Many Canadians Get Failing Grade in Canada’s History

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Team Canada Standing Proud in Sochi
Team Canada Standing Proud in Sochi - Photo Olympic.ca

Canadians Not Up on History

TORONTO – NEWS – They say you either learn your history or you are doomed to repeat it. That was the message atop the blackboard in my Grade Eight History class. Learning history has remained an interest ever since.

With the advent of the History Channel and the Smithsonian Channel on television, and the many places online where people can learn about events in the history of Canada or the United States, it appears many people are still not gaining a full appreciation for the rich history of our lands.

Canadians Getting Failing Grade in History

In face, a new survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Historica Canada revealed that a sizeable portion of Canadians do not know some major historical facts about the country they call home.

Prime Minister John A. MacDonald
Prime Minister John A. MacDonald
  • One in four (28%) could not correctly identify that 1867 was the year of Canada’s Confederation, with one in five (18%) not venturing a guess. Only Albertans (90%) and Ontarians (75%) are more likely than the national average to know Canada’s Confederation year.
  • A similar proportion (26%) could not correctly answer that Sir John A. Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister, with one in ten (11%) having no guess at all.
  • When asked what important events will occur in 2017, barely half (56%) correctly say that Canada’s 150th birthday occurs in 2017, while handfuls say it is either Centennial of the First World War (9%, actually in 2014), the Pan-Am Games (4%, happening in 2015), the 50th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (4%, happening in 2032) and the PyeongChang Olympics (2%, happening in 2018). One in four (26%) couldn’t venture a guess.
Team Canada Standing Proud in Sochi
Team Canada Standing Proud in Sochi – Photo Olympic.ca

Canada 150: A Defining Moment for Most to Attend…

Interestingly, while slightly more than half are aware of Canada’s 150th anniversary happening in 2017, when informed of the significance of 2017, most (71%) ‘agree’ (24% strongly/47% somewhat) that they plan to attend a Canada 150 activity or commemoration three years from now, while three in ten (29%) ‘disagree’ (9% strongly/20% somewhat) that they will.

Albertans (85%) and seniors (78%, ages 55+) are most likely to attend one of these events, followed by residents of the Prairies (76%), Ontario (76%), British Columbia (75%), Atlantic Canada (74%), younger Canadians (69%, ages 18-34), middle-aged Canadians (67%), and Quebecers (53%).

A majority even ‘agrees’ that this anniversary will be or should be a more defining moment than…

  • The Vancouver 2010 Olympics – 74%
  • Canada’s Centennial in 1967 – 68%
  • The Canada/Russia Summit Series of 1972 – 67%
  • The Patriation of the Constitution in 1982 – 64%
  • The creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 – 62%
  • Confederation in 1867 – 59%
  • The Battle of Vimy Ridge – 57%

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between June 17th to 19th, 2014 on behalf of Historica Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadians adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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