Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada's history museum

  • Print

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is getting a new name and a fresh mandate to educate Canadians about their history and national identity.

The Canadian Museum of History, as the institution in Gatineau, Que., will now be known, will be more sharply focused on the country's past, with stories that explain how a land that was once dismissed as "a few acres of ice" developed into a unique, wealthy and influential country.

The previous title was vague, as was the museum's mission, which seemed to include multiple trajectories and themes, everything from postal history to natural science and exhibits on butterflies.

When the redevelopment is complete, visitors will know they are taking a trip into the past, but the goal is also to help Canadians understand the present.

The changes may upset those who dislike change, but the refocus is merely the latest in a series of changes in title and function in the museum's long history as a repository of national treasure and knowledge.

The museum traces its lineage to 1856 when the Province of Canada established the Geological Museum.

It eventually evolved into a national repository for flora and fauna, ancient human history, languages and cultural artifacts. After more changes, it became known as the National Museum of Man, and then the Museum of Civilization in 1986. It moved into its current building in 1989.

The goal of the latest initiative is to develop partnerships with museums across Canada, including the Manitoba Museum, so provincial exhibits can be displayed in Ottawa and national treasures can tour the country.

It's a laudable goal, but it doesn't appear to come with a budget.

Moving precious objects and staging exhibitions isn't cheap, so Ottawa will have to come up with more money if it wants to truly pursue the idea of partnerships.

Critics say the new configuration is just another Tory plot to remake Canada in its own image.

The inclusion of war stories, for example, is cited as evidence of a right-wing agenda, but the complaints are preposterous.

War history is a major part of the Canadian story and it belongs in the new museum. The Canadian War Museum tells the story in greater detail, but a national history museum would be incomplete without a military narrative.

The changes, moreover, originated within the museum itself, which saw a need to reinvent its product.

The new vision reflects the country's growing self-awareness and the realization that a knowledge of history is the basis of an informed citizenry.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 22, 2012 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Public finally sees inside the Museum for Human Rights

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Canada's involvement in the fight against Islamic State?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google