03 March 2012

Planning for Canada 150

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage continues a study on how to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation in 2017. A number of prominent organizations have made presentations. On February 14 the witnesses were: Ms. Denise Amyot (President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Science and Technology Museums Corporation); Mr. Marc Mayer (Director and Chief Executive Officer, National Gallery of Canada); and Mr. Guy Vadeboncoeur (Executive Director and Chief Curator, Stewart Museum).

The following are edited extracts from their opening presentations focusing on specific proposals.

From Denise Amyot:
The first part of our celebration will consist in identifying 150 scientific and technological innovations that have marked our history and changed the life of Canadians, as well as identifying related artifacts and objects. Our museum curators have already begun to identify some of these innovations and artifacts. We will be using social media to ask Canadians to identify the innovations or technologies that have affected them the most. We will also focus on people, past and present. The Canada Science and Technology Museum is home to the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame ... there are 51 members in this pantheon. However, as new members are admitted every year, and given the incredible richness of the scientific and engineering communities in Canada and of their work, our curators believe that it would be entirely warranted to see this number reach 150 by the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
The second aspect of our planned contributions would deal with present places of great scientific and technological interest across the country, and invite Canadians to identify them, and to go out and visit them.
For the third aspect of our strategy we will give thoughtful consideration to our future. ... By making Canadians, especially young Canadians, aware of the fascinating questions that still need to be answered in the exciting new frontiers of science and technology, we may contribute to planting the seeds of future careers in the fertile minds of our young visitors.
From Marc Mayer:
What we're planning for the 150th--I'm very excited about it--is a complete reinstallation of our Canadian permanent collection to integrate not only indigenous art seamlessly into the story that we tell of art-making in Canada, but also photography. With that, we've been in brief preliminary but very enthusiastic discussions with Library and Archives Canada and also with other organizations that can help us present material that we don't have in our collection.
We're also thinking of the 100th anniversary of 1917, an important moment in Canadian art history as well as Canadian history. It's the year of all the great Canadian battles in Europe. It was the year that Tom Thomson died. It was one of his most productive years. Tom Thomson is a very important figure in Canadian art history. For the Group of Seven ... what we call the nationalist landscape painters, 1917 is a very important date for them.
We plan to celebrate this 100th anniversary in a specific way. We want to tell the story of Canada from 1867 to 1917, and that specific exhibition project is called “Invention of a Nation”. This is going to be in five years, and the titles in museum exhibitions tend to change quite a few times before we actually print the ads.
We've been working on an exhibition about art-making in the Second World War to frame within an international context the Canadian project during that period specifically.
From Guy Vadeboncoeur:
2017 will be marked by multiple commemorations. In Montreal, three important events will be celebrated in 2017: the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, and the 150th anniversary of Canada. Government aid that could be made accessible to museums for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation should take into account the precarious situation of most Canadian museums, on the one hand, and their diversity, on the other.
A complete transcript of the hearing is at http://goo.gl/H5hMY


Harry van Bommel said...

This is invaluable information John. Thank you for summarizing it for us. There is so much activity now around the 150th anniversary. It is wonderful to see the commitments of organizations across Canada to this great event. The Canada 150 project specific goal of collecting 1.5 million short and full-length family and community histories complements all of these other projects. Collaboration is a wonderful way to demonstrate the Canadian spirit!

Elizabeth Kipp said...

Interesting and thank you for posting all of this information John. I have been wondering about a 150th Anniversary project for BIFHSGO. One thought that has been ranging through my mind is writing stories (I did one for the 50th Anniversary collection of OGS) but the slant for BIFHSGO would be the trace back into the British Isles. I am certainly not the only one with 100% English ancestry born in Canada! I always feel that "British Isles" peoples get lumped in with everyone labeled "English Canadians" which has to be the worst description of the people of Canada who do not have French or Aboriginal heritage (they are "Canadians" from all over the world who are not French speaking but it doesn't make them English!). Probably 80% of the people called "English Canadians" do not have any British Isles roots at all! It would be nice to see such a project (all electronic) grow within BIFHSGO over the next five years and we could place it lovingly into the Archives as a memory of British Isles peoples in Canada. We are becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the total population and frankly quite unrepresented in multi-cultural activities in Canada.