150 Years of Canadian Business History Conference

8 09 2017



On Tuesday, I will be presenting a paper at the 150 Years of Canadian Business History Conference at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.  I have upload both the program/brochure for the whole event plus a draft of my own paper, “Business and Multiculturalism: a Possible Master Narrative for Canadian Business History

Abstract: Researchers from across the social sciences, and in several management disciplines, are now increasingly interested in the role of business in promoting the peaceful coexistence of ethnocultural groups. Today, Canada is an outstanding example of harmonious ethnic diversity. Business played an important role in the emergence of this successful society. The newly renascent field of Canadian business history is in need of theoretically informed master narratives if it is to continue to grow. This paper proposes that the study of the role of business in the emergence of multicultural Canada be one of the organizing themes for the field of Canadian business history.

I would like to thank the organizers for their very hard work in arranging this conference. A major thanks to the donors who made it possible to cover the costs of presenters.

Remembrance Day 2009 Resources

8 11 2009

War Memorial in Ottawa

The first Remembrance Day-related resource I am showcasing is Library and Archives Canada’s excellent website on the First World War. This website contains links to a host of online resources, including the database of Canadian Expeditionary Force enlistment records. This database allows people to look at the actual attestation papers signed by men at recruiting papers. (The surname search box makes it easy to look for ancestors). Each attestation paper gives the birthdate, address, next of kin, etc., of the man.

In my course on Canadian history since 1867, I ask the students to look at this attestation paper before coming to the lecture on the Great War. The paper is for a young guy from Winnipeg named Alexander Henderson Cuthbert who singed up 9 Nov 1917. I selected this paper from the database because Mr Cuthbert was pretty representative of the type of man who enlisted. He was a young, unmarried, city-dwelling, working-class immigrant from the British Isles.  I point out that farmers, francophones, married men, and people whose families had lived in Canada for many generations were massively under-represented in the Canadian military in WWI.

Many students bring their laptops to class, so I ask the students to plug Cuthbert’s address into Google Maps to get a sense of the type of neighbourhood he was from. (The Google Maps satellite view shows that his house was next to a railway, which drives home my point about social class and military recruiting).  The map also allows me to talk a little bit out the multicultural make-up of Winnipeg circa 1914 and the impact of the war on (non-British) immigrants.

The Cuthbert attestation paper usually generates a good discussion in class about why men join the military and the ways in which Old World national hatreds are imported into the western hemisphere. I usually share a personal anecdote about  going to high school in the Toronto area in the early 1990s, when the break-up of Yugoslavia set kids from different ethnic groups at odds.  I mention how some Anglo-Saxon Canadians at the time condemned the second-generation immigrants from the former Yugoslavia for bringing “Old World squabbles” into Canada.  I also point out that during the First World War, it was British immigrants who were having difficulty in severing their emotional connection to the homelands. The irony of this is not lost on my students!   As I remind my students,  in the First World War, the group most truly loyal to Canada were the French Canadians.

Flawed Globe and Mail article on the far right in Europe

9 06 2009

Doug Saunders has published a deeply flawed article on the alleged rise of the far-right in Europe. The danger is that the Globe’s Canadian readers  will accept Saunder’s flawed interpretation as accurate.

I normally like Doug Saunders’s work, but his article on the recent EU elections is a travesty of the facts. I will speak about the UK situation, which I know best.
First point: the BNP, which is clearly a racist and fascist party, saw its share of the popular vote fall in this election from the 2004 election.  Saunders wrongly suggests that the BNP is rising in popularity. Moreover, the BNP’s share of the vote is small.

Second point:  Saunders suggests that UKIP is, like the BNP, a racist party and that the jump in support for UKIP shows that Britons are becoming more racist. This is not the case. UKIP is a hard-right party like the old Canadian Reform Party. It believes in tax cuts, deregulation, is against the minimum wage, and it wants to pull out of the EU. UKIP admires the free market economy of the USA. It is not, however, a racist party, although it is opposed to the open immigration policies that have allowed many Polish and other Eastern European workers to come into the UK.

Third: European countries can’t really be compared to Canada, which is very much an immigration country. Britain is a densely populated island that has been inhabited by the same ethnic groups for many centuries. It isn’t Canada, which is sparsely populated and proud of its cultural diversity. One of the things I like the most about Canada is the sheer tolerance of Canadians. Canadian multiculturalism is a great success, something of which I am very proud.