Source: Historica Canada - Facebook

Historica Canada quietly deleted a sympathetic portrayal of Sir John A. Macdonald from its official YouTube page, citing “feedback from educators” on the first Canadian prime minister’s “controversial” legacy. 

The organization, most known for producing the 60-second historical shorts called Heritage Minutes, confirmed to True North that the video was intentionally taken down. 

The Heritage Minute in question, which remains available on Facebook, encapsulates Macdonald’s vision of a nation stretching “from sea to sea,” a dream realized through the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

In the video, the actor portraying Macdonald expresses his enthusiasm for Confederation: “To the east, the Atlantic provinces, then Upper and Lower Canada, across the Prairies, to the Rockies and beyond. A new country made one by a railway from sea to sea.”

Chantal Gagnon, Historica Canada’s director of branding and digital media, told True North in an emailed statement that the positive portrayal was produced before “subsequent controversies” surrounding Macdonald had entered the national conversation. 

“This Minute was produced in 2015, in advance of Canada’s sesquicentennial. The more intense discussions and subsequent controversies regarding Macdonald’s treatment of Indigenous peoples had not yet taken place,” said Gagnon. 

Since then much has been written about Macdonald’s role in famines, the detention of Indigenous tribes and the establishment of the residential school system. 

Those controversies have often included far-left activists defacing statues of Macdonald, toppling monuments and the erasure of his biography by a federal department. Macdonald’s former place of residence, the Bellevue House National Historic Site in Kingston, Ont. has just added a “decolonized” tour, further maligning Macdonald’s legacy.

According to Gagnon, unspecified “educators” prompted the removal of the Heritage Minute. 

“To present a Minute – particularly given their extensive use in schools – without mentioning these other aspects of his time in office is to provide an incomplete image lacking proper context. This view was reflected in some feedback from educators,” Gagnon told True North. 

“With this in mind, Historica Canada put the Macdonald Minute on hiatus while we assess what other accompanying content we can provide in order to offer a more complete treatment.  Historica Canada’s goal is to educate Canadians on the history of this country, including both its achievements and failings.”

Gagnon went on to say that the production will require an “appropriate treatment” to recognize both accomplishments and controversial legacy.

“In the case of Macdonald, an appropriate treatment is to recognize both his many accomplishments while in office – including his key role in Confederation – while also acknowledging those areas, particularly in the treatment of Indigenous peoples, where his legacy is – to say the least – controversial,” Gagnon wrote. 

This isn’t the first time Historica Canada, which receives government funding, has abruptly removed a Heritage Minute after demands from nebulous interest groups. 
Last month, Historica Canada faced pushback after it deleted a video depicting the execution of Louis Riel.