OHS Audio Presentations
In Hindsight Cover

In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History

Presented by Dr. Donald B. Smith

Produced by The Ontario Historical Society


Presented by Chief Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation

In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History
In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History

“In Hindsight” is a Weekly Series (Following the Model of Old-Fashioned Radio) on Different Personalities in 19th and 20th Century Canadian History.

The tone will be relaxed, with an abundance of anecdotes.

Canadians of the past were prisoners of their cultural values just as their latter-day judges are of today’s beliefs. In each episode I try to understand, and to help the listener understand, the individual in the context of their own times.

Two introductory chapters review my transformation from a student of international affairs into an historian of Canada with a particular interest in the Indigenous Peoples. Eighteen episodes from across Canada follow, from the late 18th century to today. My subject? A selection of my personal research discoveries through reading, interviews, and visits to the localities under review, both before and after my arrival in Alberta from Ontario in 1974.

Written summaries of each episode will be provided, exclusively on the OHS website, including a short bibliography and/or the “back story” as to how the “discovery” was made.

Most of my research was conducted well before the availability of electronic tools, like the Internet. I want to re-create the excitement of visiting the locales of my 19th and 20th century subjects, and meeting descendants in person. I want to convey the thrill of reading in archives the unpublished record, the letters, notebooks, and diaries—actual handwriting.

To prepare I am reviewing five decades of personal and professional correspondence, and my publications in Canadian history from the 1970s to 2022. It is a fun project.

I have lived with these characters for many years—some now at the edge of memory. To cite Grey Owl in his Tales of an Empty Cabin (Toronto: Macmillan, 1936, page 162):

“I smell again the smoke of long-dead fires and see the images of faces and figures that have forever vanished, seem to catch once more the sound of voices I’ll never hear again.”

All the very best,
Donald B. Smith

Grey Owl Portrait

Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney), 1937 (Photo: Paul Horsdal / Library and Archives Canada / PA-122479)


George Self Portrait

Episode 1: A Future in the Past

Arrival in Calgary, 1974.  My teaching post in Canadian history at the University of Calgary allowed me to build on research and writing already begun in Ontario, and, to my joy, expand it across Canada. On George Self, founder of what is now the History Department of the University of Calgary, and one of the most original individuals I have ever encountered in academic life.


In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History
In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History
Episode 1: A Future in the Past
Don Smith at Expo '67

Episode 2: Great Research Discoveries

How a student of world affairs became a Canadian historian, with his primary interest in the relationship of non-Indigenous Canadians and the Indigenous Peoples.


In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History
In Hindsight: Half a Century of Research Discoveries in Canadian History
Episode 2: Great Research Discoveries

Upcoming Episodes

“Things are Seldom What they Seem:” The Self-Invention of Two Remarkable Individuals

Episode 3: Grey Owl
Archie Belaney in England, Grey Owl in Canada. On 14 April 1938, the day after his death, the Toronto Globe and Mail referred to Grey Owl, one of Canada’s first environmentalists, as the “most famous of Canadian Indians.” Who really was he?
Tues. Feb. 7, 2023

Episode 4: Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance
The Glorious Imposter. The famous writer of the 1920s, author of Long Lance (1928). Indigenous or Non-Indigenous? Or both?
Tues. Feb. 14, 2023

Four Sketches of the Anishinabeg on the North Shore of Lake Ontario Two Centuries Ago

Episode 5: Peter Jones and Eliza Field
The Mississauga Chief Kahkewaaquonaby and his English bride, Eliza Field. Portrait of a marriage.
Tues. Feb. 21, 2023

Episode 6: The Mississauga and David Ramsay
A gruesome tale: David Ramsay, an “Indian killer,” and the Mississauga.
Tues Feb. 28, 2023

Episode 7: Egerton Ryerson and Sir Augustus d’Este
Two non-Indigenous friends of the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Tues. Mar. 7, 2023

Episode 8: Nahnebahwequay
The extraordinary Mississauga woman who had an audience with Queen Victoria, 1860.
Tues. Mar. 14, 2023

The 19th Century Canadian Political World

Episode 9: Lord Bury
One of the last British Superintendent Generals of Indian Affairs in the Canadas, 1855.
Tues. Mar. 21, 2023

Episode 10: John A. Macdonald
Canada’s first prime minister’s influence on the development of Canada’s Indian Policy, 1844-1876, and the First Nations.
Tues. Mar. 28, 2023

Episode 11: Will Jackson, Later Honoré Jaxon
Louis Riel’s secretary in 1884/85. A significant historical figure?
Tues. Apr. 18, 2023

“History Close at Hand”—Four Alberta Stories—Non-Indigenous and Indigenous

Episode 12: Shawahnekizhek / Henry Bird Steinhauer
Shawahnekizhek’s sons and their dedicated Ontario teacher, Elizabeth Barrett, who made a difference.
Tues. Apr. 25, 2023

Episode 13: Fred and Evelyn Albright
The tragic story of a remarkable Ontario couple in Alberta, 1910s.
Tues. May 2, 2023

Episode 14: Annie Glen Broder
Calgary’s extraordinary Grande Dame of music in the early 20th century.
Tues. May 9, 2023

Episode 15: Hugh Dempsey
The contributions over two-thirds of a century of Hugh Dempsey, Dean of Alberta Historians, to the history of his province.
Tues. May 16, 2023

The 20th Century Canadian Political World

Episode 16: Onondeyoh / Fred Loft
The Mohawk founder of the cross-Canada League of Indians of Canada, 1918.
Tues. May 23, 2023

Episode 17: Duncan Campbell Scott
The address of Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, at the Victoria College chapel, Toronto, 1925.
Tues. May 30, 2023

Episode 18: Lester Pearson
Lester Pearson and Indigenous Canada, a world barely visible to the mid-20th century prime minister (1963-1968).
Tues. Jun. 6, 2023

Episode 19: The Temagami Land Claim
The Temagami Land Claim Conference, Bear Island, Lake Temagami, July 1982. As one participant (Mary Black Rogers) later recalled, it was “like an Agatha Christie—all the guests arriving from distant points, meeting in an isolated spot.”
Tues. Jun. 13, 2023


Episode 20: View From the Present
12 January 2019, Orillia, Ontario, where I was guest speaker at the 21st annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner. Final recollections of half a century of research discoveries in Canadian history.
Tues. Jun. 20, 2023

Dr. Donald B. Smith

Donald Smith Portrait

Dr. Donald B. Smith (Photo: T. Dawson)

A long-time OHS member, Dr. Donald B. Smith is a Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Calgary who has focused his career on the history of Indigenous Canada, Quebec, and the history of Calgary and Southern Alberta.

Dr. Smith was born in Toronto and raised in Oakville, Ontario. He obtained his Honours B.A. in Modern History from the University of Toronto in 1968; his M.A. from Université Laval in Quebec City in 1969; and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1975. He taught Canadian History at the University of Calgary from 1974 to 2009, where he is a member of the Order of the University of Calgary.

In 1971, as a Ph.D. student, Don Smith made a presentation at the OHS Annual General Meeting in Peterborough on the writer and lecturer Grey Owl. Later that year, “Grey Owl” was published in the OHS’s Ontario History journal, Smith’s first article to appear in a Canadian historical journal.

Dr. Smith’s publications include Long Lance: The True Story of an Impostor (1982), Sacred Feathers: The Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) and the Mississauga Indians (1987), From the Land of Shadows: The Making of Grey Owl (1990), Mississauga Portraits: Ojibwe Voices from Nineteenth Century Canada (2013), Calgary’s Grand Story: The Making of a Prairie Metropolis from the Viewpoint of Two Heritage Buildings (2005), and Seen But Not Seen: Influential Canadians and the First Nations from the 1840s to Today (2020).

In 2014, Mississauga Portraits won the OHS’s Floyd S. Chalmers Award for the best book on Ontario history published in the preceding calendar year.

In 2022, Dr. Smith was the recipient of an Eagle Award as a Friend of Mississauga of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). The award is given to honour a person who is not a member of MCFN but whose career in any field has had a major impact or influence on advancing knowledge of MCFN’s history, language, culture, beliefs and traditions.

In January 2023, Dr. Smith’s Seen But Not Seen was honoured with the 2022 John Wesley Dafoe Book Prize.