You know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”? Well, today I’m going to make some quality figurative lemonade.

Before March Break, one of the projects I was working on at school was a presentation on a topic of my choice. But since it looks like I won’t be heading back to school anytime soon, I’ve decided to share my presentation with you in blog form. Finally, I’ll be able to get it out of my system! I hope that you enjoy it.

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I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to think honestly. Do you like history?

It’s okay if you said no. I understand that history isn’t for everyone. But there’s a difference between not liking it, and not liking it because you think it’s boring.

There seems to be a misconception that history is just names, dates, and other useless pieces of information. But really, it’s so much more. History is chalk-full of incredible victories, devastating defeats, and stories so weird you’ll wonder if they’re true. History is a written record of how everything came to be! It’s something equally as important to learn as math, science, or even walking and talking. Because by learning history, we are learning from our ancestors’ successes and failures. Otherwise, we’ll be doomed to make the same mistakes that they did.


Every summer, my family flies down to Nova Scotia to visit my Nanna. However, she’s getting older, and we tire her out a lot. So we frequently have to find other ways to keep ourselves occupied. Being the history lover in the family, I always vote to visit a museum or historical site. My sister wants to do the opposite. She hates history with a passion.

But if I’ve learned anything from our trips with her, it’s that there’s a way to make even a history hater get a kick out of history: interactivity. By dressing up in period attire, or taking part in demonstrations, history seems to come to life. Suddenly, it’s not an obscure story from a book anymore. Non-history fans will have a way to get engaged in the story, and make their experience more enjoyable than if they were just looking at display cases.

To help illustrate that, I’m going to show you a few examples of places I’ve visited that even my sister(the history hater) had an enjoyable time at.

The Diefenbunker:

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(Pictured above are the entrance to the museum, and my family in the blast tunnel, which was meant to deflect a bomb’s blast from the bunker)

Where it’s located:

Carp, Ontario

Background:

A secret underground bunker that could be used to run the country in the event of a nuclear missile strike on Ottawa during the Cold War. It was nicknamed the Diefenbunker after then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

What history lovers will enjoy:

The bunker was completely recreated to look as it did during the 1960s. Throughout the four levels, you can see places like the Prime Minister’s Office, the Situation Room, and the CBC Broadcasting Studio, as well as numerous exhibits about the time period.

What non-history fans will enjoy:

Unlike at most other museums, a lot of the artifacts here are not in plexiglass cases. You’re allowed to touch them and pick them up, giving you a chance to experience history life never before.

Personal comments:

This is the only museum that’s ever received a 10/10 in my sister’s books. She loved getting the explore the different levels of the museum, and roleplaying some of the jobs people had at the bunker. For example, she got to pretend to be a secretary, a government official, and even Prime Minister! Another hit for her was a room designed to look like a classroom. This showed her how children lived during the Cold War, and helped her to better understand the Cold War from their point of view.

If you would like to “visit” the Diefenbunker, you can take a virtual tour by clicking here.

The Kingston Penitentiary:

(Pictured above is the exterior of the penitentiary, and what a cell looked like there)

Where it’s located:

Kingston, Ontario

Background:

Canada’s oldest operating prison, from 1835 to 2013. During its operation, it was home to some of Canada’s most notorious prisoners, and saw several riots. Now, it has opened to the public for guided tours.

What history lovers will enjoy:

Stationed at different points throughout the tour are real prison guards who worked at the Kingston Penitentiary. Instead of a tour guide, you can hear stories about the prison from those who were actually there.

What non-history fans will enjoy:

You’ll have the chance to see where the famous riots and escapes happened, and put yourself in a prisoner’s shoes as you step inside a real jail cell.

Also, across the street from the prison is a little museum called Canada’s Penitentiary Museum. It goes more in-depth about the escapes and prison life, and even features a collection of homemade weapons from the prison. They’re pretty fascinating no matter what your opinion on history is! Entrance to the museum is by donation, and visiting here is a great followup to your tour.

Personal Comments:

Going inside a jail cell at the penitentiary, I was shocked by how small it was. I couldn’t imagine spending an hour in there, let alone the rest of my life. Even though I would never commit a crime, just being there was enough incentive for me to never break the law.

The National Air Force Museum of Canada:

(Pictured above is the Halifax Bomber, and a memorial to the Canadians who received Victoria Crosses in Air Operations)

Where it’s located:

Trenton, Ontario

Background:

Trenton, Ontario, is one of the few Canadian towns that plays host to an Air Force Base. (Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 8 Wing) Located next to the base itself, the museum showcases the history of flight in Canada, and the contributions we’ve made on a global scale.

What history lovers will enjoy:

One of the focal points at the museum is the Halifax Heavy Bomber airplane, which was used during WW2. Recovered from Lake Mjosa in Norway, it is one of only three Halifax Bombers in the world that are still intact.

Other points of interest at the museum include a replica of the Silver Dart(the first plane to fly in Canada), a flight simulator, and an exhibit about the Canadian involvement in The Great Escape.

What non-history fans will enjoy:

Outside the museum is a large field full of planes that have all been used in service by the Air Force at one point in time. There, you have a rare opportunity to get up close to these planes, and even go in some of them. You can then compare these airplanes to the current airplanes being used at the base, which is visible from the field.

Personal Comments:

As I write this, a plane is passing overhead. Whether it was from the base or not, I don’t know. But by visiting the National Air Force Museum of Canada, I am now able to better appreciate the sacrifices these brave members of the Armed Forces have made for our country. Because for every success story displayed at the museum, there was one of tragedy. For instance, all but one of the crew members from the Halifax Bomber displayed at the museum perished as a result of the crash. And in the field of airplanes outside the museum are countless memorials and memorial stones commemorating the lives of those who served. While being in the Air Force and flying airplanes sounds glamorous, the consequences can prove to be just as devastating as that of any other military branch.

On a lighter note, I hope that by learning about these places, and the ways they make history interactive, you’ve realized that history can actually be pretty interesting if you give it a chance. Maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did! But like I mentioned earlier, I understand that history isn’t for everyone; forcing it upon someone will not make them like it no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, you have to things that they want to do. Who knows, maybe you’ll realize that it’s actually more interesting than you’ve been giving it credit for.

P.S. In my original presentation, I reference a few other places that make history interactive, like the Titanic gravesites, and the Halifax Citadel. If you’d like to learn more about these places, let me know, and I’d be happy to share some information with you.

Published by macinnla12

I love to read! Through this blog, I will show my passion of reading by recommending books, authors, and book-related things to you. I will also occasionally post short stories that I have written.

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13 Comments

  1. Hi, Leah!
    I loved your post. A great way to share your speech. I’d be like your sister …. although as I get older, my appreciation for history grows. Like the speech you delivered in class, this blog post does get me excited to learn more about the places you describe visiting. Also reminds me of the wonderful times I had visiting that RCAF museum in Trenton – my son Jack running around outside, arms outstretched, pretending to be an airplane. Just the mention of the Citadel reminds me of my university days in Halifax. Thanks for helping me remember a little of my history, too! Miss you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leah, your unique and wonderful writing skills are only matched by your tremendous compassion and insight. Such a thoughtful post. I have been absent from the interwebs because of work commitments that take up my time and energy. I will be certain to go back now and read the posts of yours that I’ve missed.

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  3. What a wonderful post!
    Leah you have a way with words and I never tire of reading your insightful posts. I also share your love for history and interactive experiences. The first hand accounts at Kingston Pen makes the tours unforgettable, and the National Air Force Museum was a humbling experience. After reading your post I am now convinced that I need to visit the Diefenbunker but a virtual tour will have to do for now. To help engage the “history haters” of the world I would suggest immersing yourself in a historical escape room. Thanks for the great recommendations!

    Like

  4. Hi Leah!
    This post is so inspiring. We all too often get caught up living in the here and now and lose sight of all that happened before us! Your information about the Diefenbunker gave me some much needed perspective. We are not the first, nor the last generation to live through challenging and sometimes scary times. Keep up the great writing:-)

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    1. I often like to retreat into the past to remind myself that I’m not the first one to experience something challenging or difficult. In doing so, I can get great advice on how to deal with it by reading first-hand accounts from our ancestors. Right now, I find myself reading a lot of first-hand accounts about the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. It was similar to COVID-19 in the way that it completely changed the lives of everyone around the world. But they pushed through it, and we’ll be able to push through this, too. Thanks for reading my blog!

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  5. Hi Leah! I love your post! The way you write makes it way more interesting! I’ve started to get into history more, to learn about how people and our ancestors lived in the past. Great work!

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  6. Very interesting post Leah! I love how you found ways to make history interesting for everyone. What do you think will appear in history books/articles in the future about the COVID-19 pandemic? I’m thinking photos of empty streets, photos of animals roaming the empty streets, and unfortunately photos of people hoarding toilet paper.

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    1. Thank you! I think that this pandemic will be remembered for many things. Of course, there’ll be the pictures of the world at a standstill, and people panic-buying whatever they can get their hands on. But, the pandemic will also be remembered by the selfless actions of the frontline workers, and all of the public support they received. We may be stuck inside, but the human spirit continues to live on, even in the darkest of times.

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