Sunday, November 23, 2014

A renaissance of interest

At the end of October, I had the pleasure of speaking briefly to the Société d’Histoire de Toronto. The SHT is a petite, dynamic community organization that punches well above its weight. Over the last few years, it has realized the Sentier Partagé/Shared Pathway project along the lower reaches of the Humber; organized a regular series of talks on various historical topics; and conducted scores of guided tours of sites in and around Toronto. Next year, as part of the celebration of 400 years of francophone presence in Ontario, the SHT is re-enacting Étienne Brûlé’s 1615 trip down the Toronto Carrying Place (an expedition which the Société has kindly invited me to join). Ils sont débrouillards, ces amateurs d’histoire! They know how to get things done!
The SHT can take credit for this Shared Path/Sentier Partagé display focusing on Toronto's French heritage. The plaque in the centre of the grove is dedicated to Jean Baptiste Rousseau, Toronto's first European settler, whose house was located near this site.

The SHT is just one of the players behind the growing fascination with Ontario’s early history. The Mississaugas of the New Credit are the host aboriginal nation of the 2015 Pan-Am Games, and plan to highlight Toronto’s Native heritage next summer. The Town of Penetanguishene is restaging Samuel de Champlain’s 1615 visit to Huronia, and the Ontario400 project (run by the provincial government and several other organizations) is happily encouraging and promoting events to commemorate Ontario’s 400 French years...

Then there are the books. Just to mention a few of the most recent and readable:

I am delighted to find my own book in such distinguished company and to play a small part in this renaissance of interest in the history of Southern Ontario.

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