Category: Fun with history

Got it!

By , November 6, 2022 11:55 am
Val seems kind of happy!
How did that personalized ‘license’ plate stay on all this time? Tied by shoelace.

A Halloween Ghost Story

By , October 30, 2022 9:14 pm

On October 29 we went to this kind of spooky house at 60 Salome Drive, near Sheppard and Midland. It’s boarded up and the yard – backing onto the train tracks – is heavily overgrown. It may be the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a haunted house.

There’s a barn out back. It’s in far worse shape than the house. It has a lot of weird doors. Almost everything is very tightly screwed shut.

We walked around the mess of a yard, making our way through some tall weeds and prickly plants. Maybe someone was living ‘rough’ there?

Coming back to the barn, we peaked inside the tiny little window.

Val blurted out, “holy shit, that’s my bike!”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. This isn’t just some random house we visited on a lark. When Val was small he used to go to this house to visit his step-father’s parents. The last time he ever saw this bike was there in that barn, which, by the way, also housed a pigeon coop and a whole lot of other “stuff.” He thinks he last visited there somewhere around 1980.

It felt like archaeology crossed with Halloween. And just a side note particular to us, the bricks on the house are in great shape compared to our house built in the late 1980s. Val says the house probably dates back to at least the 1920s because the stove was hand-cranked.

We plan to research the house more. The lot has most likely been purchased by the neighbouring wax factory owned by The International Group. The factory dates to 1945, so the house is probably much older. Val thinks it was the area’s original farmhouse. We’ll see.

My Sentiments Today

By , April 24, 2021 7:58 am

Especially for my history students.

And Saturday is my Sudoku day:)

The Decade

By , December 28, 2019 9:07 pm

For a history teacher, especially one who does a lot of ancient history, a 10-year period is nothing. However, in the spirit of the end-of-decade lists about everything, here’s mine. These are personal events, not historical.

All at once in 2010: I turned 40, we got a cottage, and the Winter Olympics were in Vancouver. I remember watching the skating while Val cooked us dinner on the camp stove in the garage because our oven had not arrived yet at the cottage. It was a great start!

2011: We got Shadow! After sneaking around our backyard for months and being neighbour cat Dim Sum’s little shadow, we finally lured her in and she has been our baby every since.

2012: I left Student Council (for the first time) after advising since 2004. I also became Student Success teacher, a journey that changed my view on teaching.

2013: We got Bailey! This super shy guy cried on our deck for weeks so we just had to bring him in. He was afraid of everything yet he loved snuggling on the bed.

2014: The last year we visited the US, with trips to San Francisco and New York.  Skye, little Skye that is, my Sunnybrook regular horse, retired. I hope she’s still out there in a field somewhere being her glorious cranky self!

2015: Summer of the Pan Am Games – I watched a lot with free tickets from Val’s then-employer.

2016: I left my job as ACL of Canadian and World Studies. A lot went into that – I missed teaching my department how to do new things, especially at a time when I was so immersed in history with being a contributor to the CHY4U e-learning course – a project I’m really proud of. Our first trip to Bowen Island, BC to visit my cousin Emilie and her family. What a magical place. Read one of the best books on my all-time list, Empire of Cotton. Because of a connection made on the e-learning course, I was asked to become the editor of Rapport, the OHASSTA magazine, and I turned it into a blog. Very proud of that!

2017: We got Richard Parker, cat number four. I rode big Skye, a really professional type horse, all year long at Sunnybrook.

2018: THHSSSC brought February PD back! Good on us. Canada had an amazing Winter Olympics, winning the team gold in figure skating and Tessa and Scott won ice dance gold for the second time. From that high to the incredible low of the fire at Sunnybrook that killed the entire old barn – 16 wonderful animal friends. I will never forget them or that place. Skye lived but got sold away shortly after. Bailey also left us in 2018 – he was too sick to go on and deserved a good ending after his years of loyalty to us. Val and I went on our first bike trip together this summer.


2019: I left Student Council again. I’m very proud of them – they’re doing a great job. Val and I went on our second bike trip. I began to ride again (with Julie of course) at the Horse Palace. My new horse regular became Robin. It was great to see old friends like Queenie and Yukon. Unfortunately, Fletch reached the grand old age of 19 and was getting too sick. We all miss him; Shadow is just starting to come out of her shell after losing her best friend.

In sum:

It’s a good thing I have a blog or I wouldn’t remember what has happened to me over the past 10 years. My personal memory is so bad that I refer to Val as my external hard drive or surrogate memory. My memory is still pretty good for history, strangely.

The last decade was a huge one for me professionally. I’m so lucky to have had opportunities at THHSSSC, OHASSTA, the Historical Thinking Project, e-learning, and of course, YMCI.

Personally, I live a very happy and lucky life. I can’t complain at all – I live in a wonderful neighbourhood, have a generous and kind husband and have animals in my life!

2020 means the big 50 for me. We’ll see what it brings. Best of luck to everyone in 2020!


SWSH PD @ Bloor CI

By , February 18, 2019 10:45 am

While students were off on Friday, we were at the SWSH/THHSSSC/TGTA pd conference at Bloor CI. It was an amazing day. Our group of volunteer teachers brought it together so well.

We started planning in  September. We meaning THHSSSC – Toronto History Humanities Social Science Subject Council! That’s a mouthful. I’m a proud exec – VP and Treasurer (okay, treasurer is not the most fun job in the world!).


Registration ran smoothly thanks to Kathryn, Aaron, Sue, Alicia, Byron and all the other THHSSCers who helped out!

photo courtesy of Ben Gross


I was proud to be the emcee again this year. I’m so short!

Keynote speaker Desmond Cole really challenged teachers with his talk on why TDSB must stop suspending and expelling Black students. Here he is talking to a group of student volunteers from Bloor CI who had A LOT of questions.

photo courtesy of Ben Gross


Our post-lunch subject association session was really well-attended. We had four amazing books to give away. Hopefully the recipients will come to our next meeting.

Thank you a million times to Luis Felipe, THHSSSC president, and his incredibly helpful teachers and student volunteers at Bloor CI. Thank you to the entire school for putting up with us, especially all that furniture moving. Thank you to my student teacher, Karen See, for helping out at much needed times!

We hope to be at York Mills next year for SWSHpd20!

Happy Holidays – Let’s Go To Egypt

By , December 18, 2018 9:57 pm

Here’s an ancient history treat: a new tomb discovered in Egypt. Check it out in this short video:


Or look at some of the beautiful images in this National Geographic slideshow:

The tomb is that of a high-ranking priest with government ties from the fifth dynasty (Old Kingdom). It looks incredibly well preserved and decorated. It amazes me that this civ keeps on going!


TDSB@UofT History Conference – May 10

By , April 9, 2018 2:43 pm

April 27: now closed – registration has taken place.

Grade 11 history students: if you’re interested in attending the conference, please check out the brochure and let Ms. G know by email. The cost is $5.00.

TDSB program_History__Conference_2018

Ancient History Everywhere

By , February 18, 2018 6:48 pm

History is not dead. Consider these recent articles about new discoveries.


Toronto Star via AP

A new mapping technique is being used to find large structures hidden in the jungle where archaeologists didn’t know they existed in Guatemala. Perhaps up to 10 million people lived there.


Discovery of a new 3400 years old tomb in Egypt from the 18th dynasty (my personal favourite dynasty).

National Geographic, AP photo by NARIMAN EL-MOFTY

Indigenous Canada

A new map of Turtle Island – pre-contact Canada – is being constructed. What did it look like, map-wise, from an Indigenous perspective, without modern political boundaries and things imposed by the colonizers? This is a very exciting project!


Maybe Paleo was better?

Moving to a settled, farming way of life, the people of Catalhoyuk gave up something – their health. This way of life was difficult but it was unlikely they’d go back to their hunter-gatherer way, ironically, because they had built up their possessions.

Reconstruction of the interior of a home at Catalhoyuk from

Feb. 16, 2018 PD Day @Humberside

By , February 14, 2018 10:24 pm

Welcome! Check out photos and tweets from the SWSH pd day at #swshpd18

Here’s some shameless self-promotion – I’m the editor of OHASSTA’s blog, Rapport. Please visit and consider contributing. Email me if you’re interested (

Here is my PPT: Becoming_an_Inquiry_Teacher_Feb_2018

Here is one I did about a year and a half ago that’s much more procedural, less reflective: Becoming an Inquiry Teacher



U of T – TDSB – History Conference

By , April 13, 2017 9:14 am

Here is the brochure which lists all the workshops. You’ll need to choose your top 2 for each session. 


Please return permission forms to Ms. G ASAP = first come, first served (I can take 8 people). Bring your $5.00 as well.


Ms. G


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