Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mate

During 1980’s Republican convention, backroom negotiations and media speculation over a running mate dominated

Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mateIn July 1980, U.S. Republicans met in Detroit to formally nominate their ticket for the upcoming presidential election. It wasn’t supposed to be an eventful gathering. Ronald Reagan, the former movie star and California governor, had vanquished an array of opponents during the primary season and was thus assured of the top spot. The only…

How did we become so untrusting?

A look at the last 50 years shows a great deal of social change – and a great deal we should have misgivings about

How did we become so untrusting?I’ve been challenged by the content on social media (and televised news) of late. Several friends and colleagues are recoiling from it as well. It all feels so dramatic, so polarizing, so one-sided. How did we get here? How did we become those people? Did we stop trusting everyone suddenly or did the feeling creep…

Floyd Patterson: the boxer who came back

Written off as a hopeless case, he brought a ruthless, coiled fury to the ring, taking back the world championship

Floyd Patterson: the boxer who came backOn June 20, 1960, 25-year-old Floyd Patterson did something that hadn’t been done before. He became the first man to ever regain the world heavyweight boxing championship. Others had tried – including legendary figures like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis – but none had succeeded. Conventional wisdom speculated that perhaps it couldn’t be done. Although…

Past becomes present for history grad who studied Spanish flu

Why the COVID-19 pandemic feels familiar to Suzanna Wagner, who wrote her thesis on Canadian nurses in the First World War

Past becomes present for history grad who studied Spanish fluDefending her master’s thesis just two days before COVID-19 forced the University of Alberta to close was strange enough. Receiving a call from the Edmonton Journal for her take on the pandemic was downright surreal. “It’s really odd as a historian to suddenly have people in the current media asking, ‘Tell us what happened in the past,’” said…

The Habsburgs: Rise and fall of Europe’s premier dynasty

They were canny, enduring and keen on expansion. In the end, however, the empire couldn't survive the First World War

The Habsburgs: Rise and fall of Europe’s premier dynastyThanks to a voluble professor of European history at University College Dublin, the Habsburgs first piqued my curiosity in the early 1960s. Then the interest lay dormant until a chance 2011 visit to the imperial crypt in Vienna’s Capuchin monastery. In operation since 1632, the crypt contains the tombs of more than 140 Habsburg royalty.…

Digging for the bones of a lost Irish hero

Digging for the bones of a lost Irish heroThe Spanish city of Valladolid has an Irish historical connection. It was there that Red Hugh O’Donnell was buried in 1602. Now, thanks to an archaeological dig aimed at finding his long-lost tomb, the connection is back in the news. Known as Red Hugh because of his hair colour, he was the kind of historical…

We all need the moral courage to confront racism

We need to acknowledge the impact of racist myths. There is no good or bad race of people, there are just people

We all need the moral courage to confront racismA video is circulating on social media of a white woman in New York City calling 911 to report being threatened by “an African American man.” The truth is that the woman was allowing her dog to wander in a bird-watching section of Central Park and the man asked her to put her dog on…

Finding new value – and a great back story – in an old film

D-Day the Sixth of June was based on an award-winning novel by Canadian journalist Lionel Shapiro

Finding new value – and a great back story – in an old filmTurner Classic Movies marked the American Memorial Day weekend by showing a string of war films, one of which was D-Day the Sixth of June. Released in 1956 and based on a novel published the previous year, I’d seen it at the local cinema in Dublin, Ireland, more than 60 years ago. Back then, I’d…

Celebrating the human spirit can change the world

The Specials helped calm racial tensions and drew broad attention to the unjust imprisonment of Nelson Mandela

Celebrating the human spirit can change the worldIt has long been debated whether you can change the world with a song. If it’s not possible, one band came incredibly close. The Specials (or The Special AKA) rose to prominence in England in the late 1970s and achieved international fame in the early 1980s.  Their sound fused the music of Jamaican immigrants with…

We can’t obliterate history, no matter how hard we try

If historical figures with 2020 attitudes could be found, renaming familiar streets and place names wouldn’t be so daunting

We can’t obliterate history, no matter how hard we tryWinnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is determined to pursue his name game – renaming, removing and rewriting history. Among his targets is Bishop Grandin Boulevard – the mayor doesn’t like the late Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin’s attitudes. If Bowman succeeds, the next logical renaming would be St. Vital – also named after Grandin, who was an important…
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