By Michael Storey

This is a momentous year for Canadian history as we approach both the sesquicentennial of Confederation and the centennial of our victory at Vimy Ridge. With this in mind it became my colleagues’ and my objective to push for as much of a celebration of our nation’s history as our administration would allow. So when my geographer colleagues noticed that Canadian Geographic and Historica were making available a number of 8 x 11m maps of the battle of Vimy Ridge we collectively jumped on the opportunity hosting one of the maps would represent.        

We quickly realized that this one piece would garner attention but that it also provided us with an opportunity to draw more attention to a subject that we believe is vital to Canadian identity: the Great War.   

To that end we reached out to our community of parents and colleagues and discovered that drawing from them alone we could curate a small museum-like installation to promote awareness of the era for a number of courses including grade 9 Issues in Canadian Geography and grade 10 Canadian History. What came together engaged our students from primary to grade 12. It drew attention from colleagues in other departments as it became clear how their areas of expertise were represented in this era. Suddenly, we were not an unappreciated area of study but people who validated all areas of study. It improved our relationship with the community, drawing attention from our local Legion and council members. It caused conversations in our hallways. The inclusion of local history and names of families in our community made this very personal. We had found that magical mix of grand manoeuvres and local minutiae.

The success we experienced by showing how local people interacted with this global event has encouraged us to look for ways to continue tapping into this interest. I would encourage all who read this to look for similar opportunities to marry the larger attention-grabbing resources which are being made available this year, especially, and to remember to make the connections to their local communities and to communicate their achievements to the local bodies which might be interested. Our busyness sometimes undermines our achievements when we fail to share just how good we are at our business, helping others to see the connections between communities past and present.



Michael Storey teaches at Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Editor's Note: It's time to start thinking about OHASSTA 2017 in Ottawa! Don't miss our conference, Nov. 16 and 17, 2017. Here's a reminder of what you can take home with you, from practical tips to inspiring thoughts.

By Rob Butters

Returning from Ottawa after a free visit to the War Museum early Saturday morning [in Nov. 2016], I was once again thinking "OHASSTA is the best History P.D. there is!"  What will I use?  What will I share?  Here's a few of my thoughts:

  • Duff Conacher from Democracy Watch pointed out some great resources. These are ready-to-use templates to get Civics students actually doing the things that active citizens do.  I've recommended this website, and its companion to the Civics teachers at my school.
  • Voices into Action!  I'd heard of this before, but we saw the detailed program map for the free lessons they have available - topics for which there aren't a lot of other resources (Komagata Maru Incident, The Bosnian War, The Boat People) 
  • Truth and Reconciliation - this was the big theme of the conference, as in "Whose Democracy?"  Michael Burgess got us thinking about "decolonizing Canada" with some great readings, including Chief Dan George's "Lament for Confederation."  From the acknowledgement of the land (Parliament Hill is unceded Algonquin territory) to several FNMI-themed workshops, figuring out how to teach about these issues is essential
  • I'll probably never get to my class (from York Region) to the Diefenbunker, but I will take them to the website!  The Diefenbunker people surfaced in the publisher's display area.  Cold War - cool stuff.
  • Working with John Piper is always a blast!  His enthusiasm for teaching and learning is so infectious.  Thanks, John! 


Democracy Education Network

Democracy Watch

Voices Into Action

Canada’s Cold War Museum



Rob Butters is head of history at Stouffville D.S.S. in York Region DSB.

Conference 2016 photo courtesy of Alan Skeoch

Historica Resources



Women’s Suffrage in Canada (EN)

Women’s Suffrage in Canada (FR)

Women’s Suffrage Resources on The Canadian Encyclopedia

Wilfrid Laurier (EN)

Wilfrid Laurier (FR) 

Wilfrid Laurier Resources on The Canadian Encyclopedia 


Additional materials are available through subject specific Collections on The Canadian Encyclopedia. They also have a Votes for Women contest that is open until May 21st, 2017.



To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, Historica Canada is launching Here’s My Canada, a multilingual nation-wide contest that invites Canadians ages 6 and up to express what their country means to them in a 30-second video.

Numerous prizes to be won. Check it out today. 


By Rachel Collishaw

I happen to believe that democratic citizenship ought to be the reason for education. As a long-time history and social science teacher, I believe that citizenship is the reason for keeping compulsory Canadian and World Studies courses. In the Canadian and World Studies curriculum, Citizenship Education gets its own Framework (p. 10), so that it is part of all courses in this curriculum. I would hope that all of us teach citizenship in some way in our classes, but the grade 10 Civics and Citizenship class is the dedicated space where our students explore these issues. This course asks students to engage in issues, and I found it difficult to have credibility with them, without engaging with issues myself. Teaching this class inspired me to become more involved in OSSTF and to speak up on issues I care about in my neighbourhood.

Some of you may have heard about a recent fight to save Civics and Citizenship in Ontario classrooms; some of you may have been a part of the political action. Maybe you tweeted or retweeted, posted or shared on Facebook, wrote letters to your MPP or the Minister of Education. Maybe you did this on your own or you discussed the issue with your Civics class. If you did, I want to thank you. Our voices were heard and the grade 10 Civics and Citizenship course is safe, for now. If we all stand together in solidarity, we can make a difference, but we must continue to be vigilant to ensure that we all work together to educate students about civic engagement and democratic principles.

Just in case you were distracted by the troubling civic issues south of the border in the last couple of months, here’s a recap of the events here in Ontario: