Tuesday, October 16, 2012


There Is a New Heritage Minute

(screams silently and then really loudly)

No, you don't understand. It's been almost ten years. Why?

“The short answer of why we haven’t made them before now is they cost a lot of money,” says Historica-Dominion Institute President Anthony Wilson-Smith.

Does the delightfully candid Wilson-Smith have more to tell us?

Richard Pierpoint was born in Bondu (now Senegal), captured and sold to a British officer in the U.S. as a slave at the age of 16 in 1760. He fought for the British in the American revolutionary war and then came to Upper Canada as a free man.

When the Americans invaded in 1812, men and women were lucky to live into their early 40s, but he was 68 years old and wanted to fight. He asked permission to form a regiment of “coloured” men, which was initially met with lukewarm enthusiasm, said Wilson-Smith.

“They don’t even give him permission as much as they say, kind of ‘whatever,’ and he goes out and finds other black former slaves, and the sons of slaves, and they formed an all-black regiment that fights for the British, on the Canadian side,” said Wilson-Smith.

So, next time you're watching "The Patriot" on TNT, keep in mind that you might feel more sympathetic to Lucius Malfoy if he was actually Richard Pierpoint, and was all "yeah, yeah, evil King George, he sounds like a monster. Excuse me if IDGAK about your precious liberty, I'll be over here, reasonably pursuing my own best interests."

If you'd like to know more about him, here's a decent place to start.

49 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott


I think I've mentioned before how I TA'ed for a class on Canadian history on film that used Heritage Minutes for an entire three-hour lecture and it was unbelievably boring, which is awful for Heritage Minutes. Buuuut "I SMELL BURNT TOAST, DOCTOR!!!"


@The Lady of Shalott BURNT TOAST!!! We watched that one in my neuroscience class. Yay for watching Heritage Minutes in class


@The Lady of Shalott Also, it's the secret "are you a Engligh Canadian between 25 and 45" test?? Or someone who lived in a US border town???


@The Lady of Shalott And when people burn toast on my floor at work, my first thought it always "Maybe I'm about to have a seizure..."


@swirrlygrrl It is, it really is. I love it.

I smell burnt toast

I am english Canadian between 25 and 45.

The Lady of Shalott

@I smell burnt toast I was hoping you'd turn up!!!

I smell burnt toast

@The Lady of Shalott Sometimes I feel like I comment only on the Really Canadian Hairpin articles, and it makes me seem like I am really into Canada, weirdly so.


Very relaxing and very cool!@m


AH heritage minutes are the bessssstttttttt. I didn't know they were making a new one!


Yeah, this is sort of great/heartwarming. BUT...Harper et al's concerted effort to make us think about the War of 1812 all the time is fairly creepy (and maybe more apparent in Ottawa than other places)(and now I feel bad that my second-ever post is really cynical about something that is pretty cool)


@zobot Uck. Stop reminding me about what they're doing to the Museum of Civ!!


@zobot Seriously! What is up with all those ads?

Ten Thousand Buckets

@mabellegueule I remember the first time one popped up on my bus shelter. I was so weirded out by the War of 1812 Never Forget vibe!

Judith Slutler

this is pretty great, but the video is autoplaying when I visit the Hairpin front page! I hope no Pinners get fired because of it

fondue with cheddar

@Emmanuelle Cunt I keep my sound muted all day for this reason but sometimes I forget. Fortunately today I didn't!


@Emmanuelle Cunt Yeah, it just blasted out in the library. Ruined the feeling of superiority I'd gained by glaring at people with ringing phones.

fondue with cheddar

@questingbeast Your comment made me giggle when I read it out of context in my inbox because I imagined you were talking about a loud fart. Clearly I am ten years old.

double paw?

ok did this automatically load and start playing while working in another window for anyone else and scare the crap out of them?


@double paw? Yup. While I was using my computer with a student and only had the other window minimized.


And then the Canadian government promised these soldiers land, never gave it to them, and then surveyed and kicked them off the land they lived on in southern Ontario. YAY CANADA. Here's a documentary that's really, really good: http://www.nfb.ca/film/speakers-for-the-dead/

Tuna Surprise

Yeah, but in the end America was defeated and that's all that matters.


@muralgirl I AM DISAPPOINT that this one didn't mention that. These are supposed to be about our history, and sometimes our history sucks.




I really LIKED the campiness of the other ones.. and how they admitted a lot of shitty things about our history, in a subtle or more explicit way. The John Cabot & cod one comes to mind: https://www.historica-dominion.ca/node/557
This new one seems so sanitized and I find it hard to connect to the story. And it seems silly that I learned way more from that Toronto Star article than from the minute itself.

fondue with cheddar



@fondue with cheddar I was always more excited about the Hinterland Who's Who clips: http://www.hww.ca/en/media-gallery/youth.html


@dale I guess I should have linked one stage back: http://www.hww.ca/en/media-gallery/


@fondue with cheddar Everything should make you wish you were Canadian! Except your sexy sexy president. USA definitely wins there.


@RobotsNeedLove Ugh. For reals. Though it's not much of a contest.

fondue with cheddar

@RobotsNeedLove Seriously. Sexiest world leader ever? Probably.


@fondue with cheddar OMG you must have momentarily forgotten Trudeau? I'll forgive you this one time. I mean, yes, college-age Obama smoking in a fedora is knee-meltingly hot, but would he ever mock the Queen of England by pirouetting behind her back? Phhhht. Although, yeah, if Obama ever does have a "just watch me" moment I'd probably have to concede defeat. ;-)

fondue with cheddar

@sarabea Sorry, I'm an American who was very young when he was Prime Minister! I know of him but don't know much about him. He sounds pretty fantastic from what I've heard, though.


Also this:

"Canadians are enthusiastic about Heritage Minutes—but many aren’t eager to see a minute made about gay marriage.

The Historica-Dominion Institute commissioned an Ipsos Reid poll of 3,900 Canadians...

While 82 per cent said they would be interested in seeing a heritage minute on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and 80 per cent said they’d like to see a minute on Terry Fox... "

(from http://metronews.ca/news/canada/403120/video-canadian-heritage-minutes-return-with-slave-turned-soldiers-story/)

Also good luck getting a minute on the Charter while Harper's in office.


@planforamiracle hahahahaha. YES MAKE A MINUTE ON TERRY FOX. that is all. and gay marriage. gay marriage is awesome. shockingly, it hasn't hurt the family in our country. no. my views won't evolve on that.


Disable autoplay, please!


I feel like I should know what the K in IDGAK stands for, but I do not. Is it some exciting, spicy Kanadian kurse word? "I don't give a kayak"? "I don't give a kipper"? Someone tell me, I feel old.


@Bunburying "I don't give a kipper" is so charming I'm going to adopt it right this minute.


@Bunburying oh my sweet Trudeau, your second sentence made my maple syrup curdle. Canada with a K hurts my eyes and makes me want to barf :(
I like "I don't give a kayak" though.


Aaaaaaaah heritage minutes! Yesssssssssssssss!
Edited : Aaaaand now I read some of the other comments and want to chime in with complaining. (It's the Canadian way).
I got so excited over "new heritage minute, yay!" That I glossed over the niggling feeling of "this seems oddly patriotic and idealized and they don't say what happened to the guy after the war and that is really weird for a heritage minute" until I read the comments and found that they treated the guys in the unit like crap afterwards.

On the spectrum between History and Propaganda, this heritage minute is a lot closer to propaganda than it should be. And it's good at it because we all LOVE the heritage minutes. I feel a bit cheated now.


@Maladydee I shall hold a small bit of hope that maybe Rick Mercer will parody it & include the 'after' bits.


Hi everyone, thanks for the support of the Minutes and The Historica-Dominion Institute.

Those with issues (@Maladydee @planforamiracle @muralgirl etc.) are certainly welcome to them, and we're happy to hear them and to respond! Our website has a biography of Richard Pierpoint that gives more context to the Minute: https://www.historica-dominion.ca/content/heritage-minutes/richard-pierpoint?media_type=41& In addition, there were certainly issues with land grants, but in Pierpoint's case, he actually took up his land grant from the American Revolution, and sold it while still living in the area. He was given another land grant in modern-day Fergus (instead of giving him passage home to Senegal, see website) where he cleared the land and acted as a leader in the community.

The process of creating these Minutes may appear to produce a "sanitized" version, but rest assured, we are aware of the issues, and tried to convey as much as possible the hardships and lack of respect given to men like Pierpoint.

Steve Pitt's article is great, and very thorough, and we actually used his book as source material for the Minute. Anything that was left out was done for time, not for sanitization. We had no shortage of material to include, but in the end, we needed to focus on a single minute in time, and let the wider context be delivered through other means.

Lastly, a note on the propaganda issue. We were given government funding for the Minutes as part of our War of 1812 programming, but the involvement of the federal government ended when we cashed the cheque. We were given complete creative control over the Minutes and purposefully chose stories that were verifiable and under-represented.

Richard Pierpoint was a leader in his community, and he fought for his and their rights, despite the hardships, rejections, and disrespect he faced. I think we highlighted that very well.

Anytime we can open up a conversation about history (and even historiography) we're happy!


The website is hypnotic AND the gifs are actually links to the old videos that pop up full-size when you click on them! www.gotaminute.ca

Hiroine Protagonist

Gosh, the Harper government is sure excited to keep bringing up the War of 1812!

I'm a historical researcher and I am stoked for history in general but the politicization of these government funded productions is really disheartening.


@Hiroine Protagonist boo to harper. I hate him so hard.


Holy Hell, that was Mr. Malfoy in The Patriot!!!
I love watching movies with HP characters in it. Not the actors, the characters. B/c we all know it was *actually* Mr. Weasley in this season's Doctor Who playing Rory's dad (This therefore makes Rory actually Charlie Weasley. They never showed Charlie in the movies so how do we know it *isn't* true?!)


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