Course Description

“The mind supplies the idea of a nation,” wrote the French philosopher Andre Malraux, “but what gives this idea its sentimental force is a community of dreams.” With vivid language Malraux shows us how a nation is conjured into being by acts of imagination that flesh out and give form to its physical and cultural terrain. A nation is not merely made out of bricks and mortar, governments, bureaucracy, money, and peoples, but is equally the invention of our memories and imaginations. A nation unfolds not only in the building but in the telling.

This course takes as its point of departure the notion that Canada, as we imagine it, the soft nation of illusion, myth, aspiration, nightmare, is as real, maybe more real, than the hard nation that one can locate on maps. It traces the historical development of the "idea of Canada," how it has changed over time, why it has commanded profound emotional legitimacy in the past, and still does so in the present. And it examines the relationship between the production of culture and nationalism. Beginning with the familiar terrain of maps, regions, and inhabitants that give shape to the nation, the course ventures deep into the imagined "community of dreams," dowsing for meaning in literary, visual, and musical representations of Canada as its writers, visual artists, academics, politicians, and everyday people have experienced and narrated it. In doing so, the course crafts a narrative genealogy of Canada and plots the long and interwoven heritage of people and institutions that have engaged imaginatively with the nation.


In this class, 10% of your participation mark will be derived from group work. Each of you has been assigned to a group with which you will collectively take part in a number of in and out-of-class activities--one of which is the building and maintenance of a group Wiki. Your group Wiki should explain, in your own terms, the means by which national narratives are invented, distributed, and how they work to constitute the patriot, hail the citizen, and tell a nation-building story. Groups will also examine the instances in which the nation has been made unstable--i.e. when challenged by competing national narratives i.e. regionalism, French Canadian and First Nations nationalism. In the end, your Wikis will become unique cultural resources that accounts for "the invention of Canada" and the national communities within it.

Drawing on the themes highlighted in lectures, in-class discussion, assigned readings, guest lectures, our class trip, and your own personal interests and experiences, each group must bring to life its own collective vision of Canada as an imagined "community of dreams." In constructing your respective group Wikis, be sure to account for Canada's regional and ethnic diversity. At the very least, one post must be created for every topic covered in the course syllabus (you will be given ample time in class to discuss how these topics might be highlighted in your Wikis). Ensure that the stories, images, notes, articles, etc., that you post are historical. Any and all current affairs posts must be located within their proper historical contexts. Citations must be provided for the contents of all posts (see rules below).

Each Wiki will be part of an ongoing competition for 'Best Class Wiki' which will culminate in an end-of-term 'Wiki-Off.' On Thursday 7 April each group will present their Wikis and the rationale behind them to the rest of the class. Members of the group deemed to have the best Wiki page by a panel of impartial judges will have an extra 1% added to their final mark.


Note that your group Wiki can be viewed by anyone and everyone on the internet. As ambassadors of Saint Mary's University and HIST 3403, your work must be fun, original, and always reflect the academic excellence expected of post secondary students.

1. Each student is responsible for what he/she posts on their Wiki.

2. Everything posted on your Wiki will be closely tracked by the course instructor.

3. Group members can only edit their own group Wiki.

4. Do not plagiarize. The source material that you copy from other websites must always be properly identified in accordance with the format provided by the Chicago Manual of Style.

5. Always edit your posts, paying close attention to grammar and spelling. You are expected to write at a post secondary level.

6. Be sure that your posts are reflective of the positive space initiative at Saint Mary's University. Wikis should always be open and inclusive. Our course Wiki is designed to create a positive learning and working environment for all students.

7. Please forward any questions or concerns you have about your Wikis to the course instructor.

8. Questions and comments may also be posed on "Discussion" Q & A threads of our class Wiki.

9. You may also consult the "Help' tab above for instructions on how to build a Wiki group page.



The BBC has recently reported that pubs in Britain will be allowed to extend their hours on the weekend of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. According to Home Office minister, James Brokenshire, the royal wedding will be "an occasion for national celebration." The "modest relaxation" of licensing hours would enable pubs and clubs to play live music and continue on with other festivities until 1pm on 29 and 30 April 2011. In the words of Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, "This is great news, and it is really good to see the government recognizing that this is a brilliant opportunity for us all to get together in the pub, to celebrate the great national event." "With state-of the-art TV, great food and hospitality," Simmonds declared, "pubs will be right at the heart of the royal wedding celebrations, and the perfect place to enjoy the day."

See "Royal Weddings: Pubs to stay open Longer," BBC News, UK, 12 January 2011.
Royal Wedding

The news touches on many of the themes that we explored in class this week. We discussed the means by which invented traditions are used to paper over differences, national traumas, dislocating technological, economic and social change We learned that royal spectacles are meant to divert our attention from our everyday woes; that they are meant to renew our loyalty to current institutional arrangements, and encourage us to accept the status quo. Of course the timing of the royal wedding and this particular announcement couldn't be better. The British are, after all, in the midst of a very deep recession. Recent riots and growing public anger over the austerity measures put in place by the Lib-Tory coalition have caused a lot of ruckus on the national political scene. Less than a month ago (Dec 10) Camilla and Charles were attacked by a band of rowdy undergraduates protesting the tripling of tuition fees.


See Ken Wharfe, "Car made Charles and Camilla a Target," London Evening Standard, 10 December 2010.
Anarchy in the UK

What better way to drum of support for the monarchy, paper over class conflict, and encourage people to forget or at least accept the depressing realities of unemployment and a massive national debt than to throw a massive party? Elton John is probably writing the score as we speak--"I hope you don't mind..." Maybe the the old, anachronistic ceremony will done up in 3-D (New Skin for the Old Ceremony--thank you Leonard Cohen).


Please see above the introduction of the 2011 Canada Reads Panelists. The job of these "celebrities" is to tell Canadians why their chosen book is the most essential Canadian novel of the last decade. The novels included on this list are as follows: The Best Laid Plans (by author, Terry Fallis), Unless (Carol Shields), The Birth House (Amy McKay), The Bone Cage (Angie Abdou), Essex County (Jeff Lemire). The celebrities who have chosen to champion these books are, respectively: Ali Velshi, Lorne Cardinal, Debbie Travis, Sara Quin, and Georges Laraque.

Canada Reads--an annual "battle of the books"-- is a competition organized and broadcast by Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC. The debate is broadcast over a series of five (radio) programs. A t the end of each episode, the panelists vote one title out of the competition until only one books remains. The book is then billed as the book that all of Canada should read. Following the announcement of the winning title, the CBC opens an online forum where readers can discuss the book.

Canada Reads is an important program for a number of reasons. First, it provides much needed publicity for Canadian authors. The books in the running for each competition are announced several months before the programs are broadcast. Titles must be Canadian fiction, poetry, or plays. They are promoted in bookstores in the hopes that the Canada Read audience will purchase and read them all before the programs air. In some cases, publishers even publish special editions of nominated titles. The publishers of the winning Canada Reads book donate a portion of the proceeds from the winning book to a charitable cause linked to the promotion of literacy.

The bottom line is that the talented author who wins the competition sells a lot more books than she or he might otherwise have. Canada Reads has also been known to influence the outcome of the Giller Prize competition. The books are championed on live radio by Canadian celebrities whose sole job is to make the books palatable to a wide audience. If the author is lucky, their champion will link the contents of these stories to important themes in Canadian history, ideas about the Canadian identity, depictions of Canadian landscapes, experiences in Canadian communities, and so on, making them relevant and interesting to radio listeners.

So how does all this link to the themes that we discuss in The Invention of Modern Canada?

Well last week we talked about a snippet from Al Purdy's Poem, "A Walk on Wellington Street" (1968)

A country nourished in self-doubt
where from the reverse image of detractors
an opposite nation is talked into existence
that doesn’t resemble any other one
a cross-breed plant that survives in the winter

We discussed how the imagining of a nation is essentially a creative enterprise. In his book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson focuses on the positive aspect of nation-building--that is, he argues that nations are imagined and created. "Communities are to be dinstinguished," he contends, "not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined." Seen from this angle, literaure helps produce system of shared meanings--it is a medium through which symbols, images, metaphors (etc etc.) that somehow relate to the nation are produced and distributed. To be sure, literature does not always build up the nation--sometimes it challenges it, criticizes it, asks questions about it. The themes discussed in each chosen Canada Reads book become a part of a national conversation, and whether they challenge certain ideas we have about Canada and Canadian history or not, these stories get us talking about our selves and our identities as citizens and maybe even as patriots. They can also get us questioning our pasts and challenge the ideas we have about our selves and the nation. And in Canada we like to think that quality public talk is good thing--right?

Follow the link below to read more about Canada Reads 2011.

Canada Reads (2011), The Invention of Modern Canada

HIST 3403

AND THE WINNER IS.... The Seal Clubbers for the defence of Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Well done Group 4!

Please find links below that will help you research and champion your own "Group" poems:

THE MEESES: Sky Gilbert, "Why Cathy Lee Gifford is Just Like the United States of America," in Digressions of a Naked Party Girl (ECW Press, 1998).

"Sky Gilbert," Canadian Poetry Online.
"Fighting Words: Uncle Sam... wants you... to like him?" CBC TV, 15 April 1956.
Brendon O'Connor, ed., "Anti-Americanism: Comparative Perspectives," History, Causes, Themes (Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2007).

Group 2: F.R. Scot, "W.L.M.K.," in The Eye of the Needle: Satire, Sorties, Sundries (Montreal: Contact Press, 1957).

"Canada's Quiet Mackenzie King," LIFE, 19 April 1948.
"Statesman's Other Side," LIFE 23 March 1953.
"F.R. Scott," Canadian Poetry Online

Group 3: "Land of the Silver Birch," a traditional "Canadian" fok song.

Canadian Canoe Routes
Seven Wonders of Canada: The Canoe
Daniel Francis, "Ch. 6: The Ideology of the Canoe--The Myth of the Wilderness," in National Dreams: Myth, Memory, and Canadian History (Vancouver: Arsenal, 1997), pp. 128-151.

Group 4 (The Seal Clubbers):Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," Summertime Dream, 1976.

"29 die in the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald," CBC News, 11 Nov. 1975.
"Gordon Lightfoot and the Folk Revival," Morningside, CBC Radio, 8 November 1991.
Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

Cape Breton Highlanders Name Restored

Cape Breton Highlanders name restored

A military unit that fought in South Africa, both world wars and Korea has been reborn.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Sunday that the name of the 2nd Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders (Cape Breton) will be changed back to the Cape Breton Highlanders. The army reserve unit is assigned to the 36 Canadian Brigade Group.
From its birth in 1871, many Cape Breton families have seen family members serve with the unit that won 56 battle honours. The unit lost its former name in 1955 when it was combined with Nova Scotia's two other Highland regiments.
John Clarke, a member of the Cape Breton Highlanders Association, an association of former Highlanders, said the attachment to the name is difficult to explain.
"Once you become comfortable with, familiar with, military units that you belong to … you build up kind of a rapport or a connection with that unit," said Clarke, who was in the reserves after the Second World War and now looks after the Highlanders Museum in Victoria Park in Sydney.
"The Highlanders Association and others have been trying for a long time to reinstate the Cape Breton Highlanders name and are very proud of that name, so it makes us feel very good to get that name back again and get it into the community," Clarke said.
Clarke believes restoration of the name also means a lot to Cape Bretoners.
"We're quite certain that the name Cape Breton Highlanders will improve the recruiting aspect of the reserve unit — to have our own name — and people have pride in Cape Breton and pride in what we've done over the years and this is just another thing we can be proud of," Clarke said. "And hopefully we can get people to connect with us and come into the reserves."
Members of the Highlanders are currently serving in Afghanistan, while some are stationed at CFB Gagetown and CFB Aldershot. Locally, the reserves are preparing for winter training.
MacKay described restoration of the name as "a gesture of pride and respect for enduring traditions."
"Once again, the people of Cape Breton will be able to recognize it as their own unit," he said in a release.

"Cape Breton Highlanders name restored," CBC News, 16 January 2011.

The topic we'll be covering next week in class is "Nationalism and Ethnicity." The first lecture will discuss the extent to which Scottish and British identities are actively produced. What matters about "ethnic" identities is not so much whether they are real or mythological, whether they are based on true historical record or the imagination of community members, but why they exist, how those mythologies are produced and distributed, and the reasons why a large number of inhabitants might subscribe to certain ethnic identities in the ways that they do.

In the the article above we can see that the 2nd Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders of Cape Breton will take on the original label of Cape Breton Highlanders. In so doing, the unit will supposedly be "reborn." The new label emphasizes its Cape Breton roots, highlights the Cape Breton Highlanders' distinct "island" identity, and connects the unit to Scottish roots. Apparently it is thought that by restorinig the name the Armed Forces will be able to recruit more "Highlanders," as well.

What's in a name? In an "ethnic" label? Why would it compel one to sign up and possibly die for their nation? What does all this have to do with the Invention of Canada?


Robert Burns remains to this day a defining figure of Scottish identity. As a poet, lyricist, and collector of folk ballads, Burns is the most widely renowned of all Scots writers. In fact “Burns Night,” which is held on the 25th of January (TONIGHT!) every year to commemorate his birthday both in Scotland and the wide-reaching Scottish Diaspora, is more extensively celebrated than the official national holiday: Saint Andrew’s Day.

  • What is it that would make this eighteenth century poet from the rural district of Ayrshire into such a cultural icon?

  • What accounts for his popularity in Canada?

Well, as we can see in the image above and as most of us know just by living in Nova Scotia, there are many Canadians who continue to celebrate their ties to Scotland. There are also many people who aren't of Scottish descent but celebrate anyways because it's fun and because the Nova Scotia tourist industry has chosen to promote the Scottish identity (above all others). The celebration is enshrined in our social activities, provincial symbols, music, cinema, decor, and so on. There is even a Wikipedia entry on the "Scottish Canadian" .

To be sure, many of us are real products of the Scottish Diaspora. My Grandfather emigrated to Canada before the Second World War from the Bridge of Allan . He maintained close contact with his siblings in Scotland, they travelled here and we travelled there. We ate haggis and blood pudding, wore kilts, set the Christmas pudding on fire, drank a lot of imported scotch, and followed my uncle around on New Years’ eve as he played the bag pipes. In this way, my families' transatlantic ties informed the way that my identity and conceptions of community and nation were shaped.

The goal of the lecture today is to show that Scottishness and Britishness in Canada are identities that are lived by some of us but are also actively produced. We have learned from Anderson, Hobsbawm and Ranger that what matters about identity is not whether it is real or mythological, whether it is based on true historical record or the imagination of its inhabitants, but whether it exists, how the mythology is produced and distributed, and the reasons why a large number of inhabitants subscribe to it in the ways that they do.

So if you’re celebrating Robbie Burns tonight at your local Irish pub (right?) ask questions about the coupling of tourism and romantic Scottishness in contemporary heritage promotion in Nova Scotia.

  • Robbie Burns’ Night—coincidence or a conspiracy?

In the meantime, check out the RCMP Dance Team's rendition of Seann Triubhus. There is so much happening here, non? We could talk about masculinity and femininity (soldiers surrounded by female dancers), military regalia (nationalism, voilence, warrior culture), ritual and dance (signs, symbols, traditions), etc. etc.: RCMP Celebrates Robbie Burns' Night


This week we're watching Reel Injun, a film that examines how Hollywood portrayals shaped native self-perception and non-native prejudice. The film was directed by Neil Diamond and written by Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, and Jeremiah Hayes. In the film, Diamond recalls a youth spent watching cowboy-and-Indian movies in Northern Quebec. He notes that, almost always, he found himself rooting for the cowboys. Hollywood has made more than 4000 native-themed movies in the last 100 years, the vast majority of which are framed in the cowboy/Indian idiom--and the cowboys usually win. Later on, Diamond found it strange that he and his buddies "had cheered for the cowboys without realizing we were Indians"--James Bay Cree, in fact.

Now you may claim that nowadays we see First Nations people much more clearly--that the "cowboy/Indian" dichotomy no longer exists. But maybe our views of what constitutes First Nations today are as much bound up with myth, prejudice, and ideology as earlier versions were.

In class we learned that Native Americans were are real (of course), but that the Indian was a White invention. We learned that the "Indian" began as a white man's enemy, a white man's friend, perhaps, and even a white man's mistake. He also became a white man's fantasy. Perhaps in your blogs you might consider where stereotypes of "Indians" come from. How has "Indian" imagery affected public policy in Canada? How has it shaped and how does it continue to shape the myths non-Natives tell themselves about being Canadian?

On 17 October, 2010, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, argued at a gathering of her Christian-Democratic Union party that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have utterly failed." She said that the so-called "multikulti" concept--where people who "live side-by-side" happily--did not work, and immigrants needed to do more to integrate, and that includes learning the Germany language.

Her comments were made amidst a wave of rising anti-immigration in Germany. A recent survey there had suggested that 30 per cent of people in Germany believed the country was "overrun by foreigners." The study, by the Friederich Ebert Foundation--also showed that roughly the same number thought that some 16 million of Germany's immigrants or people with foreign origins had come to the country for its social benefits.

The moutning debate over multiculturalism in Germany is something to note for Canadians. Ms. Merkel has recently been under pressure from within the CDU party from members who argue that she needs to take a tougher stance on immigration and that she is not conservative enough. The debate extended to the question as whether or not immigrants, specifically "cultures like Turkey and Arab countries" found it "harder to integrate" into the mainstream of German society. "Multikulti is dead" proclaimed Horst Seehoger, a leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister organization.

Earlier in October, Merkel had held talks with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during which the latter pledged to do more to improve the poor "integration record of Germany's estimated 2.5 million-strong Turkish community."

Quotes taken from "Merkel says German multicultural society has failed," BBC News, 17 October 2010.

The debate raging in Germany--and other European countries--over multicultural policies is relevant to Canadians, for whom multiculturalism has become an essential part of their Canadian identity. It is also relevant to those among them who do not believe in the policy--for a variety of different reasons.

In class there will be a debate today on the following question: "Be it resolved that the federal government's policy of multiculturalism works and is a good thing."

Groups 1 and 4 will argue in support of the policy of multiculturalism.

Groups 2 and 3 will argue against it.

Stay tuned for a reports from both sides on their respective Wiki pages on the pros and cons of the Canadian policy--and who won!

Update: there were no winners in the debate on Thursday. All arguments for and against multiculturalism in Canada were well put and superbly delivered by teams 1 and 2. NB- numbers were so low last class that we could only field two teams.

Dear truants: our classes run from 2:30-3:45pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. Be there.

It appears that the British prime minister and Conservative leader, David Cameron, has jumped on Agela Merkel's Christian-Democratic bandwagon. In a recent speech on the "radicalization" of young Muslims, Cameron argues that multiculturalism is to blame. It is an argument that we discussed in class on Thursday--one that many of you rebuked in your defence of the policy.

"State Multiculturalism has Failed, says David Cameron," BBC News, 5 February 2011.

What are "British mainstream values" anyways? And what is "muscular liberalism"? Talk about extreme measures--i.e. cutting all public funding for multicultural programmes in the UK. It's funny that while fascist demonstrators were flooding the streets of Luton, Cameron was complaining about the "radicalization" of Muslims.

If neo-conservative ideas like these are on the move, I wonder if Harper's neo-Tories are going to start cutting the purse strings on multicultural programmes in Canada.



The Multiculturalism Debate Continues

The latest news out of Quebec is that the Kirpan--ceremonial dagger carried by Baptized Sikhs--has been banned from the provincial legislature in Quebec. As the CBC article (link below) notes, the Parti Quebecois tabled a motion asking the government to ban Sikhs from carrying their kirpans into the national assembly building--and the legislature voted unanimously in favour.

Now, it is important to note that the banning of the Kirpan comes only months after an incident in which four Sikhs invited to take part in a parliamentary hearing were prevented from entering the national assembly building by the head of security. These four members of the World Sikh Organizations planned to testify in favour of the right of Muslim women to wear face coverings when receiving government services. A new provincial bill has been tabled to restrict that right as well.

So, for those of you who argue in your blog posts that Canada is so very tolerant, you might want to consider what is going on in Quebec in the name of SECULARISM. Also note that although Quebec's governing Liberals have been very vague about their policies on allowing religious objects in the legislature, Oppositions PQ members were noted as having said that "MUTLICULTURALISM IS A CANADIAN BUT NOT A QUEBEC VALUE."

Now if this debate doesn't have something to do with Quebec and the question of Quebecois identity, then I don't know what does. The goal, as the PQ sees it, is that Quebec should legislate and get tough with regards to its stand on the province's secular, francophone character. This would occur, perhaps, at the expense of diversity.... But what do you think?

"Kirpan banned at Que. National Assembly," 9 February 2011

Above is an image of the Kirpan in question.

Maps and the Invention of Canada

Last week in class we talked about the connection between maps and what Benedict Anderson calls, "imagined communities.' Now Anderson's theory had been adapted by literary historians and material culture scholars to apprehend how an artifact creates a community through purchase, readership, inscription, or use. But it was not until the second edition of his famous book, Imagined Communities, that Anderson added a chapter (in 1983) on the roles of censuses, maps, and museums as tools with which the communion of citizens of and in a nation takes place. What he argued is that maps oriented readers to the delineated boundaries of a nation's sovereignty without reference to actual border markers (fences, stones, posts). Indeed, in Anderson's argument, historically the map created a socio-political reality before there was a spatial reality, rather than the assumed reverse, that maps represent existing physical or geopolitical circumstances.

Maps thus become one of many technologies or sites--like newspapers, museums, movies, the Olympics--were we can see our so-called collective experience traced and recorded. They are one of the means by which collective social bonds can be imagined rather than through directly experienced face-to-face interactions. So, in this way, they are cultural artifacts.


If we were to take Gerald Friesen's definition of a region--FORMAL/FUNCTIONAL/IMAGINED--how would we use it to examine the qualities of this map? What sorts of ideas is this map (of "East Canada" New Brunswick and Quebec) communicating? What are its main features?

Remember what we talked about with regards to the relatioship between power/knowledge and the colonization, organization, and mapping of the so-called "New World."

Maps with the Maple Leaf superimposed on them are easily enough to analyze--i.e. as a cultural artifact. The imagined community depicted here is pretty obvious!


Bombing of Dresden a Matter of Debate


Towards the end of World War II, the German city of Dresden was all but destroyed when Allied aircraft dropped bombs and incendiary devices in the area. By many estimates, 85 per cent of Dresden (above) was destroyed in the bombing raids of February 1945. A famous, quasi-fictional account of these raids can be found in Kurt Vonnegut's famous novel, //Slaughterhouse Five//.

During World War II, civilians were targeted deliberately from the air. In 1940, Britain's capital, London, suffered 57 consecutive nights of bombing by the German Luftwaffe. The aerial attacks continued throughout the war with other cities being hit.

Of course the allies did their share of bombing, too. On the night of February 13-14, 1945, as part of "Operation Thunderclap," approximately 1,200 of the Royal Air Force's Avro Lancasters dropped 2, 700 tons of bombs on the centre of the ancient city known as the "Florence of the Elbe." Over the following days, U.S. Air Force bombers carried out daytime raids on what was left of the community. The bombing was so intense that a firestorm erupted. The raid had caused so many fires in a concentrated area that huge volumes of hot rose to create a tornado strong enough to pick up people and suck them into the flames "like leaves into an autumn bonfire," as one writer put it. Civilians sheltered underground were asphyxiated as all of the oxygen was sucked out of the bunkers by the fires raging above them.
About 15 square kilometres of the city were destroyed, including more than 14,000 homes, 72 schools, 22 hospitals, 19 churches and scores of commercial and government buildings.

For a report on the account, broadcast on CBC radio on 14 February 1945, visit the CBC Archives: "The Bombing of Dresden."

The Debate over the Dresden:

Historians have argued over the number of people killed in the raid, some claiming that the death toll was as high as half a million. In 2004, a special commission of 13 prominent German historians was set up to examine the records of the attack. In October 2008, Bojan Pancevski of The Daily Telegraph reported on the work of the commission and wrote that it "concluded that no more than 25,000 civilians died during the attacks, debunking the claims of many revisionist historians who wished to compare the bombing to the Holocaust." Still other historians believe that somewhere between 35,000-60,000 people perished in the two days of bombing, but some accounts suggest that the city was packed with refugees fleeing the Soviet assault from the east and that the count could easily be 10 times higher.

Many have argued that the attack on Dresden constituted a war crime.

According to the professor of philosophy, A.C. Grayling, "... ever since the deliberate mass bombings of civilians in the second world war, and as direct response to it, the international community has outlawed the practice. It first tried to do so in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, but the UK and US would not agree, since to do so would have been an admission of guilt for their systematic "area bombing" of German and Japanese civilians." (See The Guardian 27 March 2006).

Even at the time, as much as the allies wanted to defeat Hitler and win the war, moral questions surrounding the raids on Dresden and other centres sparked controversies.

Roy Akehurst, a wirelss operator who took part in the raid on Dresden, is quoted as saying: "We seemed to fly for hours over a sheet of fire. A terrific red glow with thin haze over it. I found myself making comments to the crew: 'Oh God, those poor people.' It was completely uncalled for. You can't justify it."

"That's good bombing," RAF Wing Commander Maurice Smith was reported to have said as he wheeled the 244 Lancaster bombers under his control away from Dresden.

The Controversy over Dresden and Museum Policy in Canada:

A debate over the bombing of Dresden was sparked in Canada, too, shortly after the Canadian War Museum opened in 2005. The Museum mounted a 67-word panel entitled "Strategic Bombing: An Enduring Controversy" which outlined the larger debate surrounding the strategic necessity and morality of the attack. A group of veterans--my grandfather included!-- objected to the exhibit, arguing that its tone depicted them unfairly. Don Eliot, a Canadian navigator on a Lancaster bomber during the Second World War, said the original wording on the exhibit made his fellow airmen look like war criminals for bombing civilians in German cities. "I was upset by it," he said, "I thought that it was unbalanced. One of the fellows said he thought it was an apology to the Germans. We are a group that hasn't much longer to live." A Senate committee, which reviewed the issue, recommended in June that the panel should be changed. Although the museum believed the information that it provided to the public was historically accurate, it decided to bow to pressure and change the wording of the panel.

Many Canadian historians denounced the move. One such was Margaret MacMillan, who called it "a sad day for museums." The current display is accurate, she said, and the museum should not have changed a word. "I don't think museums should have to give into this sort of pressures, and I really regret that it's happened," said MacMillan.

The group of veterans who objected to the original wording of the panel proposed "its own version": "Thousand perished in the raids, and millions were left homeless. While these numbers were very large, they pale in comparison to the genocide perpetrated... by the Germans and their proxies."

Where do you stand in this debate? In what ways does museum policy impact the ways in which Canadians understand the nation's role in the war?
More generally, how might this debate shed some light on the difference between heritage and history that we discussed in class today?

Canada: A People's History

This week in class we are going to discuss the CBC's television series and book, Canada: A People's History. Above you can view a segment of its account of the Métis Resistance of 1869-1870.
In 1869, the Canadian government began negotiations in London with the British government and its representatives of the Hudson's Bay Company to acquire Rupert’s Land, roughly defined as all territories whose rivers flowed into Hudson Bay. The agreement reached in 1869-70 constituted one of the largest real-estate deals in history. The French Métis living in the Red River Settlement—what we know today as Winnipeg— resented that they had not been consulted over the sale of their homeland. They also disliked the aggressive action and haughty attitude of the small group of Canadian expansionists in the Red River colony working to bring the region into Confederation. In their local newspaper, The Nor’Wester, these Canadians ridiculed the Métis and proclaimed Canada’s right to take control of the Northwest as part of the country’s “manifest destiny.” Lead by Louis Riel, the Métis reacted by occupying Upper Fort Garry, the seat of government on November 2 1869, and establishing their own provisional government, thus gaining effective control of the Red River colony.
In both the book and the TV series, Canada: A People's History, an interesting image is used to depict the execution of Thomas Scott by a member of the Métis provisional government on 4 March 1870. Thomas Scott had been a recent arrival in the Red River colony who joined the counter-insurgency led by John Christian Schultz against Riel and the provisional government. Imprisoned twice following confrontations with the Métis, Scott, who had previously escaped, reportedly threatened violence towards Louis Riel following his incarceration. Riel ordered that Scott stand trial for insubordination before a military tribunal; he was found guilty, sentenced to death and executed outside the walls of Fort Garry.
Eyewitnesses disagreed over almost every aspect of Scott’s execution. Did the prisoner wear a blindfold? Was he killed in the first volley or was he still alive after the first shot? Was Riel present at the execution? Did her personally pull the trigger? Was the wounded Scott buried alive? What most observers can agree upon is that Scott, as a prisoner of the provisional government led by Louis Riel, was tried by a military tribunal for insubordination, found guilty, and executed by firing squad before the walls of Fort Garry at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers on 4 March 1870.
Observers also generally agreed that Scott’s death was a major turning point within the Red River Resistance of 1870. It was the first resistance led by the Métis leader Louis Riel during and after Canada’s acquisition of the Hudson’s Bay Company territory of Rupert’s Land, a key component of the Dominion government’s strategy for building the nation-state.
In the book and the TV series, a reproduction of the 1870 Illustrated News image of Scott’s execution was highlighted at the commencement of the sequence on the Red River Resistance, entitled, “A Single Act of Severity.” Here, the image provides a backdrop to the segment title and reappears in a sequence of still images presented to carry the story. More extensive use of the image is made in the book version of Canada: A People’s History, which features two reproductions of the picture—a full page rendering used as the signature image of the chapter entitled, ‘Confederation’ and a second reproduction accompanying the text’s discussion of the ‘Red River Rebellion.’ [Located on page 255 of the Volume I]
The CBC’s graphic artists artificially coloured the original black and white engraving, and on the chapter’s title page, cropped and blew up the picture to focus directly on the killer and the victim.
As with most other illustrations in the book, the authors attempt no critical pictorial analysis, nor is there any acknowledgment that they had artificially coloured and manipulated the image. It is presented as a realistic representation of the past, without explanation or context.
And then we have reference to the shooting itself. Riel is blamed for having ordered the execution in 1870.
Instead of being portrayed as an act of resistance against the encroachment of the Canadian state on the Red River Settlement (where the Métis had remained autonomous and self-governing for decades), the insurgency was labelled as a treasonous rebellion. When Riel comes back into the picture in 1885, during the North West Rebellion at Batoche in present-day Saskatchewan, the book makes mention that he is still, at this point, wanted for the murder of Thomas Scott.
One might think that the authors do this in an attempt to show how Riel’s hanging in November, 1885 could be viewed as retribution for the murder of the Englishman. Indeed, fifty years later one of the jurors, Edwin Brooks, said that Riel was tried for treason but hanged for the execution of Thomas Scott.

Now we can look at this version of the tale in the context of the way in which Canada: A People’s History portrays First Nations peoples in general. As mentioned before, they are either portrayed in the pastoral sense of Indians living peacefully in the wild or they are portrayed as violent Indians in a state of wilderness and savagery. So here, in the imagining of Louis Riel, we see a savage instead of a hero.
Generally, the use of the Thomas Scott illustration comprised part a strategy of enlivening the narrative with images of confrontation and violence in Canadian history, especially sensational accounts of graphic violence by First Peoples in their encounters with European newcomers.
Influenced by notions of history as a succession of exciting massacres and battles of good against evil, the producers of the CBC book selected suitable 19th century images to illustrate their concepts of history.
While the historical context of Canadian culture and society has changed a lot since the century in which this picture was produced for the Illustrated News, its uses in both cases fulfilled similar narrative purposes in both eras. “The Tragedy at Fort Garry,” illustrated in 1870 and used in Canada: A People’s History was meant to bring the viewer into the narrative. Perhaps it was produced to encourage its viewers to take the side of the murdered man and garner support for John A. Macdonald’s government and its goal to settle the west and hang Louis Riel.

At the end of class, many of you sided with the makers of Canada: A People's HIstory and argued that treating history as drama and telling stories along the lines of the familiar narrative arc of good versus evil was the best way to educate the public about Canada. And maybe your'e right. But I ask you to consider how presenting history in this way might skew history and tip over into the realm of heritage.


Changes in the Class Schedule

Week 12: March 22 & 24

March 22--Lecture: Art, Music, Film
Last 20 minutes of class will be reserved for Wiki Meeting.

March 24--The National Film Board
Last 35 minutes of class will be reserved for essay-writing review and Wiki meeting.

Week 13: March 29 and 31

March 29--Lecture: Hockey and Canadian Nationalism
15 minutes will be reserved for Wiki meetings.
Last 15 minutes of class will be reserved for teaching evaluations.

March 31--Lecture: the Donut and Canadian Nationalism
Last 25 minutes of class will be reserved for Exam review and brief Wiki meeting.

Week 14: April 5

Final prep for Wiki competition: 2:30-3pm
Wiki competition: 3-3:45pm

N.B. Note that you are no longer responsible for the readings for Week 14: Canada and the World.



"American Woman," The Guess Who's 1970 title tract was a call to arms for young Canadians living in the 1970s, an unofficial national anthem that has become the most popular song in Canadian rock and roll history.

In the late 1960s, vocalist Burton Cummings, guitarist Randy Bachman, bassist Jim Kale, and drummer Gary Peterson came out of Winnipeg and rocked both the Canadian and American music scenes. They achieved tremendous success with 1968's Wheatfield Soul single, "These Eyes," and in 1969 with Canned Wheat's "Laughing" and "Undone."

Whilst travelling in the United States , opening for The Shirelles, The Crystals and The Ronettes, the Canadian prairie band got a taste of what life was like in the Southern United States for black people.
Bachman: “When we toured down south with The Shirelles and The Crystals, you’d see the hatred. We would play gigs in Chicago or Minneapolis… and there were race riots right there, black against white and we’d be onstage playing… Police would come in and shoot everyone, there were guns going off overhead. It was a big shock for us Winnipeg guys. We didn’t understand it.”

Their experiences were reinforced while touring the U.S. at the height of the Vietnam War. “We had green cards and had to run away from selective service.” Bachman said. “That’s how badly they were looking for young men to serve in the way.” Culture shock left its impression, “we’d never seen ghettos in Winnipeg and suddenly we’re in Savannah, Georgia, witnessing real poverty.”

“To be down South and actually hit your first ghetto, it was unbelievable. I think later on it might have come out in ‘American Woman’: ‘I don’t want your war machines/ I don’t need your ghetto scenes.”

So “American Woman” drew upon American social, economic, and military conflicts through metaphor and allusion. Starting with an acoustical prologue and an easy going chant of “American woman gonna mess your mind, American woman, she gonna mess your mind,” Cummings spells out “American” before returning to the initial chant. Suddenly, the song becomes electrified and over-driven, with Cummings yelling out in anger and loathing:

“American woman, stay away from me. American woman, mama let me be. Don’t come hangin’ around my door, I don’t’ wanna see your face no more I got more important things to do then spend my time growin’ old with you. Now woman, I said get away. American woman, listen what I say. American woman, get away from me American woman, mama let me be. Don’t come knockin’ around my door Don’t wanna see your shadow no more Coloured lights can hypnotize Sparkle someone else’s eyes Now woman I said get away, American woman, listen what I say American woman said get away…” See Ryan Edwardson, Canuck Rock: A History of Canadian Popular Music (Toronto: UTP Press, 2009), pp. 134-137.

The song ends with a chant for separation from the American woman:

“Now woman, get away from me. American woman. Moma let me be. Go, gotta go, gotta get away, now go go go I’m gonna leave you woman, gotta leave you woman By bye bye bye bye."
Shaped by their experiences touring the United States and the nationalist period in which the song was produced, The Guess Who constructed an American straw man (or a straw woman) of an oppressive, militaristic, ghettoized, superficial society, ready for a lyrical gutting. In return, the song was nationally embraced as a vocal manifestation of communal anti-Americanism.

Hockey and Canadian Nationalism


Today we talked about the importance of hockey to "the invention of Canada." We decided that hockey moments viewed within certain historical contexts--the Summit Series of 1972, played in the midst of the Cold War; the Rocket Richard Riot on March 17, 1955 in Montreal in a pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec that was ready to burst; Wayne Gretzky's move to Los Angeles in the midst of negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement in August, 1988--can tell us much about how the game is entrenched in our imagining of the nation.

We also discussed the connection between masculinity and nationalism. Conceptions of normative masculinity--blueprints, sex-roles and stereotypes to which men are socialized to conform--change over time. In the late 19th century, we agreed that ideas of manhood were shaped by Social Darwinism (the idea of survival of the fittest), martial spirit, combativeness, toughness, and so on. But in the new industrial world, ideas of manhood changed as people began to be concerned that modern, white-collar work, increased leisure time, television-watching, etc., would precipitate the feminization of Canadian culture and over-civilization. In this context, the world of leisure sports became somewhat of a modern-day gladiator game in which men could tap into their "naturally" primitive, violent, and manly natures.

As we saw with the example of the Summit Series of 1972 in the geopolitical context of the Cold War, hockey can be viewed as war by other means. Sport is important to nationalism because it constitutes a charged interactive ritual out of which imagined communities arise. When Paul Henderson scored the tie-breaking goal to win the Summit Series, Canada--a middling power--could be seen as having defeated the Russians on a moral and manly level. We couldn't beat Russia in a real combative situation, but hockey was out game was viewed as a victory of good (capitalist, freedom-loving, manly Canada) over evil (socialist, totalitarian, immoral Russians).

As Ken Dryden put it at the time: "The talk all through the summer of 1972 was about the series. And because Canada was the best and sure to win, Canadians couldn't wait for the series to begin. It would be a glorious "coming out" party, a celebration of us. This gave to it a more fundamental dimension. For though much may be special about Canada, surrounded as it is historically and geographically by countries that are bigger, richer, more powerful, whose specialness seemed more obvious, we cling to every symbol. And a game is a game. But a symbol means much more. We had to win the series."

Hockey--and sport, more generally--can unite a country by papering over regional, socio-economic and ethnic differences. But in some cases, it serves as a reminder as to how divided we are. The Richard Riot in Montreal in 1955 is a case-in-point. As we discussed in class, after the Second World War the atmosphere in Quebec was highly charged. As the great European empires crumbled and the world witnessed the rise of independent, post-colonial nation states, Quebec nationalists began to strike out at what they viewed as Anglo-Canadian oppression. Maurice "the Rocket" Richard became a figurehead for post-war Quebec nationalism and fracophone identity. Montreal's success in hockey was, in many ways, considered as a "ritualistic revenge for the Plains of Abraham." Indeed, Richard was a hero to a francophone community which was politically and economically disadvantaged within an anglophone province. He was a symbol of strength and hope. He was constructed, by the media, to represent the emergence of a new French-Quebec nationalism--a nationalism that gradually supplanted the old, outdated Catholic French-Canadian consciousness. This new, more militant and masculine nationalism demanded greater economic opportunity for French Quebecers and insisted that the provincial government take an active role in making Quebeckers "masters in their own home."

Take a gander at the clip taken from CBC News on the Richard Riot below:

The goal here is to re-think the generalization that people so often make about hockey being a sport that all Canadians love. I would like you to reconsider the idea that hockey-and sport--can really unite us on a fundamental level and how far and for how long the ritualistic violence can really paper over socio-economic, ethnic, and regional differences. Even if we accept the notion that hockey and sport can sometimes unite much of the country, we have to consider the masculinist elements of this nation-building narrative and its importance to modern nationalism.


Wiki Competition

Judging Criteria: (please mark each section out of 2 for a total of 10)

1) Topic

Is the content topical? Is it interesting? How far does it address the themes and ideas that we examined in the course? Does the Wiki have an over-arching theme or goal?

2) Analysis

Are the posts analytical? Do the students explain how each post relates to the “invention of Canada” or has something to do with “imagined communities,” “invented traditions,” “regionalism,” “history versus heritage,” etc.? Is the post creatively written and is the information cleverly presented? Do the students provide references?
3) Design and Originality

Is the layout interesting, eye-catching and fun? Do the students provide relevant graphics and widgets? Are these images and widgets used creatively?
4) Over-all Content and Presentation
Is the content historically accurate? How well do the students present the content of their Wikis and relate them to the main themes of the course?

5) Grammar, Spelling, Style
Here you would judge the students based on the over-all level of grammar, spelling, and style of their writing.

The Invention of Modern Canada
Saint Mary’s University
HIST 3403 2
Final Examination: Winter 2011
Instructor: Cara Spittal
Date: Tuesday, April 26
Time: 2pm
Location: B207.
  1. Please read these instructions and the exam carefully.
  2. This exam is worth 30% of your final grade in the course.
  3. There is 1 (ONE) single-sided page to this exam.
  4. The exam consists of 1 (ONE) essay question.
  5. You have three hours to complete this exam.
  6. No notes, books or other aids are permitted for this examination.
  7. Your answers should incorporate and make specific reference to material covered in class lectures, group discussions and the readings assigned for this course.
  8. Please double-space your answers and write as clearly and legibly as you can.
  9. Good luck.

Essay Question:
“The mind supplies the idea of the nation,” wrote the French philosopher André Malraux, “but what gives this idea its sentimental force is a community of dreams.” In what ways might we consider modern Canada to be an act of imagination?



Exam Tips

Thesis Statements: All essays--exam essays, included--require thesis statements. A thesis statement should be specific--it should cover not only what you discuss in the essay but should also be supported by evidence. Your thesis statement in this essay should be an over-arching argument about the way modern nationalism works in Canada. It should examine how national narratives are produced and distributed; how they work to constituted the citizen and hail the patriot, etc. etc.

Introduction: The introduction should function as a roadmap for the rest of your paper. If I were you, I would explore the concept of imagined communities here.

Structure-Be sure to revisit the handout available on our Blackboard page which discusses how to properly structure an essay. Essays that you write in exams need to be properly structured, too: with the requisite topic sentence, evidence and examples, analysis, and then you need to relate it all back to your main thesis statement.

Analytical Tools-Make use of the tools and concepts that we have used in class. See some examples below:
  • The postcolonial state of mind (the 'problem' of Canadian culture)
  • The invention of tradition
  • The 'imaginary Indian'
  • Myths of national unity
  • Regionalism
  • The myth of the North
  • The infantilization of Quebec
  • Multiculturalism
  • The state as a producer of culture
  • The politics of celebrity
  • Heritage versus history
  • Public history and nationalism
  • The museum as a pedagogical tool
  • The aestheticization of politics (politics as art)
  • Nationalism and sport
  • Nationalism and literature
  • Nationalism and art
  • Nationalism and music
  • Nationalism and masculinity
  • Consumption and citizenship
*Always be sure to define the terms that you use. Always provide examples and evidence from lectures, in-class discussion, and readings to back up your claims. Be specific--always provide the names and main arguments of specific authors.

Examples: The exam, as you know, is three hours long. I expect that you will include at least 9 examples in your essay to back up the over-arching claim you make about the course in the introduction.

Conclusion: Your conclusion should not merely reiterate what you said in the introduction. Go back to the course syllabus. Read the paragraphs describing the course and its mandate. How does your essay contribute to our understanding of the "invention of canada"? What profound statement does your essay make about the way modern nationalism works in the Canadian context? What did you learn from this course (avoid being wish-washy here)?