Sunday, June 23, 2013

Canadian history still not dead yet

Frank Rockland, author of Fire on the Hill, comments on my post about Canadian journalism's go-to cliche:
I agree about your statement about commentators leading with Canadian history being boring. The National Post has taken a similar vein.
 Shouting from the roof tops that you are not boring or trying to prove that Canadian history is not boring is, I think, not the best approach to solving a problem. If one exsists in the first place. It turns people off and puts them on the defensive because they feel it is now a duty rather than a pleasure. They will not inclined to search for or read Canadian history if they are constantly told how boring it is or worst how not boring it is.
 I do believe that Canadian history is in better shape then most people want to believe. For example, 95% of the Canadian population has never heard about the Ross Rifle and the controversy that surrounded it. However, if you do a web search for the Ross Rifle the results are impressive. Anything from, magazine articles, YouTube videos, discussion forums, web sites, and web pages. One of the web pages is mine by the way. These are ordinary folks who have a passion for the topic and have spent considerable time and effort on it. This is not an isolated case. Canadian history content available on the Web not only from various museum’s, historical, and heritage organizations, professional historians but from amateur historians, history buffs and enthusiasts on various topics truly is astounding.
 Lately I’ve been reading, it is not an easy read, Jerome de Groot’s book Consuming History, Historian and heritage in contemporary popular culture. Most of the elements that he touches on I currently see when looking at Canadian history. The main weakness, and the most visible, is there are very few Canadian historical fiction novels, TV shows such as the Murdoch Mysteries and movies such as Passchendaele.
 This is not an easy gap to fill, especially with TV and movies since they are very expense to produce. Creating novels is less expensive, but you still need to spend years of consistent effort to develop an audience. This takes time, effort, and money to do. To succeed writers need to create Canadian historical novels that would be good reads. The main purpose is to entertain. If the reader learns something great; otherwise, they’ve spent a couple of hours well wasted.