Since moving to Orillia, Dr. Michael Stevenson, professor of History at Lakehead University, has been fascinated by the Champlain monument.
His research interests as a historian revolve around looking at how military figures and national participation in wars are commemorated, and how societies remember historical figures and events.
Dr. Stevenson will be talking about the untold story behind the Champlain monument at Lakehead’s upcoming “In Conversation” event at the Orillia Public Library on April 21 (6:15 – 8pm)
Despite being almost a century old, Orillia’s Champlain monument has received very little academic attention, especially compared to many similar monuments around Ontario. Dr. Stevenson found this quite puzzling, and decided to conduct some research himself. He found that residents of Orillia and the surrounding area also have an interest in why the monument is there and the story behind it.
Typically for historians, the research experience is quite solitary, and involves many hours spent alone in archives, with no interaction with the general public. During this experience, however, the amount of support and assistance Dr. Stevenson experienced from the community has been overwhelming.
“So many Orillia residents seem to have a genuine interest in the Champlain monument. A lot of people that I’ve met have interesting perspectives, and have their own take on the importance of the monument. It’s been much more of a public history project for me than I’m used to,” said Stevenson.
As for how the Champlain monument relates to the idea of a sustainable community, though it may not seem obvious at first, there is a connection. When asked about sustainability, Dr. Stevenson ensured me that history has an important role to play. “In terms of a sustainable community – which is one that has respect for the diversity of opinions of those living within it – I think historical cases like the Champlain monument contribute to the discussion of a variety of issues in a way that helps support a sustainable community.”
Dr. Stevenson’s “Orillia’s Champlain Monument: Historical Insights” discussion takes place at the Orillia Public Library on April 21 from 6:15 to 8pm.
For more information, or to register to attend the event, please visit https://www.lakeheadu.ca/about/orillia-campus/community-programs/public-lecturesChamplainmonument
Photo courtesy of Deb Halbot Photography