CBC’s Digital Archives

As a social studies teacher I have sometimes found it hard to find really good Canadians sources for our history. Tonight I landed back on CBC’s extensive digital archives.  I had looked at this  quite a while ago and found a few things of interest, but tonight I cast a slightly more detailed eye on it. First off if you have never visited it, it is a fantastic source of records for events in Canadian history. CBC has plumbed both its television and radio archives in a way that we can help students see historic events as they were seen at the time.  As an example, in the past, I’ve used the archives to look back at the Seal Hunt in Canada, to give students a taste of how it has evolved, and how it was portrayed in the 1970s and 1980s.  My interest tonight revolved around looking for ideas dealing with the War Measures Act and there was definitely some including Prime Minster Trudeau’s 20 minute speech justifying the invocation of the War Measures Act in October 1970, as well as some background pieces (like this one) on the FLQ.  Disappointingly their video and audio recordings are not embeddable although you certainly can link to them.

CBC has also put together folders of information in a section for teachers.  They have folders that cover a variety of topics, and that are arranged in several different categories including assignments, web quests, and projects.  I would love to comment on these but the CBC server seemed to be having some difficulties tonight (its search tool was also out of service which was too bad), but there seems to be some potential there for anybody looking to examine great Canadians (Maurice Richard, Terry Fox, etc.) or various pages from our past (including Africville and the Red Ensign) including what I what I was looking for.  Again there seemed to be lots organized but it was frustratingly unavailable tonight.  I will have to go back and examine it in the near future.

You can also subscribe to a newsletter that lists what is new in the archives, and of course you can create an account (called ‘Your Archives’).  Overall, even with my frustrations tonight, the CBC Digital Archive has great potential for teachers, and CBC seems to constantly be adding things to it.  This is especially true for Canadian teachers, but also for anyone else looking for the Canadian point of view during important historical events.

As an aside I went digging a bit farther on YouTube and found that CBC actually has its own channel on it, where they have also been posting current and archival material.  The advantage with it being on YouTube is that it can be embedded if you want.  So here is one of the more famous interviews given by Prime Minister Trudeau after the invocation of the War Measures Act, his famous, ‘Just watch me’ interview.  I had actually never seen the full seven minute-plus interview before, but it is all here (Of course YouTube is not always available in every school).  I find it a fascinating trip back to a time when a head of the government could actually be interviewed in an unscripted fashion for a whole seven minutes.  I can’t imagine our current Prime Minister ever doing this, and I can’t think of another leader that would leave themselves open to this.

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