From Left to Right

It’s Wednesday, which means a new episode of the History Slam over at In this episode, I talk with Brian Thorn about his book From Left to Right: Maternalism and Women’s Political Activism in Postwar Canada. We talk about the book’s origins, the nature of women’s activism on both the left and right of the political spectrum, and the issues supported by those on both sides. We also talk about women’s participation in the political process and the book’s connection to the current events. You can find the full post here.


Blood, Sweat, and Fear

Earlier today over at, the History Slam returned from its winter hiatus. And we came back with a good one as I got to  talk with Jeremy Milloy about his book Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Violence at Work in the North American Auto Industry, 1960-1980. In the episode, we talk about what constitutes violence in the workplace, why he chose to study the auto industry, and the decline of collectivity. We also chat about violence’s role in productivity, how gender and race influence violence, and how universality of these issues. You can find the full post here.

Live Blog from the Continental Cup of Curling

All day Friday I will be live blogging from the Continental Cup of Curling in London, ON

21:18 – Ulsrud just tried to throw one on its side and Shuster did a 1080 on his throw. Entertainment personified.

21:17 – Not that it’s a bad thing.

21:16 – Time for some fun with John Shuster up 8-3 on Thomas Ulsrud after 7. Teams burning rocks, throwing spinners, and a spin-o-rama by Matt Hamilton. This is what happens when teams aren’t allowed to shake unless it’s mathematically impossible to win.

21:07 – That being said, the awareness caused about clubroot and pod shatter is invaluable.

21:06 – On the monitor on the media bench they are showing the TSN feed and I am reminded that the best part of going to live curling is not being subjected to the same 4 ads that they run on a loop after each end.

20:44 – More donuts were delivered to the concourse, but they have gone quickly. Only the unglazed plain remain.

20:26 – On a related note, the Brazilians are in their green jerseys tonight.

20:25 – Team Brazil steals a point in the fifth end and its 3-2 for Canada after 5. The Canadian crowd loudly cheers the steal. That’s a curling crowd.

20:18 – As the TV game hits the fourth end break, the TSN crew stretches their legs by heading to the concourse. As they head down the somewhat swaying scaffolding we’re on, one of them describes the setup as ‘brutal’.

20:07 – Thomas Ulsrud down 5-0 after four playing against the John Shuster and his American Olympic team. Even when down they look happy, but that’s mostly the colourful pants.


19:59 – Brazil down 3-1 after four ends in what has been, by far, the best game they’ve played this week. They probably won’t win, but they are putting up a fight.

19:41 – Matt Hamilton runs across two sheets to shake Trudeau’s hand. He then has a chat with some fans behind the sheet before returning to the game. When will that guy finally come out of his shell?

19:32 – Justin Trudeau makes an appearance on the Team North America bench


19:10 – Four games on the go tonight. Rachel Homan back on the ice for the first time today after a couple big losses yesterday. There is also a re-match of last year’s world championship final between Brad Gushue and Nicholas Edin. And, of course, the Brazilians are trying to stave off elimination in the best-of-5 series for a spot in the world championships.

19:01 – Curling Canada landed on Norway on the spin-the-wheel-play-an-anthem game tonight.

18:34 – To prep the crowd for the evening draw in the arena, a one-man band is cranking out some hits. One fan openly criticizes the music, thus highlighting why we can’t have nice things.

17:58 – Ben Hebert has the crowd in the palm of his hands. When he retires he will get a job on either TSN or Sportsnet calling games with a lot more ease than he throws his in-turn.

17:45 – Kevin Koe talking about Team.Jacobs: “I know they come across a little rough of tv, but they’re good guys.”

17:07 – Between games a big crowd at the Patch (given the weather not much desire to go outside). Plus the Koe team (minus a sick Brent Laing) here for the Up Close and Personal


16:40 – The Brazilians triple their score from last night with a single in the eighth end and its handshakes with an 8-3 score. There may or may not be fans in the stands hoping that the Howard team heads to the Patch between games in the hope that this will make the night game more exciting.

16:32 – Interesting side note from this afternoon’s game – Emma Miskew was the only woman to throw the middle 3 stones for her team. All the other teams had the men throw the middle three. Asked about it, teammate Ben Hebert said that she is a better hitter than him and he is a better sweeper, so it makes more sense for them to have that configuration. Miskew agreed with that assessment.

16:30 – It is a sweep for the North Americans and they take a 9-6 lead in the overall   heading into tonight.

16:11 – On the other sheets, North America is in position to sweep the mixed doubles round. Playing teams whose players don’t speak the same language may be proving to be an advantage for the North Americans.

16:09 – Brazil scores and it’s now 6-2. If there’s one thing we’ve really noticed up here on the media bench is that the Brazilians aren’t relying on their sweepers much. Too many overthrows have really hurt them this afternoon.

16:03 – With Howard up 6-1 in the sixth end, second David Mathers looks like he would rather be anywhere else.

15:50 – John Shuster is playing with Joanne Courtney this afternoon and, despite the fact that he’s a skip, who tend to be pretty mediocre sweepers, has been doing a pretty good job. He also lost about 35 pounds in the past few months in preparation for the Olympics, which seems to be helping today.

15:37 – They have run out of donuts in the concourse. This has the potential to be the story of the afternoon.

15:16 – After three ends Canada is up 3-1 on Brazil is what is, to me, by far the most compelling game on the ice.

14:54 – The Brazilians have changed from their blue shirts to their white shirts for today’s game. Perhaps the fashion alteration has helped with the performance.

14:53 – Team Brazil is playing Glenn Howard in game 2 of a best of 5 series for a spot in the world championships this spring. Howard scored 7 in the first end last night en route to a 15-1 win. This afternoon’s game starts with a blank end.

14:31 – No national anthem this afternoon. With only six countries and 11 draws, we are spared from anthems for 5 draws this week.

13:55 – The morning rain in London has changed to snow – and a somewhat violent snow at that. Look out for the TSN crew to focus on the humidity caused by people coming in with wet boots and coats when talking about the ice this afternoon. I predict it will be given a Bryan Mudryk stand up hit from ice level.

13:25 – With mixed doubles starting in an hour, people are celebrating by having doubles of mixed drinks.

12:41 – Lunch time in London


12:05 – Spoke with Japanese skip Sutsuki Fujisawa after her team’s win over Michelle Englot. Talking about her team’s first Olympic appearance next month, she said they “are so excited” and have lots of support back home. Said it was the country’s first Olympic berth in 20 years and she’s excited for the experience.

11:52 – Talked to Ben Hebert after his team’s 8-4 win and asked if there was a difference between heavy hack and easy board. He smiled and said no: “Just be close to the right weight.”

11:40 – Just got word that WADA is here doing doping tests. Fortunately alcohol isn’t a banned substance so all the players should be fine.

11:23 – Two shots later and De Cruz scores two to cut the lead to 7-4. I guess that’s why I’m up in the press box and they’re going to the Olympics.

11:20 – Peter De Cruz’s Swiss team is down 7-2 and Kevin Koe is sitting 4. Analytically speaking, this is not good for them.

10:59 – Despite some good shots and interesting ends, the crowd has been, let’s say subdued, so far. That must mean that The Patch made some money last night.

10:36 – It’s the fourth-end break for most of the games and it’s pretty even so far. North America with the lead in one, World holds one lead, and the third game is tied.

9:40 – Michelle Englot’s team is playing the Japanese team and is the TSN feature game this morning. That’s mildly surprising. What’s much more surprising is that Vic Rauter is calling the game. He usually takes mornings off, but this will be two straight days of calling all three draws. Is this part of Bryan Mudryk’s scheme to take over the play-by-play duties by slowly wearing Vic out?

9:32 – Because so many countries are represented here, they are playing one national anthem before each draw. This morning it’s the American national anthem and everyone appears to be standing.

9:25 – Practice is over and we are ready to go for day 2. The day starts with Team World leading 5-4 in the overall.



Year in Review (100 Years Later)

One of my favourite new end of year traditions is writing the Year in Review (100 Years Later) post for with Aaron Boyes. This is our fifth year writing the post and, like always, we have a bracket style tournament to determine the year’s most important event. You can catch up on our past tournaments here (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) before checking out this year’s entry, which is sure to entertain and inform.

Live Blog From Roar of the Rings

All day Friday I live blogged from the Roar of the Rings, Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, in Ottawa.

23:18: Jason Gunlaugson showing up in suit might be the most surprising/intriguing thing that has happened all day.

23:10: Winding down 15 hours after it started by listening to Monkeyjunk at the Patch while enjoying a sudsy drink.


22:41: The building clears out quickly after the third extra end of the day. More curling than you paid (or asked) for.


22:36: Mike Harris and Joan McCusker do a segment for Sportsnet. Their booth is at the opposite end from TSN, probably to prevent an Anchorman-type situation.


22:25: Reid Curruthers answers all the questions asked of him in a stand up, straight forward way. Good on him.

22:24: Bottcher says that he is proud of the team and thinks that this event will help the team moving forward. “You never know when you’re going to need to rely on that experience.”

22:18: Never in doubt and that means there are no tie-breakers. You can see Vic Rauter’s smile from across the arena.


Lace Up: A History of Skates in Canada

Originally posted at


For the past three-and-a-half years I have had the pleasure of working with Jean-Marie Leduc and Julie Léger on a book looking at the history of skates. Mr. Leduc is a renowned expert on skates with one of the biggest private collections in the world that has been displayed at museums and exhibitions across the country, including during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. When the opportunity came up a few years ago to work on a book, it seemed to me an interesting idea that would make for a good read.

On November 10, Lace Up: A History of Skates in Canada was released. The book traces the development of skates from bone skates used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years to the skates used by today’s world champions. Through Mr. Leduc’s collection, the book explores how skates and their technological innovations shaped how people got around on ice. At the same time, as skates continued to evolve, new winter sports were invented based on the improved technology. For instance, the development of stop picks on figure skates allowed for the speed, agility, and aerial components required in today’s competitions.

In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Jean-Marie Leduc about Lace Up. We talk about the origins of his extensive skate collection, how he built the collection, and some of his favourite pairs. We also talk about the book, how we put it together, and what readers can expect. If you are in the Ottawa area, you are welcome to join us for the book launch on Tuesday December 5 between 5 and 7 at Alex Trebek Alumni Hall at the University of Ottawa.

The Magnificent Nahanni

Our newest episode of the History Slam was released at yesterday. In this episode I talk with Gordon Nelson about his book The Magnificent Nahanni: The Struggle to Protect a Wild Place. We talk about his geography background, the physical landscape in the park, and the process of establishing a national park. We also discuss Indigenous communities in the North, their involvement in the process, and the traditional ways in which the land has been used. We conclude by talking about Canadians’ affinity for natural landscapes and whether we do enough to protect those landscapes. You can find the full post here.