Looking ahead: Canada During it’s Centennial Year

Yesterday, for Jonathan Vance’s Social Memory class, I presented on Canada’s Centennial celebrations.  Dr. Vance provided me with the official guide to the Centennial year and asked me to consider what role history played in the celebrations.  Was the 100th year anniversary of (the start of) Confederation looking at the past or toward the future?

Based on my review of the guide and some additional research, I decided that Canada’s Centennial was much more about the future than it was about the past.  To illustrate what I mean, here are a few of the events / programs from Canada’s Centennial year.

Confederation Memorial Buildings

In honour of Canada’s Centennial, approximately $88 million was spent on the creation of new cultural institutions all across Canada. This program was designed to encourage and facilitate a national culture.  These buildings are located in Canada’s capitals or larger cities.

Investment in Infrastructure

In addition to this program, another $88 was made available to communities for local projects.  Parks, recreational structures, community centres and recreational areas were the 4 most common investments (at 78% the total number of projects), while the top 4 history-related projects (museums / art galleries, historic building restoration, erection of memorials) made up less than 10% of the total number of projects

Focus on Youth

Many programs were designed specifically for youth. There was a Youth Travel Program, where teenagers could travel to other areas of Canada using funding from the provincial and federal governments.  6,000,000 bronze medallions celebrating the Centennial were presented to school children all over the country.  Communities also participated in beautification programs, where primary school children helped plant trees and shrubs throughout their community.  The purpose of these programs was to instill a sense of nationalism and civic duty in the next generation of Canadians.

How was the past used?

I found that when history was used during the Centennial, it provided a very linear narrative to reinforce notions of progress.  The Confederation Train for example, which traveled across the country and was visited by 100,000s of people, contained a series of exhibits relating to the country’s history.  The themes of the cars were as follows: Prehistory, European Exploration, Settlement, Confederation and Industrialization. At the end of the train, visitors were encouraged to contemplate the future of Canada.  Using one of Canada’s most powerful historic symbols, the Confederation Train was an example of looking at history in order to think about the future.

More importantly, what digital tool did you use in your history presentation??

For my presentation, I traded in my Powerpoint template for the new presentation tool Prezi.  It was the first time I had worked with Prezi and, while there was a bit of a learning curve, I don’t think I will ever return to Powerpoint.  With Prezi, you basically add all of your points and images onto a large canvas and then create a path between each item to formulate your presentation.  It creates an animated and much more visually appealing presentation (although, it is possible to make your presentation too animated, causing your audience to experience waves of dizziness / nausea).

Prezi offers both paid and free versions, the main difference being that Prezis created using the free version are  made public on Prezi’s site (so if you are working on any top-secret projects, you should splurge for a paid account, which allows you to create private Prezis).  Prezis are created in your browser, but you can download a version so that you don’t need to rely on an internet connection for your presentation.

Here is a link to my Prezi presentation, if you are interested in learning more about Canada’s Centennial or Prezi!


3 thoughts on “Looking ahead: Canada During it’s Centennial Year

  1. Hey Joanna,

    You did a great job with the presentation yesterday. I agree that it seems like the focus for the centennial celebrations centered on youth and new building/community initiatives.
    It will be interesting to compare how Canada celebrates its 200th birthday in 2067. It is exciting to think that we may actually be alive to witness it!

    Prezi was also pretty cool by the way. Nice job.


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