Most Canadians still unaware of our history, poll shows

Spectators cheer during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa July 1, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie


MONTREAL -- A new survey shows that while most Canadians are proud of Canada's history, many don't know much about it.

Six out of 10 respondents to a Leger Marketing survey, released exclusively to QMI Agency, said most of what they knew about Canadian history they learned in high school. And 84% of respondents said "in general, I am proud of Canada's history."

However, 47% of respondents said they "don't remember much" about what their high school history teachers taught them.

Canada was recently listed by the Reputation Institute as the country with the most favourable reputation in the world. The institute polled more than 27,000 people from G8 countries for the survey.

However, the Leger survey, which polled 1,503 Canadians via web panel, revealed that less than half of Canadians bother to read "often" or "occasionally" about the history of the country that has garnered such a strong international reputation.

Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies, a Montreal-based research organization which commissioned the Leger poll, told QMI Agency that learning about Canadian history should not end after high school.

"Society at large needs to engage in teaching history, it shouldn't be the job only of our high school teachers," he said.

The Canadian government and universities have started to take the lead in increasing Canadians' exposure to their history.

The federal government this year launched Canada History Week, which will run every year from July 1 to 7.

And the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University created an application for Apple products that allows Canadians to learn about military history and contemporary conflicts.

One of the military history app's creators is Matt Symes, a PhD candidate at Wilfred Laurier. He told

QMI Agency that the interactive nature of digital products is better suited for the long-term retention of information.

However, Canadians not remembering their history isn't the only worrisome aspect of the survey results, Jedwab said.

Only 50% of respondents said their high school history lessons "taught me skills that were useful later in life."

Symes said that history teaches critical thinking skills which are essential for success in business and the arts - but it also helps Canadians better understand who they are.

"A critical analysis of the past shows that Canada has largely chosen negotiation over conflict," he said.

"People might think that's boring but I think it's quite remarkable."

Leger conducted the survey between June 10 and 12 and said the poll has a margin of error rate of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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