Author Archives: lamarkewicz

That Time When Bison Kept Knocking Out Telecommunications in the West

Well into the nineteenth century, massive bison herds of 100,000 or more individuals roamed across North America. They were an important force upon the ecosystems around them: wallowing, grazing, and popping their way across the landscape. There are lakes dotted … Continue reading

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Return to Rouen Part One: the Ossuary of Saint Maclou

My friend and author Erin Kinsella interviewed me last year about travelling to Rouen, Normandy, in France. I gushed about the history of Joan of Arc, elaborate clocktowers, impressionist history, and an amazingly eclectic ironworks museum. In November 2016, I had … Continue reading

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The Surprising Link Between 18th Century French Fashion and the Partition of Poland

These are examples of what is called a robe à la polonaise.  As a non-native but fluent French speaker, I always mentally translated its name as a “dress in the Polish style”, like robe à la française or robe à l’anglaise. Not knowing much … Continue reading

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Mrs. Irvine, the “Dashing Lady Rider” of the 1907 Buffalo Roundup

As someone who is a bit of a bison history nerd, I was absolutely delighted when I found this article published in the November 8th, 1907 edition of the Edmonton Bulletin (thanks, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, you wonderful database you!): It is three … Continue reading

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Faux-Naturel: Constructed Natural Landscapes in Paris

The last time I was in Paris, I had about three hours to kill one morning before I caught a train to Normandy. I asked a friend of mine, an American ex-pat living in Paris, what he’d recommend I do … Continue reading

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A Bison Called Old Pink Eye

Historical newspapers seem to love talking about charismatic bull bison, characterising them as curmudgeonly grumps and giving them cool names. I uncovered this great account of an older bull at Elk Island National Park in 1908 in the Edmonton Bulletin. I … Continue reading

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Read the Plaque: Off the Beaten Track in Elk Island

Stopping to read commemorative plaques is an excellent way to do public history. They tell us what people in the past thought was important to commemorate. They tell us stories about these places. Often people may walk right past them … Continue reading

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February 23, 1876: Costumes for the Governor General’s Fancy Dress Ball

Just as we do today, some Victorians loved a good themed costume party. On February 23, of 1876, the Governor General of Canada, Lord Dufferin, hosted a fancy dress ball. The photographer William James Topley, who photographed the who’s who of … Continue reading

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Elk Island National Park: What’s in a Name?

Beautiful Elk Island National Park! But where did its name come from? Is there an Elk Island on the lake? Or is it all a beautiful metaphor? When I first arrived at Elk Island in 2014, I went searching for the … Continue reading

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#SelfiesWithShakespeare: Visitor Engagement in the Bard’s Birthplace

My father and I visited Stratford Upon Avon only days before the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The sun was shining, the swans were swimming, and the visitors were out in force.

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