Read Who Killed Canadian History? by J.L. Granatstein Online


In the 1960s, A.B. Hodgetts in his groundbreaking "What Culture? What Heritage?" bemoaned the loss of our history. Some 30 years later, in this brilliant and impassioned new evaluation, J.L. Granatstein points to an even more appalling situation in both the educational system and in our daily lives. As he argues so articulately, Canada is one of the few nations in the WestIn the 1960s, A.B. Hodgetts in his groundbreaking "What Culture? What Heritage?" bemoaned the loss of our history. Some 30 years later, in this brilliant and impassioned new evaluation, J.L. Granatstein points to an even more appalling situation in both the educational system and in our daily lives. As he argues so articulately, Canada is one of the few nations in the Western world not to teach its history to its young people and to its new citizens. The result: a nation that does not understand and respect its own past. How bad is the situation? In a 1997 survey at York University's Glendon College, 66% of first-year students could not name a Canadian author, most could not name the first English- and French-speaking Prime Ministers, over 50% could not give the date of Confederation. In a Dominion Institute Poll of the same year, 77% were unaware that Remembrance Day commemorated the end of the First World War and only 10% could identify the Quiet Revolution. What is worse, when history is taught in our schools, it is too often processed through the filter of political correctness. Who is responsible for this unthinking conspiracy to eliminate our history? Granatstein lays the blame with a number of culprits: schools that are too busy teaching trendy subjects, and dealing with the needs of recent immigrants; universities where history has been reduced to a series of arcane subjects; ministries of education that have dropped Canadian history as a required course and approved "dumbed-down" textbooks; the federal government with its misguided multicultural policies; even the media, which should be above political pressures, too often uses history to search for villainy. Granatstein shows that other countries, much older than Canada, have understood how to treat history as a necessary and important condition of existence. He offers wise and reasoned solutions to a problem that undermines our sense of ourselves at a time when national understanding is essential. Parents who want their children well-educated, educators who face difficult decisions, policy makers who balance many needs and all those who care about their country must read this book....

Title : Who Killed Canadian History?
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780006386070
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Who Killed Canadian History? Reviews

  • BrokenTune
    2019-05-08 22:00

    Who Killed Canadian History? was my airplane read on the the way home from a course the other week. I don't know why but I always manage to read non-fiction much better when stuck on a plane or in an airport. The title raised a couple of interested looks from passers-by. Unfortunately, none commented. Unfortunately because the book has the interesting topic of whether Canadian history is at risk of being forgotten because of the prevalence of the US media and its focus on US history as well as a tendency within the Canadian education system to focus on the history of minorities or specialist aspects in history rather than on a general history of Canada. Of course, my knowledge of Canada and its history is pretty non-existent and I have no intention to weigh in on Granatstein's argument. However, I did find his book interesting in that it is easy to follow, thorough, and provoking thoughts about how history, not only in Canada, is recorded and taught. Parts of it reminded me of Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death but this was more in relation to the style of argument which is easy to follow but still conveys a lot of information.I loved that I actually learned a few things along the way, too. So, in short I have no idea whether Granatstein's argument is valid but it did make for entertaining and educational reading.

  • Emily
    2019-05-02 20:43

    "Do not turn immigrants loose to fend for themselves, to struggle alone to master the strange ways of a new and bewilderingly complex society. Do not tell them, do not eve imply, that they can stay East Indian, Somali, Jamaican, German, Chinese, or Chilean and succeed in Canada." (86)Occasionally having some interesting facts around Canadian History, most of the book with written by a grumpy old historian who wants to have his say on why Canada's Multicultral attitude is some sort of shield for the fact we can't write history. There was never a moment in this book where Granatstein feels the need to tell us why Canadian History is important, when, as he repeats, we are a mosaic of other cultures. I'm left with this tiny volume ranting off about unrelated subjects, then coming back in the end to tell us that Canadian history is important because what else do we have better to do?If you want to look for Canadian history, use all the sources you have. Always be aware that there are biased people and there are ways of cutting corners with the whole, entire, and complete, truth. If this book had actually been about Canadian history, or if it hadn't given up with giving statistics and other sources for bloody song lyrics for examples...maybe it could have brought back a point about the Canadian Education system and what we need to do to actual improve people's views on a country which has hardly been around long enough to dedicate one's life to. Read a history book if you want to learn. This book wont tell you anything to better yourself.

  • Alex Stroshine
    2019-05-10 13:38

    An impassioned and punchy plea by one of Canada's foremost historians on the importance and value in understanding our national past. J.L. Granatstein laments the piteous state of Canadian history among Canada's citizens (I read the first edition of this book, published in 1998, but I doubt much has changed since the revised edition was released a decade later). In particular, he decries how Canadians are constantly divided up ethnically, regionally, etc...which makes it impossible to create or maintain a universal Canadian identity. Canada is more than Tim Horton's and hockey. Granatstein does not dismiss the value in Albertans' knowing about their own province's history or of dividing history into distinctive labour, military, political, religious, etc...streams but he is forceful in his call for Canadians to also understand how all of these link together. Surely to offend the SJWs, he questions why Emily Howard Stowe is so lauded simply for being the first female Canadian doctor while Frederick Banting, the inventor of insulin, is ignored. History is so politicized and the politicizers warp and twist the past for their own ideological purposes (Granatstein explores "The Valour and the Horror" debacle but I would point to the awful, atrocious, astonishingly inaccurate Canadian documentary "The Burning Times" about the "genocidal" witch hunts in Europe during the Middle Ages; I was forced to watch it twice, once at Capilano University and once at Simon Fraser University). Granatstein believes contemporary educators (he has sharp words for the child-centric pedagogy that arose in the 1960s) only teach how horrible Canada has been in the past - the European colonizers savagely slaughtered the saintly First Nations, Canada was racist for "interning" (Granatstein disputes most were interned) Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, in the past WERE indeed horrible and tragic, but we always need to pay attention to the historical context instead of judging the past according to our current values (I think we need to keep this in mind especially when thinking about the residential schools).Canadians are not Americans. We do not lionize the Fathers of Confederation like Americans do the Founding Fathers. We zealously embrace multiculturalism whereas the USA prefers to be a melting pot. I think it is actually this "multicultural mania" (Granatstein's words) that encourages Canadians to dismiss the past; until after the Second World War, Canada's history was dominated by white people, usually men (all of our prime ministers have been white; I acknowledge specific incidents such as the KOMAGATA MARU and the use of Chinese workers to build the railway that involved ethnic minorities) so we feel awkward and guilty for having to spend so much time talking about white people. But as a WASP, that doesn't bother me in the slightest. Granatstein ends the book by offering suggestions for how Canadian institutions can facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of the past. At times, Granatstein sounds Neil Postmanesque in his desire for contemporary Canadians to comprehend the past and not fill their minds with useless trivia and distractions.

  • Annie Kate
    2019-04-24 20:48

    A worthwhile overview of history education and history knowledge in Canada, with some recommendations and plenty of finger pointing. Useful for all teachers of Canadian history.

  • Daniel Kukwa
    2019-04-23 14:49

    For the most part, as a high school history teacher, I agree with JL Ganatstein's analysis...especially in the sacrifice of content & chronology at the expense of various "other" bureaucratic & educratic concerns. Occasionally he does come off as a ranty, grumpy old man...and if he could tone that down a bit (and admit that he has just as much of a political agenda as the social historians he excoriates), this slim volume would be even more effective.

  • Navarra
    2019-05-11 16:49

    Sadly, while I agree with two main hypotheses of this book, the premises and arguments to support them are simply so ethnocentric and bigoted that this book will likely be buried in the annals of how ivory tower scholarship can be complete oblivious to the prejudices and racist internalizations of the one’s majority culture, lack of self-criticism of institutional education, and colonial mind-set. As a preamble, I want to say that I believe that First Nations culture and history (oral and otherwise) needs to be provided through educational curricula from K-12 and beyond. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think we should avoid the Western European element of Canadian history. In fact, the minute, piecemeal, scattershot, non-contextual First Nations “Social Studies” that Canadian children are exposed to in school is barely acceptable: not even enough or cohesive enough to be a “token.” It contributes to rather than prevents racist worldviews, and the avoidance Western European history and where these make contact and inform our society feels a bit like a “whitewash of omission.” Maybe if we drop First Nations crumbs and avoid talking about the European portions of history, we can dupe everyone and not have to face up to our history. It takes a very gullible or blind person not to see that most of the miraculous progress of modern history has been thanks to the exploitation of a lot of people, other animals, and natural resources, and this exploitation is rarely mild. Yes, I'm a hypocrit. I love my running water, electricity, and laptop. But I purposefully don't live as "high on the hog" as I could by any means and take deep and purposeful account of my environment footprint.The two arguments I agree with in this book are that: there is a state of wholesale ignorance of Canadian history, and this is due to the failure of decent provincial governance in the allocating of funds to education. My person suspicion is that the decrease in education funding in a province like Saskatchewan is that these funds get syphoned to corrupt and crony-ist “development” projects (i.e. bribing or tax break luring of large corporate business to the province). Combine this extreme cut-back in educational funding, a combative, unjust treatment of teachers (over-relying on them to provide all sorts of social services beyond educating), and the allowance of pseudo-scientific educational objectives and strategies to prevail has led to a gutting of quality education in Canada. While perhaps some centralized standards need to be injected into the process, I realize that that will be fought by provincial power-brokers tooth and claw. I’m a little afraid that the peak age of public education for the majority North American is over.It was my intention to go through the book thoroughly to pick out the arguments I found to prove my point, but I just cannot bring myself to wade through it. There was even at least one argument that was a flagrant example of a logical fallacy, which is shocking considering that this man is highly educated and has received several awards for scholarship (not to mention is an Order of Canada member). This is devastating and disappointing because I whole-heartedly agree with him on page 5 when he states:“As a historian I believe that an understanding of our history is important in and of itself. But history has a public purpose…” It does indeed, and at the same time that little, scatter-shot First Nations “social studies” and no other history in systematic integration for purpose of fully understanding economic, social, colonial, technological context and forces is a huge gap that leads to adverse long-term national circumstances. When the public is poorly educated and cannot engage in critical thinking with a full range of logical tools and a variety of theoretical filters, they became easy to dominate by forces that decrease national wealth, long-term social and economic wellbeing. Granatstein’s repugnant arguments reach the height of repugnance when he rationalizes the internment and financial destruction of Ukrainians, Germans and Japanese during the World Wars. I’m certain from the above evidence of his cultural and social obliviousness that he wouldn’t see the hypocrisy of these arguments while rightfully assuming that the Germans ought to be fought, censured, and fully denounced for their internment of Jews, Gypsies, Polish persons, the disabled, etc. (even though it’s not a direct comparison considering the level of heinous and genocidal acts of the Nazis during WWII). The making of excuses for this treatment of innocent minority immigrant populations is simply moral bankruptcy writ large.His arguments against “multiculturalism” are misplaced as he hasn’t been able to divine the difference between multiculturalism and post-modern theoretical drivel that sadly has trespassed beyond literary theory--where yet it has questionable value--to social or scientific subjects, within which is has zero value. However, the effects of taking postmodern arguments to their brutally illogical conclusions haven’t been observed and endured until relatively recently, and this book was written when post-modernism had just emerged.

  • AskHistorians
    2019-05-07 13:43

    If you want to go in to any depth in Canadian history, reading Granatstein is a must. This is one of his more controversial books, it's always under fire from other scholars, which makes it an interesting read about Canadian history.

  • Rowena
    2019-05-15 14:57

    Great book! Reaffirmed to me the importance of History.

  • Teghan
    2019-05-15 18:50

    Granatstein is one of the most prominent voices in Canadian Studies and one of my favourites. This book is one of my most used books I have and its a joy to read.

  • Wes Pue
    2019-05-12 15:47

    He's a smart guy who goes to great effort to find rifts rather than bridge amongst historians. IMHO.

  • Ella Weigt
    2019-05-01 19:40

    Very good but boring.

  • Peter
    2019-04-23 16:37

    On the back cover, TGAM's Roger Hall called it "a classic, timely polemic about how little we know of our past". Agreed. That was its first effect on me. I know the British North America act, and that makes me a minority among friends I polled as I read through the book. It's definitely also a bit of a rant. If I may summarize, JLG holds that a unitive Canadian history is nowhere to be found b/c 1) the fed gov't abdicated education to the provinces, who have baldly taught regionalism, 2) the most seminal points in defining Canadian identity are being stamped out in history's retelling, thanks to the march of political correctness across the intellectual landscape, on a related point #3) professional historians have contented themselves largely to write niche histories about various marginalized groups, in an overcorrection of 'Great Man' historiography, 4) multiculturalism, advanced on slipshod [and one almost hears the author say 'liberal'] principles, have rendered Canada impotent in advancing her own history over against the clamouring of more recent immigrants and their precious perspectives. I largely agree with his analysis. Canada, in the times that it stamped its own identity on a global stage, was of British (predominately WASP) stock with a sizeable French contingent. But her more recent stance is to privilege as many groups as possible whose numbers are great. So why would a history that seems to be about 'white Canada' (if I may be reductive) be as embraced as a history that pulls at different strands, which portions of our variegated polity can identify with? I don't think JLG has prevailed in trying to shame the professional historians into writing more popular histories, and the education system is probably too messy to bother with. I think a resurrection of Canadian history has to start upstream of these concerns. If Canada will soon be 'post-nationalist' as they say, with only its historical Anglo-Franco poles to anchor it, then a history that wholeheartedly learns what her denizens have done would do just well to furnish it with a unique identity. It will be at some points French/Scottish/English, then Ukrainian/Polish, then South Asian/East Asian. But they will be Canadian. We will likely end up reading much of our history differently than those men read it when they were living it, but what else is new? For Canada to downplay her Western European heritage would be to cheaply pander to the spirit of the age, but to artificially constrain her to Western European nationalism would be shortsighted--and ultimately unworkable. As the descendants of immigrants filter into all the socioeconomic strata, the shared of experience of winter-heavy, near-American life will help. But a more proactive forging of a Canadian identity will rest on negotiating how we hold on to our past. I guess job one is knowing our past, so to that end, JLG wrote a helpful book for me.There. Now I, too, have rambled my thoughts about Canadian history.

  • anenko
    2019-05-10 15:40

    I read this ages ago, so my memory is rather fuzzy on the details. There are some interesting points made in the book--some I even agree with--but I can't truly support Granatstein's argument, as I have always been more interested in social history over the biographies of leaders, and the dates and statistics of wars.

  • Stephanie
    2019-04-30 18:46

    This is an interesting book, and a must read for any history students. This book discusses the past a future of history in Canada. While extremely critical and harsh on social history and social historians, Granatstien does offer some great insights into the future of historical studies in Canada as well as the future of historical education in Canada.