Turns out history is happening in Canada. It’s the next big thing.

It’s not much to look at, this modest paperback, especially with the stickies hanging out the side. Oh, and the Toronto Public Library bar code laying across the first word of the title. But, well, dare I say it? I find Canadians and Their Pasts, an academic study by The Pasts Collective, subversive and exciting. The message here? Contrary to recent reports, history is alive and kicking. Listen: “The vast majority of people everywhere in the country have turned to the past to help them situate themselves in a rapidly changing present, to connect themselves to others, and to fill their leisure hours.” The authors aren’t blowing smoke. They surveyed 3,419 Canadians, interviewing them for an average of 22 minutes each. That process yielded a good number of tables packed with information. Consider only the importance of various pasts: 94 per cent of Canadians view family history as “very important” or “somewhat important.” What’s more, other totals are equally startling: history of Canada, 90 per cent; history of birth country if not Canada-born, 89 per cent; history of ethnic or cultural group, 81 per cent.” The passion begins with family history, with genealogy, and grows from there. The digital revolution is really helping. End result: Canadians are keenly interested in “what makes things happen, or what creates the change . . . why the country is the way it is.” They want to know how, when, and where they fit. Turns out history isn’t dead, after all. It’s the next big thing.

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