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Where did Canadian history go wrong?

Posted by on Dec 24, 2014 in Articles | 4 comments

You remember how it was in school: names, dates, events, all of them of long ago and far away and of no real interest. Which is precisely what’s wrong with the way we teach Canadian history in school, if you ask me. (They don’t, of course.) If children don’t engage with Canadian history, is it their fault? Or is it ours because we present it so poorly that Canadian history becomes, in fact, boring and dull? Several times I’ve...

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It will always be Jimmy Chickens Island

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Articles | 13 comments

News Item: When Charlee the American bulldog was spooked by Halloween fireworks in Victoria, she took off. Rather, she swam to Mary Tod Island off Oak Bay. I’m pleased to report that she was soon reunited with her owner, but that’s not my story which is about one of my favourite pioneers… Maps show the wooded isle off Oak Bay as Mary Tod Island but to those who know their history it will always be Jimmy Chickens Island. This...

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Sir John Franklin Expedition has strong Victoria, B.C. link

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Articles | 4 comments

So they’ve finally found Sir John Franklin. Well, his ships anyway. 170-plus years after he and all of his 128 men vanished in the Arctic while searching for the legendary Northwest Passage. This is what legends are made of: The most expensive scientific expedition to that time in history, which sailed…into oblivion. Not a single survivor. Not, for years, a single clue! Ever so slowly the puzzle has been unraveled through the efforts, often heroic, of numerous explorers and,...

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Grace Islet Burial Ground Controversy is same old, same old

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Articles | 3 comments

Almost from the time of the arrival of Europeans, First Nations burial sites have been the targets of abuse. Most have succumbed to development although there have been cases of deliberate desecration such as occurred on Victoria’s Deadman’s Island in the 1860s. The public was reminded of the need to protect indigenous burial grounds in the summer of 2014 when controversy raged over otherwise nondescript Grace Islet. Situated in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island, it was the site of a...

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Canadian $10 bill kerfuffle recalls martyred nurse Edith Cavell

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Articles | 3 comments

Oops. There was a mistake on our new plastic $10 bill. It only took the Royal Canadian Mint eight months to correct, if not admit, that they goofed on their photo of Mount Edith Cavell. According to the Canadian Press, mountain climber Hitesh Doshi spotted the mistake: a mountain that was identified on the RCM’s website as 3363-metre Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park was actually Lectern Peak. After laying the blame on the Canadian Bank Note Co.,...

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150th Anniversary of Leech River Gold Rush

Posted by on Jul 27, 2014 in Articles | 9 comments

In July 2014, the Sooke Region Museum marked this epic anniversary of the discovery of gold in Vancouver Island’s Leech River. As did, the previous weekend, the Vancouver Island Placer Mining Association. It wasn’t a great gold rush so far as gold rushes go, certainly not on the scale of those of Australia, California or the Klondike. Not even, for that matter, others, before and after, here in British Columbia: the Fraser River and Cariboo, the Kootenays, the Big...

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Dr. Frances Kelsey grew up in the Cowichan Valley

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

If you don’t recognize Frank Trevor Oldham or his wife Katherine Booth Oldham, perhaps you know of their illustrious daughter, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, who just celebrated her 100th birthday. The senior Oldhams take their rest in the little cemetery of St. John the Baptist, Cobble Hill, where Frances was born, July 24, 1914. A few miles away, at neighbouring Mill Bay, Frances Kelsey Secondary School takes its name from this locally born scientist who, as director of scientific...

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