Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1891 Canadian Census Free Online for Canada Day Weekend

Gleaned from Chris Moore's blog...

"Christopher Moore's History News"

The 1891 Canadian Census is open on free of charge for the Canada Day Weekend...

1891 Census Temporarily Available for Free

I know I'll be taking advantage of this to track down the records of some family members information for posterity's sake. Perhaps my grandmother will like copies...

Happy hunting!

Random uni student

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dusty bookshelves? I think not....well....maybe.

Interesting article out of the Huffington Post on the importance of funding public libraries. Surprising stats.

Opportunity and Access: The Power of Today's Public Libraries

I worked in a library (in southern Ontario) for a few years and I can anecdotally (a word??) attest to the findings in the article. It is vitally important that public libraries provide a place where people, who may not have access to the internet or the money to buy books, are able to actively participate in our information age. I also witnessed quite often just the free public space that libraries offered (coupled with access to the internet) being used as a haven for kids and teens who had a less than ideal home life. In these cases, like teachers in a small way*, library staff become key figures and influences in some of these peoples lives. Another note on the use of the internet in libraries is by elderly people. When working at my local library I had the opportunity to teach seniors (and even sometimes middle aged people) how to use a computer and the internet. This training became vitally important in more than a few people's lives; indeed I was able to witness some heart touching connections between generations are older people actively sought to take part in the world of their kids and grandkids. To cut budgets from libraries endangers cutting a whole swath of the population out of OUR information age.*

The link was found through a daily link subscription. Library Link of the Day . It's become very useful :)


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* Most teachers fill this role far more substantially than any library staff could. I certainly don't wish to take away from the good work and influence of our teachers.
*Noted that there are other places to access free internet, such as employment offices, but these are not as numerous as libraries and often the mandate of these sites is to use internet access for job searching.

Update: Found this article as well, it fits nicely to the theme...Libraries and Librarians Are Endangered Species: What You Can Do to Help

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Turning a new's about time.

An interesting article...

"Gay-Themed Youth Literature Takes Off"

Article sent by Library Link of the Day


random uni student

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bathroom Graffiti Project

Two things:

One, lately there's been some discussion amongst people I know about the anonymity of internet and how it allows people to say what they want without fear of consequences. This same principle applies for bathroom stall graffiti and messages, which have always fascinated me - especially when conversations are carried on. There's everything from Bible quotes to racist comments and from philosophical sayings to fart jokes...there's quite a variety of thoughtful ponderings, shocking confessions,rude comments exchanges, toilet humour (pun INTENDED!)etc. Why is it that the walls of a public toilet offer us a secluded solace where we fear little to no consequences for what we write?

Two, I've often pondered how interesting it would be to undertake a project of documenting and analyzing messages and conversations that one finds on bathroom stalls and above urinals.

Well...look's like someone's already thought of the idea...

and also...


random uni student

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Help!? Book Decisions!

So, as usual I have way too many books on my to-read list and I've decided to throw a few out there and let my readers (all 4 of you I'm sure) to choose my next read for me. Please post your choice via a comment. I'll read the one with the most votes and then write a general review when I'm finished. Also, when I get it and see how dense it is I'll post choices for a timeline for me to finish it that everyone can vote on as well.

Indecisive much? I think yes.

1. Breaking the spell : religion as a natural phenomenon
Daniel C. Dennett.2006.

2.National dreams : myth, memory, and Canadian history
Daniel Francis.1997.

3.The ascent of money : a financial history of the world
Niall Ferguson.2008.

4.The Aryan Jesus : Christian theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany
Susannah Heschel.2008.

5.Private history in public : exhibition and the settings of everyday life
Tammy S. Gordon. 2010.

6.Boys in the pits : child labour in coal mines
Robert McIntosh. 2000.

7.Kiss the kids for dad, don't forget to write : the wartime letters of George Timmins, 1916-18.
edited by Y.A. Bennett. 2009.

8.Canadas of the mind : the making and unmaking of Canadian nationalisms in the twentieth century. edited by Norman Hillmer and Adam Chapnick.2007

9. The Lord for the body : religion, medicine, and Protestant faith healing in Canada, 1880-1930. James Opp. 2005.

10. Books on fire : the destruction of libraries throughout history / Lucien X. Polastron ; translated by Jon E. Graham.2007.


Random Uni Student

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tommy Douglas Docs...

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post. Here are a couple documentaries on Tommy Douglas that I enjoy. Both docs contain some great speech clips.

Tommy Douglas: Keep of the Flame - National Film Board of Canada 1986

The Premiers: Tommy Douglas -CPAC 2009?
Steps: (because for some reason the link wasn't working)
Select Program (drop down menu)
The Premiers
Tommy Douglas

CBC Archives: Tommy Douglas and the NDP - 1935-2001

Sometimes being idealistic can be a good thing...


a random uni student

Thursday, June 10, 2010

History Flickr?

Hi Everyone,

A very cool site, once again an amazing find from historian Christopher Moore's Blog...

This site seeks to gather historic photographs and super-imposes them upon modern photographs of the same locations at which the original picture was taken.

As an example of my atrocious Frenglish...this site is TRES COOL!

Christopher Moore;s blog -

Random Uni Student

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remembering the chair...

Hi everyone,

I saw today that June 2nd was the anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It reminded me of an awful blog post that I wrote in 2007 on my first blog and I thought I'd re-post it for the heck of sincerest apologies. Below is also a link to a video of the 1953 coronation ceremony...CBC archives has come through for me again!

"Now children gather round and hear a faithful tale resound, for from the lips of a historian flow, the wonder that only history can bestow. Haha, I’m a geek, ok here’s my, I’m sure long anticipated, blog on the British Coronation Chair, otherwise known as King Edward’s Chair. This is a subject that has fascinated me for quite some time and my admiration goes out to the protectors of the chair over the centuries for so carefully preserving not only a piece of British history but a piece of history that has had such an impact on Europe and the World as a whole; for upon the chair almost every English, then later British monarch have been crowned since 1308. For 700 years the royals of England have been crowned upon its seat.

The chair is made of oaken wood and originally did not have the four lions at its feet. They were added in the early 16th century (1500’s) by the Tutor dynasty and the four gold lions presently at the bottom of the chair where put in place of the originals in 1727. The space above the four lions was the former permanent home of the Stone of Scone. I will come back to speaking about the stone later on. Originally, the stone was completely enclosed by a decorated wooden panel, but over the years the panel was worn away thereby exposing the stone when it is set in place beneath the seat.

As mentioned, every monarch in England since Edward I in 1308 has been crowned upon the chair at a coronation ceremony, but there are a few exceptions. The 12 year old Edward V was proclaimed king in 1483 but his throne was quickly usurped by Richard III and Edward was placed in the Tower of London; and never seen again. He therefore was never officially coronated. That makes me want to study the War of the Roses more…it’s so hard to keep all these monarchs straight!!! There was one other monarch who was king but was never crowned; this being Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936. Both instances there were proclamations of kingship but never coronations. There are two other interesting facts that I feel would fit quite nicely in this section. The first is that in 1689 when a joint monarchy of William III (William of Orange, a Dutch royal) and Mary II was created. At the coronation ceremony a second chair was made for the Queen. Thus, in 700 years there were really only three monarchs of England who were not crowned upon King Edwards Chair. There is one more interesting bit of information, in 1653 Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed Lord Protector and the sat in King Edwards Chair for the ceremony. It should be noted though that Cromwell was not proclaimed a monarch, he did not want to be a king and was surprised even when Parliament wanted to give him power, and therefore the ceremony was not held in Wesminter Abbey, but in Westminster Hall. The ceremony had always been held in Wesminster Abbey to, I assume originally, go along with the idea of the divine right of Kings.

As a quick note Cromwell was head of the military and jointly ruled England with a Council of State and Parliament.

The Stone of Scone is surrounded by many legends. First it is said to be the stone that Jacob rested his head against "And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it" (Genesis chapter 28, verse 18). O, I’m just going to paste straight from the site here to tell you the legends behind the stone, “Legends abound concerning the Stone of Scone and tradition identifies it with the one upon which Jacob rested his head at Bethel - "And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it" (Genesis chapter 28, verse 18). The legend then says that Jacob's sons carried it to Egypt and from thence it passed to Spain with King Gathelus, son of Cecrops, the builder of Athens. About 700 BC it was said to be in Ireland, whither it was carried by the Spanish King's son Simon Brech, on his invasion of the island. There it was placed upon the sacred Hill of Tara, and called "Lia-Fail", the "fatal" stone, or "stone of destiny", for when the Irish kings were seated on it at coronations the Stone groaned aloud if the claimant was of royal race but remained silent if he was a pretender. Fergus Mor MacEirc (died 50l?), the founder of the Scottish monarchy, and one of the Blood Royal of Ireland, received it in Scotland, and Kenneth MacAlpin (d.860) finally deposited it in the monastery of Scone in Perthshire (846).” (

Now, here’s the really interesting part of the story. The original purpose of the chair was to enclose the Stone of Scone, and the stone being under the seat of the British Monarch was a symbol that England was “over” Scotland and its throne. You see, up until 1292 every Scottish king had been crowned upon the stone (and before the Scots, Irish monarchs had been crowned upon it). So, British monarchs, when crowned upon the King Edwards Chair were essentially proclaiming England’s power of Scotland and Ireland.

There is an ironic twist to this story though. Upon the stone is carved:

Ni fallat fatum, Scoti, quocunque locatum
Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem

[If Fates go right, where'er this stone is found
The Scots shall monarchs of that realm be crowned]

Basically it says that whatever kingdom the Stone is found in that a Scot will be the ruler of that kingdom. This came true in 1603 with the crowning of James VI of Scotland (James I of England). So, the original purpose of the Stone was to show English rule over Scotland and then a Scot takes the British throne and once again puts a Scot ruler over Scotland…AND England. Isn’t that a kick in the pants?????

Oh, and for the record the Stone weighs 336 pounds and is composed of sandstone. Also, I tried to think of something funny/qwirky/clever to type here but failing to do so I will continue onto the next section.

There have been a few instances when the chair has been removed from Westminster Abbey. In WW2 the chair was moved and the Stone was placed in a vault. This was for their protection from the German bombing raids. On the last point I am not 100% sure, I just remember reading it. Please correct me if you know it to be false or would like to add information to it. In 1887 the chair didn’t actually left the Abbey but it was used for something other than a coronation. Queen Victoria used it for her Golden Jubilee services. As mentioned before the chair was moved to West Minster Hall where Oliver Cromwell was declared Lord Protector.

In 1950 the Stone was actually stolen from the chair by four Scottish nationalists and brought back to Scotland. It was retrieved again after negotiations with the nationalists and was promptly put into the vault that it was placed in during WW2 and wasn’t returned to the chair until 1952, in time for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

There is speculation that the current Stone is not the original. Some say the Scots hid the real stone and replaced it with another in anticipation of the invasion of Edward I circa. 1296. Also, there is speculation that the nationalists in 1950 didn’t give back the stone they stole, but replaced it with another one. The truth may never be known. Sometimes there is great wonder and tension when thinking about historical mysteries of such nature. Regardless, the current stone represents England’s rule over Scotland.

In 1996 the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, John Major, had the Stone returned to Scotland where it resides today in Edinburgh Castle. The Stone though was returned on the condition that it is restored to the chair when a coronation occurs in England.

Well, that’s my blog about the Coronation Chair of Britain and the Stone of Scone. I have no idea why it interests me so much. Maybe because it’s a representation of so many things, patriotism, deceit, power, honour, cruelty, pride (both good and bad), all of these things have characterized English monarchs over the centuries. These monarchs of England jointly have had perhaps the most influence on the world than the monarchs of any other nation throughout history, and for 700 years they have been crowned upon one chair, over one stone. The nation has changed much in 700 years but the Chair has remained.

Here is a link to a video clip of Queen Elizabeth II being crowned in 1953 at her coronation ceremony. There are several spots in the clip that show her on the Chair:

Ok, that’s it. Frig….I love history.

-a history student"


Random Uni Student

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Stubborn Ounces of History

A thought...though by no means a new one...

no turning point in history occurs or significant historical personality makes their impact in a vacuum. Indeed, each is necessarily supported by many intentional and unintentional acts of other people; people who seem insignificant in the shadow of the event or the historical actor.

This is, of course, a very general and simple idea, but nonetheless warrants expression. In a moment of clarity while enjoying the sunshine on my campus this thought occurred to me while I was reading. In Tom Warner's book "Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada" he writes about the evolution of gay and lesbian/feminist (closely linked during the gay liberation movement of the 1970's-1980's)in that a good number of small liberation organizations and publications were started and failed within a few years or less. These initiatives were constantly failing and yet more would be formed, fail, and more would be formed after those. Finally, in the late 1970's and onward gay liberation groups generally gained a more permanent status as circumstances changed. They would go on to have serious legislative, legal and social impacts upon Canada and Canadians. But, these impacts would not have occurred if it were not for what I'm going to label as stubborn ounces. These early groups and publications, now largely forgotten, paved the way for the stability of gay and lesbian political and social activist groups and publications that we see today. Each one added more weight to a movement which eventually would tip the scales of Canadian society. No matter how many failures the groups and publications continued to be formed...again...again...and again.

The gay and lesbian liberation movement is just one example of many that fits this historical pattern. It could easily be applied to any movement or occurrence, past or present. But perhaps I could nuance this common sense thought with a quotation from the late Tommy Douglas, former leader of the Saskatchewan and federal CCF/NDP parties between the 1940's and the 1960's...

"You say the little efforts that I make will do no good; they never will prevail to tip the hovering scale where justice hangs in balance. I don't think I ever thought they would, but I am prejudiced beyond debate in favour of my right to choose which side shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight"

The acts of many INDIVIDUALS and SMALL groups working towards a goal are the "stubborn ounces" which far outweigh the importance of the significant events or historical actors as it is these stubborn ounces that provide the weight and thus the the power to create the inertia that is inherently present in the evolution of every epoc of human society.

Every vote counts, every e-mail, every petition signature, every Fscebook status, every link passed along etc. etc. are the stubborn ounces which tip the scale of justice and social evolution.

And here's some union and civil rights songs to complement. Also a video of the farewell speech of Tommy Douglas upon his resignation as leader of the NDP in 1971...I find it inspiring :)I do wish the NDP would its roots again as a movement rather than a party, but this may impossible, and is of course terribly idealistic.

Solidarity Forever:

We Shall Overcome:

Douglas steps down:


Random Uni Student