2017: Department of History’s double celebration

Posted on Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Expo 67 in Montreal: a pivotal moment in modern Canadian history. Photo: D J Berson

By Fidèle Lavigne

There’s no shortage of festivities in the nation’s capital this year to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. As for uOttawa’s Department of History, it has another reason to celebrate in 2017 — its 60th anniversary. In six decades, the department has taught more than 6,400 students, who now shine in areas as diverse as politics, business, communications and research in the humanities.

On April 29, the department hosted an event to mark its founding on the same date in 1957. Kicking off Alumni Week, a lively panel discussion entitled “History in the Making for 60 Years!” drew more than 100 professors, students, alumni and friends. Afterward, we asked some of the history buffs present, all with connections to the department, to name a favourite pivotal moment since Confederation.


Seven momentous events since Confederation

Assembly line at the Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ontario (1953). Photo: National Film Board of Canada. PhotothèqueLibrary and Archives Canada, PA-205816

Industrialization of the early 20th century
“Workplaces and domestic tasks were profoundly reshaped.”
— Suzanne Beauvais, assistant curator at the Canada Science and Technology Museum and alumna

Advent of the welfare state after the Second World War
“The government undertook measures that aimed to ensure a certain level of security and social well-being for the entire population.”
— Peter Bischoff, professor

Expo 67 
“It’s considered to be the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century. Many of us would have loved to be a part of it!’’
— Hugues Théorêt, professor

Abolition of the death penalty, July 1976
“This is an important moment in the history of modern Canada, because it shows the importance of human rights to Canadian society, even though there will always be room for improvement.”
— Sylvie Perrier, professor and director of the department

Election of René Lévesque in Quebec, November 1976
“For the first time, people realized that a province could leave Confederation. It is certainly an event that marked an entire generation.”
— Michel Prévost, uOttawa chief archivist and alumnus

Patriation of the Constitution and adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, April 1982
“It guarantees equality for all Canadians and has provided women, First Nations, Inuit and Métis, people with disabilities and many others the right to challenge laws and programs that impede their rights.”
— Jo-Anne McCutcheon, professor

Signing of the Constitution Act in 1982
“From this point, Canada developed a new formula to amend its constitution.”
— Louka Morin-Tremblay, student

Queen Elizabeth with then-prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau signing the Constitution (1982). Photo: Robert Cooper / Library and Archives Canada, PA-141503


The 60th anniversary celebrations of the Department of History continue throughout 2017. Join us for many stimulating events throughout the year.

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