Read our tribute to the scholarly work of Bettina Bradbury, my doctoral supervisor, on the occasion of her retirement

Last June, four of Bettina’s former graduate students met at the Canadian Historical Association‘s Annual meeting the time of a roundtable about her work.  The oldest of them all, I spoke – in French – of the way she supervised my research in the late 1980s, and about supervision in general.  Labour/Le travail published our roundtable this week.  You may read our contributions here.

In addition, thanks to the tireless radio work of Sean Graham, Active History posted an audio recording of the roundtable last month, which included, at the end, Bettina’s own comments.

Some of these thoughts were about retirement, a topic about which the President of the American Historical Association, Jan Goldstein, wrote eloquently about in her October 2014 column of the AHA’s Bulletin, Perspectives on History, in generous ways that converged with Bettina’s.

Bettina is retiring shortly, and she gave a talk on her work at her university, York, last year, entitled “Twists, Turns and Tall Shoulders”

Her colleagues organized a symposium on her work last Winter, with a wonderful program. You can find the program here..

She also became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada last year, and gave a shorter talk then.

On July 13: Launch of the Website on the History of the Wheelchair at Carleton’s Summit on Accessibility

The website is now available since July 13 at the following address:

We would be delighted if you could take a look at the exhibit and add your thoughts on how we can encourage interdisciplinary discussion of technology, mobility, and accessibility. Please feel free to forward this email to others who you feel would also be interested.

Our research assistant Dorothy Smith will present a poster and a talk on the project on the history of the wheelchair in Canada at the Accessibility Summit, from July 13 to July 15, 2014, at Ottawa’s Convention Centre.

Her  poster will be on display for the duration.

wheelchair poster jpg

The Wheelchair: An Artifact History of Disability in Canada

Carleton University’s virtual exhibit on wheelchair history in Canada asks the viewer to see the narratives created by medical and social models of disability as well as changes in technology, users, societal assumptions and behaviours over time. The goal is to encourage one to examine “intersectionalities” between people with disabilities, environmental, attitudinal, and technological change. As well, it seeks to while alert non-professionals to the ways disability is constructed out of impairment.

Her talk will be on July 13, at 2:45.

Session: World of Good Practices (Room: 206 + 208, level 2)

A fast paced, information packed session designed to share good practices and innovative approaches. Presenters will share their solutions to the challenges faced when creating greater accessibility and inclusion in the community, workplace, learning and living environments.

Retrofitting Cadboro Beach
Stefanie Barber (Canada)

Measure of Accessibility to Urban Infrastructure
Stephanie Gamache, Occupational Therapist, M.Sc., PH.D., Universite Laval (Canada)

Castle on a Hill:  Balancing accessibility with cultural landscape and natural environments
Dorota Grudniewicz, Project Manager Landscape Architect, National Capital Commission (Canada)

The Role of the Disability Community in Creating Social Change: The AODA Experience (media presentation)
David Lepofsky, University of Toronto (Canada)

The Wheelchair: An Artifact History of Disability in Canada

Dorothy-Jane Smith, Research Assistant, Carleton University (Canada)

Best Practices for Post-Production and Emerging Forms of Described Video
Robert Pearson, Director, Accessible Media Inc. (Canada)

The Development, Testing and Refinement of the School Accessibility Tool (SAT)
Nicole Yantzi, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, Laurentian University (Canada)

A Person Centered and Social Capital Approach to Community Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Keenan Wellar, Co-Leader and Director of Communications, LiveWorkPlay (Canada)


I am helping to supervise the research on technologies of disability in Canada. Dorothy Smith is working on the history of the wheelchair in Canada, with the help of Design engineer Adrian Chan and Social Work Professor Roy Hanes.

We would like to recognize a major partner, Dr. David Pantalony, curator of Physical Sciences and Medicine at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. His support gave us access to the core artifacts found in the exhibit

As well, we thank the Carleton Centre for Public History who is hosting the exhibit on their website DH@CWorks (

Thanks also to Carleton University for funding this collaborative project through the CIF.

More on Disability Studies

I wrote a short review of the work done by historians of disability and the Canadian Disability Studies Association for the Bulletin of the Canadian Historical Association of May 2013: click HERE for versions in French and in English.

Carleton is starting its new minor in Disability Studies this September.  To learn more, click HERE



History of voluntourism: “To Hell with Good Intentions”

* These pictures are better seen with  Firefox or Chrome browsers


This week Carleton’s student newspaper, The Charlatan, published a feature article on voluntourism.  The author, Erika Howes, asked me about the history of the phenomenon. One of the events I mentioned to Erica is the conference of Ivan Illich, the catholic priest, social critic, and missionary who, in the late 1960s, told American students eager to go and save people abroad to stay home.  International charities, he contended, were plagued with the kind of paternalism which still tainted the very kind of religious missions he was trying to reform from within.

The conference was brought to my attention last year by retired CBC radio producer David Cayley, during an interview where he recalled his days as an employee of the the small and main office of Oxfam Canada, then in Toronto, in the mid-sixties.  Well known later for the program Ideas, Cayley would come to  know Illich well, be able to conduct rare interviews with him, at the turn of the 1990s, and to write about his thoughts.  In the preface of the written transcript of their conversations, he recalls how he found the conference paper, in a bundle of material sent by the Canadian University Services Overseas  (CUSO)* to  returning volunteers like him.  Cayley had spent two years teaching in northern Borneo before working for Oxfam. CUSO’s leaders, he gathered, might have thought their own organization to be too good to be part of Illch’s indictment. But the sharp denunciation continued to trouble him.

Here is the text of the conference Illich gave in 1968, and which impressed the young Cayley, “The Hell with Good Intentions.” And here are a few audio recorded excerpt of their conversation, which address, in part, the question of good samaritans.

Cayley worked mainly at the education branch of Oxfam, touring schools and producing material to instruct young people at home about the Third World, to create the kind of “informed community” Illich was calling for.

Cayley's bulletin

Listen, the Educational Supplement to Oxfam Canada’s Bulletin, edited by Cayle and his colleagues on the mid- 1960s, to “Create an informed community” and “face the crisis of development”.

Still, when in Oxfam, he did organise a trip for Canadian high school students in Mexico, which, he reckons from later testimonies, transformed the lives of many.  The story has to be told more fully, but it is not unlike the adventure of British teenagers who went to Algeria in the late 1960s, this time with Oxfam UK. It was called “Operation Oasis“, and McGill Ph.D. candidate Marie-Luise Ermisch has written about this story in a blog for the  UK Voluntary Action History Society.

Today’s tensions around the “good intentions” of voluntourism, identified in The Charlatan‘s article, are also well documented in the anthropological study MA student Cassandra Verardy completed last year, for her MA thesis in anthropology at Carleton University, on “Perceptions of Voluntourism,” by interviewing a dozen of voluntourists.  Cassandra presented her thesis in three minutes last year, and here is the video.


Poster on Voluntourism prepared by thirs year students M. Dancho, in HIST 3111, Winter 2014

Last Winter in the course on the history of humanitarian aid I taught, Mackenzie Dancho prepared this potent visual summary of the dilemmas associated with voluntourism.  The display attracted a very large comments by fellow students, who are at once attracted to and concerned by, possibilities of volunteering and traveling abroad at the same time.

*See the free sample chapter on CUSO in India,  of Ruth Compton-Brouwer’s recent history of CUSO, based on volunteer’s interviews.

One day workshop to welcome Dr. Kevin O’Sullivan, Irish historian of humanitarian aid, July 9, 2014

Dr. Kevin O’Sullivan will be a visiting scholar at Carleton University from July 8 to August 4, to research Canadian archives.  Kevin is the architect of the rich , a founding member of ‘Transnational Ireland’ International Research Network and the author of many studies of Irish humanitarianism.   He is researching countries of the Commonwealth.


The workshop will take place in the History Lounge (Paterson Hall 433 – see Map of Carleton’s  Campus)


We will start at 8:30 in the morning and finish at supper time.  There will  be three distinct themes (research, future collaborations with archives and NGOS and teaching), in addition to a presentation by Kevin on his work and the state of affairs amongst his colleagues.  The following day, Dr. O”Sullivan will have individual appointments of an hour each with the graduate students participants who wish to meet with him.


This will be an occasion to exchange concerns, findings, information about archives and documents, practices and projects, collaborations with communities.


Carleton doctoral candidate and our research assistant Will Tait, and I will coordinate the day.  There will be food for all participants.  We do not have too much money, but do tell me if you would need assistance for your travel and accommodation.  We can also direct you to some hotels and Bed and breakfasts or residence rooms.


Kevin would like to visit the various NGO archives available in Ottawa, and also to work on materials relating to CIDA-NGO relations in the National Archives.  This will also be an occasion to assist him.


The number of places is limited.  If you would like to register, please contact me at dominique_marshall [at]

Press HERE to visit the password protected participants’ page (passwords and further instructions will be sent to those who register).

Thanks: We wish to thank the following institutions for their financial support:

*For more Red Cross Stamps, see the Pinterest page.

One Day Workshop on the History of Humanitarian Aid to Welcome Dr. Kevin O’Sullivan – July 9, 2014 at Carleton


Dr. Kevin O’Sullivan will be a visiting scholar at Carleton University from July 8 to August 4.  in Ottawa this coming July to research Canadian archives.  Kevin is the architect of the rich and the author of many studies of Irish humanitarianism.   He is researching countries of the Commonwealth.  (See a little more below)

We will start at 8:30 in the morning and finish at supper time.  There will probably be three distinct themes to be announced, in addition to a short presentation by Kevin on the state of affairs amongst his colleagues.

This will be an occasion to exchange concerns, findings, information about archives and documents, practices and projects, along a schedule that have yet to be determined depending on who will be able to come.

Will Tait and I will coordinate the day, and help you find the day, make sure that there is food for all during the day.  We do not have too much money, but do tell me if you would need assistance for your travel and accommodation.  We can also direct you to some hotels and Bed and breakfasts, and Will has offered to house two graduate students.

Exhibition of my students’ posters on the history of humanitarian aid, Carleton Library, Discovery Center, March 25 – April 15 2014


Poster presentations, First session out of three, 25 March 2014, Discovery Center.  

The 45 students of HIST 3111 have researched topics as varied as missionaries in colonial Latin America to humanitarian aid and LGBTQ rights, and the Kindertransport.  Their posters will be on a rotating exhibition in Carleton University McOdrum Library’s Discovery Center (fourth floor)  for the coming three weeks. Thanks to Ashleigh Fleicher of the Discovery Centre  and Ingrid Draayer, exhibition specialist at the Library, for their assistance.

display P1010960










Rolling poster exhibition, second week, April 1-8 2014  (photo Ingrid Draayer)

Next Friday event: Oxfam St John’s 1964-2014: remembering our history

Oxfam St John’s is closing this spring, following a debated reform of Oxfam Canada.  Its long time staff person, Bill Hynd, will host an event in a week.  This was the only regional office in Canada to own its own house, and one of the two regional offices left, of the dozen there once were at the peak of Oxfam Canada decentralization.  Over 40 years, the house became a centre of community life.  The NL Social Justice Cooperative will take over the role, from now on.

Bill Hynd in the offices of Oxfam St John's , 5 August 2013 when we visited.

Bill Hynd in the offices of Oxfam St John’s , 5 August 2013 when we visited.  Photo E. Marshall

Celebrations – On Friday March 28 2014, from 6 to 11 pm, at the Masonic Temple on Cathedral St.  Oxfam friends will be celebrating
Oxfam’s 40 Plus years of social justice Activism
Bill Hynd’s 30 years as an Oxfam staffperson
– the next 40 years with the NL Social Justice Cooperative

From 8 till 11pm We will have Music and dancing with:
The Salty Dolls and The moonshine men

Send your memories – Bill and I will use this website to collect memories and memorabilias.  So please send pictures, texts, scans, photos to us using this contact form.  If you need to send attachments, use my email address:

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I will exhibit your testimonies and pictures for all on a separate page of this website on Oxfam St John’s 1964-2014-A Virtual Archive unless you tell me to keep them private.  I will also copy these for the provincial archives who hold the fonds of Oxfam St Johns,.  I will use these documents for my own research, which you can follow on this website.

Comment on the items of the Oxfam St John’s 1964-2014-A Virtual Archive – Please help us identify the pictures already posted, using the same form: just refer to the name of the scrapbook/photo album/gallery, and the number of the item.

Give your old documents to the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and LabradorThe Provincial archives hosts the fonds of Oxfam St Johns’ which they are cataloguing at the moment.  If much was lost in the fire of August, an  earlier bundle of documents (13 boxes of them) had been given the the archives 20 years ago.  They are presently being catalogued and will be available to the public soon.  We can help put you in contact with them if you consider making a donation.

“Leave a comment” on the event – You may use the “Leave a comment” button just below, or Tweet using the hashtag #OxfamStJohns40.  I will be doing so from Ottawa as I won’t be able to join you.

The papers of Oxfam Canada’s longtime Chair, Meyer Brownstone, are now available

Archives and Research Collections, Carleton University, has just published a finding aid online of the collection our research project aquired in 2013.


Visit the ARC website.

For Paper Records
For his paper records, you need to go to  the “Search collection” tab of the Archives and Research Collection website, and then enter the “Finding Aid” database, where you type “Brownstone”
For Photographic Records
For his photographic records, you press the “photographic database” button instead; when asked for a word, you type “Brownstone”.  Meyer patiently described every one of his 800 and more slides.  You can see the images and search them by place, etc.

During the Winter, History Honours student Nathan Ince  catalogued the remaining audio, photo, slides  and video documents, thanks to an I-CUREUS grant.  Mr. Brownstone is actively involved in the project by writing  descriptions of the material, and comments on the old material.  This represents a precious collection for historians of humanitarian aid, philanthropy, public policy and advocacy.


Meyer Brownstone at home, in Toronto, speaking about his collection of papers concerning Oxfam Canada in Salvadorean refugee camps in Honduras in the mid 1980s, Fall 2012.

You can see a short video of his account of life in the refugee camps of Honduras. (by permission of the film  director) The papers concerning his stay in the socialist government of Saskatchewan of Tommy Douglas as an expert in agriculture are at the Provincial Archives of the province. Read his recollection of being in South Africa with Mandela, when he voted first.

The early papers of Oxfam Canada (from 1962 to the mid 1980s) are at Library and Archives Canada. Those of the closed regional office of Oxfam Calgary are at the Glenbow Archives. The papers of the regional office of Oxfam St John’s, due to close this Spring, are in part at the Provincial archives of Newfoundland, where they are awaiting cataloguing.

The archives of Oxfam UK were recently  given to the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, where they are currently being catalogued.  See the report of their progress, and  the BBC report of last year.

My Course on the history of humanitarian aid starts today


This course surveys the history of humanitarian agencies from their missionary and anti-slavery ancestors to the present times.  It teaches students the vocabulary useful for the understanding of humanitarianism. It introduces them to the historiography of the subject, the debates, approaches, explanations and interpretations of the major scholars, and the documents they use to write this history.  It presents the main events, the actors, ideas, institutions, and questions. It helps make sense of the current situation of humanitarian aid, which is complex and controversial, and which represents an increasingly large domain of social life and public action.

See outline

Documentary on the Federal Election of 1945

Watch my interview on the CPAC program aired last Sunday : The Gentle RevolutionThe campaigns jpeg

The Gentle Revolution – The Federal Election of 1945 By all accounts 1945 was a pivotal year in Canada’s history; it marked the end of six years of war, soldiers were returning home and Canadians were looking to create a fairer, brighter future. On June 11, 1945 Canadians headed to the polls for the country’s 20th general election. The majority voted for a new social order and with it came the birth of the welfare state. It transformed the lives of many Canadians and redefined the way our nation was run.