Teaching History through Changing Landscapes

One of the best ways to teach students “Change and Continuity” is to have them walk the streets of their own neighbourhoods. Some may have knowledge of more recent changes, but most would have no idea of what their communities looked like 30, 50 or 100 years ago. Access your local archives and find photos, maps or other primary sources which can trigger student understanding of what has changed around their space and what has stayed the same.

A great Resource for Ottawa’s changing landscape:  http://www.pastottawa.com

I love their “Slide” feature for comparing one location over two moments in history. Students can then discuss continuity (this building is still here, the door is still glass, there are pedestrians), and make inferences about why things have changed (the post office isn’t here because it isn’t as important a service or there are no buggies with horses so the streets needed stop lights etc).

The Ottawa Citizen also created a neat interactive about the memorials and statues in downtown core.


Matt Henderson (winner of the Governor General Award for Excellence in Education) challenges his students to examine “Main Street” Winnipeg in this post. He focuses on the element of the historical concept of Significance. Their task:

 “to create [their] own historical walking tour of Winnipeg. As we walk down Main Street, decide what buildings and location are significant. Using Evernote, jot down notes, capture audio, take photos, shoot some video. Gather us much information as possible about these places and ask yourself what sort of evidence do you need in order to prove that they are significant. As well, try to explain the evolution of this area from 6000 years ago until today.”

Can’t get out into your environment? Try these resources:

The Guardian put together a fantastic series about Dday locations from 1944 and 2014.

Here’s the Guardian’s online gallery comparing images from The Great War and today.