“Honestly, I don’t recall anything. But I think there were lots of troubles between French and English Canadians… ” says one 17 year old student when asked to recount the history of Canada. Like many of her counterparts, Annie was initially baffled by the task of writing a historical narrative of Canada because, as she put it, “I don’t recall anything”. Public surveys periodically remind Canadians of the catastrophic state of historical knowledge among youth. “Canada is failing history,” as one newspaper even put it.
“the museum experience is shaped by the exhibition content but is “identity-driven” (Anderson & Gosselin, 2008; Dicks, 2000; Falk, 2009; Leinhardt & Knutson, 2004; Robert, 1997; Rounds, 2006; Smith, 2006). The specific contribution of historical exhibitions to the visitor’s identity could be viewed as providing additional material (new images, new stories, new references) to build their own personal histories in relation to and through larger collective narratives. This idea finds resonance with the hypothesis of historian and lead researcher of the Canadians and their Past, Jocelyn Letourneau. The essence of his argument is that Canadians’ interest and engagement with the collective past finds its prime motivation in the construction of self-identity and that for this reason, individuals tend to project their personal narrative and historicity into the larger historical picture, rather than the opposite (Letourneau, 2009).”