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Ignoring Ottawa’s historical identity

Do you know your local history?

Our minds all flash back to grade school, where we learned about Jacques Cartier and his epic discoveries, or the battle of the Plains of Abraham, or the settlement of the west. We remember our national history because it is engrained in us as children, and because it contributes to our national identity.

But how much do we know about the history of the street we live on, our communities, or our city?

Very little, and I believe there are reasons for that:

  1. Lack of local history curriculum in schools – With a provincial mandated curriculum, local history gets forgotten because it is too difficult to mandate such lessons at the provincial level.  National, and even provincial history is taught, while local history is forgotten.
  2. National history gets prominence in National Capital – With all the national museums calling Ottawa home, local history plays second fiddle to the national stage.
  3. Ottawa consists of many smaller communitiesOttawa grew over the past 185 years, and only came to its current size through in 2001, as it amalgamated all the towns around it. Because of this, a central museum was never established, but instead many small community ones.
  4. Trouble identifying with the historical narrative – It has been my experience that many people who live in Ottawa are not originally from here. They move here from all over the country and the world to study or work for the federal government and IT industries. With many people being from somewhere else (including me), it can sometimes be hard for them to have an interest in the history of the city and region.

So what can we do about that? If we put the history out where people can see it, and show them that local history is just as interesting as our national history. History tells a story of how we got to where we are today, regardless of whether that is the national story or the local story.

This blog will work to demonstrate why this history is ignored, and why it is important and interesting too. Stay tuned!

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About Greg Markey

Greg is a social media and digital marketing consultant who loves writing about business, technology, innovation and startups. He holds a degree in political science and history from St. Francis Xavier University, as well as a diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three kids..

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