By the way

Published October 10, 2012 by A.J.B. Johnston

On 20 October 2012, the “Voice of the People” section of the Halifax Chronicle Herald published this letter from me.

I am intrigued by the federal government’s intention to re-cast the Canadian Museum of Civilization and give it a focus on Canadian history. That could be welcome news. Canadian history deserves to be better known by Canadians, no argument here. Yet at the same time as the CMC is being touted as a showcase for our collective national history, we are seeing the same federal government drastically limiting the public’s access to its system of national historic sites at the local level. I hope no one seriously thinks they can tell the story of Fort Anne, Grand Pré or Louisbourg better from a museum in Gatineau than at those places themselves. Those particular Parks Canada sites, and many more across the country, are to my way of thinking where such stories are best told. Then again, it’s not just government officials behind this trend to centralize the complex, rich history of this land. The general public, with its declining visitation to national historic sites, set the stage. Revenue generation is the new master, in history as in everything else. So here’s hoping that the emerging trend can be reversed. Along with eating local, maybe people will start visiting the nearby places that shaped this land. History is like democracy; its foundation is at the grassroots.

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