A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

Miss Grove’s Time Capsule 1843-46 – Reading Between the Lines of Fiction

By John Grove

I found Canadian history in public school to be extraordinarily boring. The names of explorers and the dates when they discovered a new region of Canada seemed to be the entire focus.

The real question is “Can a teacher make the subject of history interesting for all of his or her students”?

You can skip my rambling and jump ahead to:

Dusting off the Time Capsule

Works of fiction have provided entertainment and escape into different worlds for generations.

We make movies that bring our strangest imaginations to life. Yet, we’ve written textbooks (generally boring to the average reader) to teach our children.

What I recommend is that we take a closer look at some of the treasures from our past and ask students to read between the lines. Most Canadian adults aren’t aware of the numerous works of fiction written by early Canadians that are now becoming more available on-line through the diligent efforts of Universities and historical societies.

There are also a number of non-fiction items in local libraries that a teacher could utilize to coax interest in history from the local perspective.

Important global events that took place at the same time as local ‘less’ important events can be highlighted by skillful ‘time association’, but what I believe is missing from most history lessons is the ‘feel’, or full understanding of what the living conditions were like – what real people: One’s own ancestors thought and did in early Canada.

Personal journals and diaries that are passed down through a family lineage rarely get the exposure as historical works, yet many contain not only the dates and facts of historically significant events, but provide an insight into how the people of the time reacted as well. Many of these early journals are stored in attics or basements and haven’t seen the light of day for ages.

Now that we’ve got the means to take an ancestor’s thoughts and show them to the world on the internet, it’s time they be brought out and displayed for the world to see and learn from.