Historian of the city, politics, and society
I’m Public Outreach Coordinator and a contributing editor at ActiveHistory.ca, a website created by the community of Canadian historians to connect their work with the wider public and the importance of the past to current events. Today ActiveHistory averages 30,000 hits per month, and new blog posts, podcasts and papers go up on the site nearly every day. Our authors are contacted regularly by the media to provide historical perspectives on the present. In 2016 ActiveHistory was selected by a jury of public historians from across the country as recipient of the Canadian Historical Association’s Public History Prize.
Over the years I’ve published a number of opinion or research pieces on the site, and worked with dozens of authors in an editorial capacity. Follow the links below to read my contributions from the past few years.
July 26, 2021. “Saving Chinatown, 1971 to 2021.” A post that looks at Toronto’s 1970s Dragon Mall in the context of today’s efforts to revitalize Canadian Chinatowns.
April 15, 2019. “Confronting Canadian Migration History.” A new open-access publication, which I edited as part of the Active History ebook series.
January 7, 2019. “A Canadian Immigration Syllabus.” With Laura Madokoro. A collaboratively-created syllabus designed to present key themes and topics in Canadian migration history.
May 10, 2018. “Active History in 2018: Taking stock.” A look back at an exciting year for the Active History project.
March 7, 2018. “Digital History in the Classroom: Mapping Montreal Migration Stories.” A look at a digital history project I worked through with my students in Fall 2017.
May 26, 2016. “What does Canadian history look like? Active History at the 2016 CHA.” With Tom Peace. An overview of some of the prominent themes & events at the 2016 meeting of the Canadian Historical Association.
December 10, 2015. “How Did the Urban Reformers Change Toronto?” A review essay that asks some questions about the 1970s urban reform.
September 28, 2015. “Exploring New Directions in Active History.” With Tom Peace. A post that raises some of the big questions we want to explore with the 2015 New Directions in Active History Conference.
June 29, 2015. “The Die-In: A Short History.” A post that looks back at nearly fifty years of playing dead as a protest tactic.
May 4, 2015. “Toronto vs. Montréal: A Short History.” After a friendly meeting between the mayors of Toronto and Montréal, is the rivalry between Canada’s two largest cities on the wane?
January 26, 2015. “The king in a car park: Digging up Richard III.” The saga of the discovery of Richard III’s remains in the city of Leicester, UK.
October 6, 2014. “Feeling the City: Getting at the Historical Sights and Sounds of Downtown.” Looks at how our senses mediate the city, and how historians try to access past sensory experience.
July 14, 2014. “Urban Transformations: An Avenue for Academic Work in the Community.” With Jay Young. Discusses the Urban Transformations symposium we organized at the Wychwood Barns in June 2014.
June 17, 2014. “An Idea Whose Time Has Come: A City Museum for Toronto.” With Jay Young. Discussion of an exciting new Museum of Toronto initiative in historical context.
April 28, 2014. “The Value of Thinking Big: Experimenting with Pedestrian Space in Toronto, 1970s to 2014.” A look at a new proposal to close Toronto’s Bloor Street in light of 1970s attempts to create a downtown pedestrian mall.
November 4, 2013. “Yonge Love: Crowd-sourcing the History of Toronto’s Main Drag.” A post that discusses a public history project on Yonge Street that I’m involved in.
September 3, 2013. “Into the Secret Archive: An Interview with the Authors of Secret Service.” A conversation about the problems and possibilities of working with the most restricted government files.
May 6, 2013. “‘American Commune’: two views of a documentary about the 1970s counterculture.” With Colin Coates. Two short essays around a 1970s Tennessee commune called The Farm.
March 7, 2013. “Development, Community, and Citizen Activism in Toronto’s Kensington Market: 1960s and 2013.” An essay tracing the history of community mobilization against development in Toronto’s Kensington Market.
December 4, 2012 (re-posted August 26, 2013). “Municipal Conflicts of Interest in Canada, Old and New.” In this article, one of the most popular activehistory.ca posts of 2012-3, I provide a short history of municipal conflicts of interest leading up to the case of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in 2012.
September 19, 2012. “Active History on Stage: Party People at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.” A review of a thoughtful play about the Black Panthers and Young Lords movements of the 1960s and 1970s.