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

~ Episode 1 Debuts Tuesday January 31, 2023 ~

Enjoy the Introduction, 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 I want to convey the thrill of reading in archives the unpublished record, the letters, notebooks, and diaries—actual handwriting.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)

Upcoming Weekly Episodes

Episode 1: A Future in the Past
Tues. Jan. 31, 2023

  • 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.

Episode 2: Great Research Discoveries
Wed. Feb. 1, 2023

  • 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.

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

Episode 3: Archie Belaney in England, Grey Owl in Canada
Tues. Feb. 7, 2023

Episode 4: Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, or Sylvester Long?
Tues. Feb. 14, 2023

Discovering the Mississauga, the Anishinabeg on the North Shore of Lake Ontario

Episode 5: Peter Jones and Eliza Field
Tues. Feb. 21, 2023

Episode 6: The Mississauga and David Ramsay
Tues Feb. 28, 2023

Episode 7: Sir Augustus d’Este, a First Cousin of Queen Victoria, and his Gift of a Peace Pipe to the Mississauga, 1838
Tues. Mar. 7, 2023

Episode 8: Nahnebahnwequay, “Up Right Woman,” and her Audience with Queen Victoria, 1860
Tues. Mar. 14, 2023

The Political World – 19th Century

Episode 9: Lord Bury, Supt. General of Indian Affairs in the Canadas, 1855
Tues. Mar. 21, 2023

Episode 10: John A. Macdonald and the First Nations
Tues. Mar. 28, 2023

Episode 11: Will Jackson / Honoré Jaxon, Riel’s Secretary in 1884/85, Whose Vision Differed Greatly from John A. Macdonald’s
Tues. Apr. 18, 2023

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

Episode 12: Shawahnekizhek’s Sons and Their Dedicated Ontario Teacher, Elizabeth Barrett
Tues. Apr. 25, 2023

Episode 13: Fred and Evelyn Albright, a Remarkable Ontario Couple in Alberta, 1910s
Tues. May 2, 2023

Episode 14: Annie Glen Broder, Calgary’s Grande Dame of Music in the Early 20th Century
Tues. May 9, 2023

Episode 15: Hugh Dempsey’s Contributions Over Two-thirds of a Century to the History of Southern Alberta
Tues. May 16, 2023

The Political World—20th Century

Episode 16: Onondeyoh, or Fred Loft, the Mohawk Founder of the League of Indians of Canada, 1918
Tues. May 23, 2023

Episode 17: Duncan Campbell Scott at Victoria College, University of Toronto, 1925
Tues. May 30, 2023

Episode 18: Lester Pearson and Indigenous Canada, Barely Visible to a Mid-20th Century Prime Minister
Tues. Jun. 6, 2023

Episode 19: The Temagami Land Claim, From the Early 1970s to early 1980s
Tues. Jun. 13, 2023


Episode 20: View from the Present
Tues. Jun. 20, 2023

  • 12 January 2019, Orillia, Ontario, where I was guest speaker at the 21st annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner.

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.