- Bill Egnatoff
ADVENTURES IN HISTORY 2012-2019
Rotary Adventure programs focus on youth, our future leaders. These short-term and unique adventures help secondary students determine their future studies and potential careers, develop critical thinking and leadership, and build lasting friendships. Rotary Adventure programs in our Rotary District 7040 include High Tech, Environment, and Citizenship - our flagship program offered annually since 1950 in Ottawa.
In 2011, local Rotarians created an Adventures in History program in Kingston, ‘Where History and Innovation Thrive.’ Our first offering in May 2012, ‘Kingston History Live’ drew eight Kingston participants, including two international Rotary Youth Exchange students. They documented their journey through history and later shared their experiences with their schoolmates.
After the pilot, to increase engagement, Canadian history educator-author John Fielding adapted his successful Grant Quest activity for our program. Students on competing teams planned how to spend $100,000 on promoting knowledge of the city’s history. Resource organizations pitched to participants how they would use the funds to promote history. Teams then presented their proposals, adjudicated by local experts.
For the bi-centennial of the birth of Canada’s founding prime minister, Fielding had participants create a mini-Royal Commission Report. They learned about Sir John A. Macdonald, his controversial policies, and his Kingston connections. They reported to City Council on how his legacy should be celebrated.
The program, revised again in 2016, speaks more directly to youth: Doing Time in Kingston: Youth Justice Then and Now. Participants examined case vignettes of youth incarceration since Confederation, learned of youth justice programs today, and shared their thoughts on how to address youth justice issues. Students loved immersion in Kingston and its history. At the archives in the Marine Museum, one participant said, “This smells like history.”
The program has had a definite impact. One participant joined her local provincial constituent’s citizen committee. Another started a support group in her high school.
Rotary Clubs in District 7040 sponsor about 20 students each year. We work with many historically-focused organizations and individuals to pique participants’ interests and show how our history is uncovered, preserved, and communicated.
Partners have included historical geographer Dr. Brian Osborne, The Museum of Health Care, The Marine Museum of The Great Lakes, historical costume designer Eva Barnes, Kingston Trolley Tours, Bellevue House, Don Curtis and Chris Cochrane (History Minutes), The Kingston Archeological Society, The Brigantine, Bryan Bowers, Fort Henry, Kingston Penitentiary Tours, The Penitentiary Museum, The Kingston Police, Queen’s Family Law Clinic, historian Paul Fortier (Jessup Food & Heritage), Loblaw’s PC Cooking School, James Brown and Brown’s Catering Solutions, Youth Diversion, Robin Quantick, Josée Conway, Canadian Families and Corrections Network, and One Roof Kingston Youth Hub. Dedicated teachers coach participants. City Cultural Services staff help in planning, arranging workspace in Memorial Hall and the Council Chambers, and offer historical information.
The program (www.adventuresinhistory.ca) was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and again in 2021 but is set to resume in October 2022. It will continue to address issues of youth justice, informed by the history lessons of the last 150 years and approaches to justice rooted in the history of peoples in North America and around the world.