Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Canadian history boring or is it just the names?

You're gone, you're history, you're in the archives
The name Historica-Dominion Institute always sounded like a temporary offshoot of the merger of the two organizations. Now they are renaming.
Stephen Smith, Chairman of the Board of The Historica-Dominion Institute, announced today that effective September 3, 2013 , the organization will change its name to Historica Canada.
But I can't say the new name sets my pulse aflutter.  Quick: between "Historica Canada," "Canada's History," "Heritage Canada," and "Canadian Heritage," how many Canadians could quickly explain what differentiates each one? Or keep their audience awake while they tried? Which one is a government department, now?

We are in a time of great identifiers.  Think of Apple, Google, Amazon: distinct, quirky, unforgettable. Why do the organizations pitching Canadian history and civics as lively and dynamic opt for bland when they name themselves?

I know that internet porn filters made "The Beaver" unsustainable. But would not any of these organizations have been more distinct and more top-of-mind as, I don't know, something like Orca, or Matapedia Foundation, or the Lightfoot Institute, or McClung? (Kudos to The Dorchester Review -- more vivid, more rooted than, say, The Canadian Review of Right-Wing Stuff.)

Have to say, though, it isn't just the history/heritage world. The Canadian Auto Workers and the Paperworkers are about to ask us to call them "Unifor."

Well, good luck to Historica Canada, anyway. We may spend time explaining it is not a government department, but it will still do good work.
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