Get Outside! A NiCHE/Source Story Collaboration

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This summer, NiCHE is partnering with Histoire Source | Source Story to share the environmental histories of Canada’s “outside.” It’s summer break for many of us, but that doesn’t mean we stop thinking about environmental history and the worlds that surround us. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, we’re always face-to-face with an environment that has a history. So, to help students and educators across Canada think critically and carefully about the environments they might find themselves in over the summer, two historians have shared primary sources with Source Story‘s Samantha Cutrara that engage with the idea of “going outside.” What activities might we do during our summer breaks, and what histories do they have? How do the things we interact with when we go outside challenge what we think we know about Canada and Canadian history?

Our first contributor, Dr. Jenny Ellison (Canadian Museum of History) shares artifacts from world champion hurdler Perdita Felicien, which are now in the Canadian Museum of History’s collection. From shoes, to luggage tags, to home photos of her childhood bedroom, Dr. Ellison brought familiar, yet juxtaposed, artifacts together to tell Perdita’s story of the highs and lows of sport. This conversation touches upon themes such as intergenerational communities and challenges, Caribbean Canadians’ contributions to the 20th century, and the ways ordinary school activities – like track and field days – can result in finding extraordinary talents.

Watch the French reaction video to Dr. Ellison’s conversation here.

Our second contributor, Dr. Dale Barbour, discusses the history of Toronto’s Sunnyside Beach. Using historical photographs and archival renderings, Dr. Barbour discusses how Sunnyside Beach developed over the first half of the 20th century, looking specifically at the intersections between capitalism, ecological imperialism, and modernism.  

When it becomes available, the French reaction video to Dr. Barbour’s conversation will be linked here.

Histoire Source | Source Story is a conversational video series for Canadian history teachers. Funded by Canadian Heritage Fund, eleven conversations, along with bilingual reaction videos, have been posted since March with another whole series of videos starting in September. These conversations focus on one primary or secondary source and ask: What is the Source? What is the Story? How does teaching with this challenge Canadian history? With the focus on “challenges,” this series wants to provide counterstories to Canadian history teachers so that they can bring complex and connected histories into their classrooms to different, more meaningful and transformative stories about the Canadian past. 

This summer, Histoire Source | Source Story will be posting “Short Stories” created by individuals and institutions across North America along with a DYI PD program featuring the rich conversations and an invitation to just go for a walk!

This partnership with NiCHE is the first Histoire Source | Source Story partnership. Check out more environmental stories of “stuff” here on The Otter later this summer.

Cover image: Sunnyside Park, Toronto, c. 1925. Toronto Public Library Digital Archive

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Blair Stein

I am Assistant Professor of History at Clarkson University in northern New York State. I teach history of science and technology and environmental history, and I write about the links between geography, technology, and modernity in twentieth-century Canada, with a special interest in aviation.

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