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French

Insider’s Scoop: The Epic Canadian History Hall

By Joseph Mathieu

This Canada Day, a new permanent addition to the Canadian Museum of History will mark a turning point in the way our country tells stories. The Canadian History Hall, a project five years in the making, will unveil three new galleries showcasing the unsung, much-loved, and even hard-to-swallow aspects of Canada. Described as the largest and most comprehensive exhibition on Canadian history, President and CEO of the Museum Mark O’Neill said the institution hopes that, “Canadians will come away with a new understanding of who we are today and with a new appreciation of the debt we owe to those who came before us.”

On July 1, stroll down the Passageway with mirrored silhouettes of 101 familiar Canadian symbols into the nexus of the  Hall. Inside a giant rotunda called the Hub, visitors will find themselves on a massive map of the country, all 10 million square kilometres of it — a perfect launching pad to learn new things about the land we know as Canada.

The Passageway into the Canadian History Hall. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The Passageway into the Canadian History Hall. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

Named for the donors to the ambitious project, each of the three galleries showcases the story of Canada through multiple perspectives. The Rossy Family Gallery covers the dawn of human civilization until the year 1763. The era debuts with the Anishinabe creation story on a starry widescreen that depicts, “a view of how the world fits together, and how human beings should behave in it.”

The Anishnaabe entrance to the Rossy Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The Anishnaabe entrance to the Rossy Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The first gallery winds into a treasury of weapons, tools, and personal possessions that display the industry and creativity of Indigenous peoples across the continent. Alongside archaeological evidence of First Nations activity as far back as the Ice Age, there is a fossilized piece of a mammoth jaw and teeth, an intricate diorama of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, and a game to see how every piece of the bison was used to make something useful.

Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

View from the Rossy Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

You can meet the ancestors of the Inuit, the Thule, who proudly wore jewellery of copper and bear teeth, as well as stone facial piercings and hairstyles that may have been used to convey status. An impressive display of facial reconstruction technology introduces the bead family of Shíshálh, four family members of high standing who lived approximately 4,000 years ago.

The differences in habits and heritage of many different Indigenous peoples is elaborated with great detail. One display compares the Indigenous names alongside the simplified traditional European names attributed to them, like the Haudenosaunee, or Five Nations Confederacy (now Six Nations), which Europeans simply called the Iroquois.

Astrolabe thought to belong to Samuel de Champlain. Canadian Museum of History, 989.56.1, IMG2017-0092-0005-Dm

Astrolabe thought to belong to Samuel de Champlain. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The roles of Frenchman Samuel de Champlain played in the history of Canada were many. He was known as an observant chronicler, a diplomat and a soldier, and ultimately a settler whose statue on Nepean Point depicts him holding his famous astrolabe that went missing. A corner exhibition dedicated to the man known as the “Father of New France” houses an astrolabe that may or may not have belonged to him, but it was discovered along a route he is known to have travelled.

View from the Fredrik Eaton Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

View from the Fredrik Eaton Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The second Gallery, named for the Fredrik Eaton Family, covers Colonial Canada until the eve of the First World War. Several aspects of life in Canada changed with the introduction of guns, horses, and disease, while a century-long conflict between English and French Canada raged over dominance of the fertile land. The integration of French and then British rule forever changed the lives of Indigenous peoples.

The Métis of the Northern Plain were one of the first people of mixed heritage to choose a flag: a blue banner with a white infinity loop. Some see the symbol as two peoples meeting to become one, while others identify with its message of hope that the Métis nation will never fade. There are also mentions of the growing reputation of Montreal as a world-class city, the complications with living next to the United States, and the trending fashion of hooded overcoats, known as “capots” or “canadiennes”, during the French regime.

View from Gallery 2. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

View from the Fredrik Eaton Family Gallery. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

The third gallery is the size of the other two combined, named after donors Hilary M. Weston and W. Galen Weston, and it covers the period that is currently being written: Modern Canada. From 1914 until 2017, the mezzanine overlooking the Hub has no chronology, just a diverse layout reflecting the complicated nature of Canada.

The push for independence and prosperity, the interwoven story of First Nations told in their own words, and the identity of Canada on the world stage all play major roles in the top-floor gallery. The floor is filled with memorabilia like Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope t-shirt, Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s Montréal Canadiens jersey, and Lester B. Pearson’s 1957 Nobel Peace Prize. How Quebec nationalism has shaped not only the province but the rest of the country is examined from province’s Quiet Revolution to patriotic separatism that almost bubbled over during two referenda in 1980 and 1995.

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A T-shirt worn by Terry Fox during his 1980 Marathon of Hope. Photo: Canadian Museum of History.

There are painful panels to read that shine a light on the cultural suppression of Inuit and First Nations culture for many decades. One large pull quote from our founding Prime Minister John A. McDonald stands out: “Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence.” Right around the corner are the colourful and vibrant art pieces in painting and dress that only the Haida of British Columbia could design. The #IdleNoMore movement also takes a prominent display amongst the sometimes uncomfortable history of the past federal stance on Indigenous peoples and their fight for respected rights.

“The Hall is unapologetic in its exploration of Canada’s history, depicting the moments we celebrate along with the darker chapters,” said O’Neill. “Chapters that absolutely must be told if we are to offer accurate account of this country’s past.”

Visitors will find conflicting images of a country far older than its 150 years of Confederation. The main message of the extensive and sometimes controversial Hall is that Canada is a great mix of conflict, struggle, and loss while also of success, accomplishment, and hope.

Hot Dining: Pretty Patisserie

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

Sweet delicacies are having a moment in the sun, but for Nathalie Gautier and her husband Gilles, Instagram-worthy desserts are not a fleeting trend but a representation of years of hard work spent mastering time honoured techniques. At bustling Main Street bakery, A L’Epi de Ble, these French ex-pats bring a slice of Provence to the prairies. Loaves are made with the traditional process—no preservatives, dairy, or gelatin, and never shortening—and the pastry case holds treasures like colourful macarons and eclairs stuffed with rich pastry cream. With her broad smile and lilting French accent, Nathalie herself is part of this cozy nook’s charm. 1757 Main St, 204‑334‑2526

Hot Dining: French Twist

Photo by Ian McCausland.

Photo by Ian McCausland.

It has been a long journey leading chef Cam Tran of Café Ce Soir to his petit Portage Avenue bistro. A child of Vietnamese immigrants, who escaped their country by boat, Tran began working in kitchens with his father as a teenager. A winding career path eventually led him to move to France to study as a pastry chef at the Michelin starred Gastronomicom near Montpellier. Today, in his welcoming 23-seat café, chef Cam whips up marvelous pastry creations, crème brûlées infused with flavour, and classic French cuisine. A member of the slow food movement, this passionate chef makes everything from scratch in the kitchen with local ingredients. 937 Portage Ave, 204‑414‑7647, cafecesoir.ca

3 Places to get Great Food & Beer in Canmore

Photo: Courtesy of The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company

Photo: Courtesy of The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company

By Where Staff

Canmore has a great dining scene. Check out three of our favourites below and keep an eye on our dining blog through April for extensive coverage of the Canmore Uncorked food festival!

Brewery Tour with Benefits

Grizzly Paw Brewing Company beers have a solid local following. See why during Friday to Sunday tours of their 20,000-square foot Canmore microbrewery. Learn how hops, malt, mash, wort and tun become your favourite beer, and sample their tasty regular and seasonal brews.

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Hot Art: Unique and Unusual at the International Digital Miniprint Exhibition

International Digital Art Miniprint Exhibition. Photo credit: "Distorted Body" by Csaba Pál.

When people think of art, perhaps the more classic Picasso or Monet images come to mind. But if you’re in search of an unconventional display, then the “International Digital Art Miniprint Exhibition” is the perfect place to find it. This annual exhibit, on until Dec. 10 at Le Centre d’artistes Voix Visuelle, showcases 45 artists from around the world and their interpretations of this year’s theme: “Le corps transformé (the Transformed Body).” Presented in both English and French, this show will certainly be a conversation starter.

Rough Week for Air Canada: Told to Improve French Services

Photo by Micheal Gil

By Carissa Bluestone

Though Air Canada averted a strike yesterday, coming to a last-minute agreement with the flight attendants union, the airline didn’t fare as well with Canada’s languages watchdog. It received a slap on the wrist this week from Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser concerning its treatment of French-speaking passengers.

An audit of the airline’s bilingual services conducted from April 2010 to January 2011 was less than impressive: In airports where bilingual services are required (any airport with more than 1 million passengers annually) only one in four Air Canada agents spoke French. Only half of the agents assigned to designated bilingual flights were indeed bilingual. Additionally, the airline topped the list of complaints received by the commissioner’s office between 2005 and 2009. Air Canada is the only carrier that operates under the Official Languages Act.

The audit also revealed systemic confusion: a lack of clear directives from management and uncertainty among agents about their legal obligations to French-speaking flyers. As a result, recommendations put forth by the commission include the implementation of accountability frameworks and multiyear action plans addressing everything from staffing to airport signage. For Francophone customers this should eventually translate into greater availability of bilingual agents at the gate and in the air.

For more on what constitutes a bilingual flight, read the story at www.cbc.ca

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Stratford, Ontario

Photo by Mandeep Flora

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is our series highlighting the best local restaurants across Canada. Today we are featuring top restaurant picks in Stratford, in southwestern Ontario, known for its picturesque streets, Shakespeare festival and modern-day Romeo, Justin Bieber.

Have a tip for your city? Let us know on Twitter or on Facebook.

By Waheeda Harris

Breakfast

Despite this resto’s moniker, the first meal of the day can be savoury and sweet at Let Them Eat Cake. Choose from a multitude of options such as the de rigeur eggs and toast, eggs benedict, waffles, pancakes or Stratford scrambles to make sure you get protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals in one bite. Head over to the town’s main street, Ontario Street, pick up a Balzac’s Coffee and stroll the strip of boutiques and galleries.

Let Them Eat Cake, 23 Albert Street, Stratford, 519-508-2253

Lunch

For the midday break, choose from the sustainable and tasty fish and seafood options at Simple Fish and Chips. From the traditional battered halibut or haddock, diners can also choose from Ontario lake yellow perch and lake pickerel, lobster risotto, mac ‘n’ cheese, pot pie or halibut dishes inspired by spicy Indian, Thai or Jamaican influences. Walking along the Avon River and admiring the swans will be a perfect post-lunch afternoon excursion.

Simple Fish and Chips, 118 Downie Street, Stratford, 519-275-0400

Dinner

Reward yourself before or after a visit to the Stratford Festival with a sumptuous meal at this modern French bistro. The daily menu reflects the seasonal offerings of Perth County and the inventiveness of Chef Aaron Linley, and the pretty interior and excellent service is sure to put any diner at ease. Save room for a sweet treat to finish the meal, made in-house by Chef Bronwyn Linley (Aaron’s wife).

Bijou, 105 Erie Street, Stratford, 519-273-5000

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Sherbrooke, Quebec

Photo by Michel Gagnon

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is our series highlighting the best local restaurants across Canada. Today we are featuring top restaurant picks in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which is a two hour drive east of Montreal.

Have a tip for your city? Let us know on Twitter or on Facebook.

By Waheeda Harris

Breakfast

The first meal of the day starts with all the right fixings at Eggsfruits – from café au lait and smoothies to bagels and eggs a multitude of ways, this cafe will help fuel your day of wandering the streets. Walk off breakfast with a tour of the Sherbrooke’s 11 fresco murals, which celebrate the city’s history and citizens.

Eggsfruits, 4200 King Ouest Sherbrooke AC 819-562-8686

Lunch

Savour the European way to dine with a table on Restaurant Le Bouchon‘s terrasse, or when the temps turn cooler, a spot near the window in the light-filled modern dining room. The contemporary French menu includes favourites such as bavette de boeuf or pork filet with citron and Dijon, but those in the know will order confit du canard, a regional specialty. Finish with a dessert plate with selections from Fromagerie de la Gare, a well-known local cheese boutique.

Restaurant Le Bouchon,  107 Rue Frontenac, Sherbrooke QC 819-566-0876

Dinner

Fine dining and exploration go hand in hand on The Orford Express, a refurbished train that takes guests from Sherbrooke to Magog and back, as they experience a four course dinner, a video and audio history of the area, live music and the opportunity for an after-dinner stroll by the Magog waterfront. Quebecois hospitality make this a memorable dinner on the rails through the Eastern Townships.

The Orford Express, Marche de la Gare, 806 Place de la Gare Sherbrooke QC 819-575-8081

Our Take: National Geographic Traveler’s Top 10 Foods in Quebec

St-Viateur Bagel. Photo by Backpack Foodie.

National Geographic Traveler’s blog post on top ten foods to eat in Quebec was en pointe. The list recognizes the French Canadian staples that most tourists know and love; the number one choice, of course, is poutine, the gooey combination of cheese curds and gravy. (more…)

All in the Family

Father and son at O Bistro

Father and son at O Bistro

The phrase “like father like son” certainly applies to Olivier and Jean Gouin. Growing up, Olivier was influenced by the culinary prowess of his chef father Jean, owner of Chez François. Now, all grown up and with cooking skills of his own, Olivier has followed in his dad’s footsteps with the opening of his own French restaurant, O Bistro. Try the O Clubhouse—brie, grilled chicken, bacon and mixed greens layered on a croissant ($12), for a French take on this American classic.—RM

June Editor’s Picks: Dining

Ultra (photo by Device 222)

Ultra (photo by Device 222).

1. One of Toronto’s swankiest dining and nightlife destination just got even more posh. Along the see-and-be-seen strip of Queen Street West, Ultra recently unveiled a new Munge Leung–designed interior that melds candlelit intimacy with cheeky features like a 15-foot-high wall of giant rooster photos and a communal table fashioned by edgy local firm Castor. The menu has been overhauled, too. While steaks ($28 to $45)—a supper club staple with varied accompaniments—remain, chef Chris Zielinski also serves up eastern-inspired small plates such as hoisin-ginger salmon with pineapple-coriander jus ($20) and half-baked lobster with avocado salad and chipotle hollandaise ($19). Don’t forget your dancing shoes—top-tier DJs spin late four nights a week.

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