifier le 150e

25 06 2013

That’s the title of a conference that will take place tomorrow at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. Participants will discuss how the 150th anniversary of Confederation will be celebrated in 2017. (The centennial of Confederation in 1867 was marked with civic projects across the country and a world’s fair in Montreal).

Museum of Civilization

I’ve pasted the program below. The curious thing is that while a few of the participants are historians, none of them are experts on Confederation! (Chad Gaffield is a social historian, as is Margaret Conrad).  The 1960s saw a flurry of publications about Confederation.[1] Many of these authors are now either deceased or retired. However, Peter Waite is still an active scholar, although his research interests have moved to more recent periods of Canadian history. I certainly hope that the organizers of tomorrow’s conference at least invited Professor Waite.

Ged Martin is the author of several important works on Confederation. He is very much alive and well and has just published a new biography of Sir John A. Macdonald. I simply cannot understand why the organizers of this conference did not invite him.

His omission from the program is astonishing, as is that of Christopher Moore. (I don’t know whether they invited Moore). I’ve published on Confederation and can assure you I wasn’t contacted.

[1] See: W.L. Morton, The Critical Years: the Union of British North America, 1857-1873 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1964); Donald Creighton, The Road to Confederation: the Emergence of Canada, 1863-1867 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1964); P.B. Waite, The Life and Times of Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962).

100, rue Laurier Street, Gatineau (Québec)




9:00 am– 9:15 am

Opening remarks: Jack Jedwab, Executive Director, Association for Canadian Studies


9:15 am– 10:30 am

The Road to Confederation Begins in PEI (1)

  • Chair: Professor Chedly Belkhodja, Université de Moncton
  • Penny Walsh McGuire, Executive Director, PEI 2014,
  • Dr. David Keenlyside, Executive Director, Prince Edward Island Museum & Heritage Foundation
  • Professor Sharon Myers, University of Prince Edward Island
  • Professor Emerita Margaret Conrad, University of New Brunswick

10:30 am – 10h45 am


10:45 am – 12h15

Marking Canada’s 150th  (2)

  • Chair: Scott Wallace, Canadian Heritage
  • Dr. Colin Jackson, Chair of the Board of Directors, ImagiNation 150
  • Professor Marc-André Ethier, Université de Montréal & Professor David Lefrancois, Université du Québec en Outaouais
  • William B. Chambers, Vice-President, Brand, Communications and Corporate Affairs, CBC (CBC/ViaRail “2017 Starts Now” initiative)
  • Guy Matte, Executive Director, The Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue

12:15 – 1:15 pm


  • Dr. Chad Gaffield, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

1:15 pm – 2:30 pm

 Canadian History, The Study of Canada and Canadian Identities Since the  Symons Report (3)

  • Chair: Stuart Murray, President and CEO, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
  • Dr. Hector Mackenzie, Senior Historian, International Affairs Canada
  • Professor Barry Ferguson, University of Manitoba
  • Randy Boswell, Carleton University / Post Media News
  • Professor Jocelyn Létourneau, Université Laval

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Canada’s History Museum (4)

  • Mark O’Neill, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of Civilization

3:30 pm  – 3:45 pm 


3:45 pm– 5:00 pm

Future Directions and the Challenges of Communicating the History

of Canada (5)

  • Chair: Professor Dominique Clément, University of Alberta
  • Anthony Wilson Smith, President, The Historica Dominion Institute
  • Deborah Morrison, President and CEO, Canada’s History
  • Jack Jedwab, Executive Director, Association for Canadian Studies
  • Professor Penney Clark, University of British Columbia / Director , The History Education Network


5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – Reception    Marking 40 years of the ACS



5 responses

25 06 2013
Christopher Moore

Nope, wasn’t invited (since you ask). But it seems pretty clear this meeting is for people who organize stuff about history, more than for people who do history (plus some who do both) Of the two categories, I’m okay being in the latter more than the former.

26 06 2013

People who organize heritage events should be in dialogue with working historians. It’s dangerous if they aren’t. For one thing, you can end up with heritage organization disseminating an outdated or otherwise inaccurate version of history. Moreover, engaging with the heritage community can keep historians, especially academics, grounded. I’m not saying that the projects that emerge out of this conference will disseminate any inaccurate information, but the lack of dialogue here is disconcerting.

26 06 2013
Christopher Moore

Well, yes, you are right, Andrew. But you know how boring these kinds of meeting are…..

25 06 2013

I would like to see historians of all ages being considered worthwhile guests. (Peter Waite, for what it’s worth, is very elderly, having retired decades ago – he’d retired before I started university at Dal! – and has been very ill for some time.) There is a strong tendency (from the CBC to the CMC) to think of only the usual suspects, based on recognizability (and “looks-like-an-historian” seniority) rather than newer and more diverse talent and perspectives. Reputation and past publications are good, but not everything.

Plus, Christopher Moore is right – this looks more like people who speak about how their organizations promote history. That’s why the Canadian Studies Network was created, for example, from the ACS.

26 06 2013

Hi Claire, There are younger scholars they could have invited. Brad Miller, who is just about to take up his first tenure-track appointment at UBC hasn’t published on Confederation per se, but his research is on Canadian legal history in the Confederation era. Certainly he should have been invited.

I repeat what I said in my reply to CM, working historians and the heritage community ought to be in continuous dialogue.

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