Manufacturing Mennonites: public lectures and reviews


Manufacturing Mennonites: Work and Religion in Post-War Manitoba has received its first review! Historian James Naylor (Brandon University) reviewed the book for Oral History Forum d’histoire orale, the journal of the Canadian Oral History Association. You can read his review here.

Mfg Mennos

I’ll be discussing the book at public lectures in Winnipeg on the following dates:

4 December 2013, 12:30 PM, Fred Douglas Place (333 Vaughan St.)
10 December 2013, 2:00 PM, The Wellington (3161 Grant Ave.)
7 April 2014, 2:00 PM, The Portsmouth (125 Portsmouth Blvd.)

Manufacturing Mennonites will also be discussed by registrants in Canadian Mennonite University’s theology book discussion group “Take and Read” on 9 April 2014.

Share your snack food stories!


As part of the research for a book on the history of Canadian snack foods, my research assistants and I are conducting interviews with a variety of interesting people… a food scientist who has done useful work on potato chip browning; a former candy maker at Nutty Club; and a man the Globe and Mail refers to as Dr. Freeze.

But we want to interview many, many more people with a variety of connections to Canadian snack foods.

Scott-Bathgate (Nutty Club) building in Winnipeg (Photo by Janis Thiessen)

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Old Dutch “Kids’ Bids”: searching for past contestants


I’m searching for past contestants of the “Kids’ Bids” TV shows that were sponsored by Old Dutch Foods, to interview for my snack foods history research project.

The show was developed by Robert Watson of Watson Advertising in the 1960s.

Nancy-Ellen McLennan, Linda Koesveld, Susanne, and Danny Hooper were participants. In blogs, facebook posts, and a newspaper article, they describe the show as an auction for prizes, where bids were made by children using empty Old Dutch packaging as “Old Dutch points” instead of money.

While a photo collection has been archived, there are no archived interviews of these children’s experiences.

If you (or anyone you know) were a contestant on “Kids’ Bids” and are willing to be interviewed, please email me:

Canadian Food History Symposium, 26 October 2013



presents the second annual



Dr. Ian Mosby

Department of History, University of Guelph

A nurse takes a blood sample from a boy at the Indian School, Port Alberni BC, in 1948, during the time when nutritional experiments were being conducted on students there and five other residential schools. (SOURCE: The Canadian Press; Library and Archives Canada)

A nurse takes a blood sample from a boy at the Indian School, Port Alberni BC, in 1948, during the time when nutritional experiments were being conducted on students there and five other residential schools. (SOURCE: The Canadian Press; Library and Archives Canada)

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Canadian Food History Symposium, 4 April 2013

In what I hope to make a regular event at the University of Winnipeg Department of History, honours and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Studies in Canadian Social History class recently presented brief summaries of their original research in Canadian food history.

Tony’s Canteen (SOURCE: University of Winnipeg Archives)

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Book launch

Celebrating the publication of my first book!

Mfg Mennos

The book launch will take place at Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson on Saturday, 27 April 2013 at 2 pm.

The book is a history of 3 workplaces – Friesens, Palliser, and Loewen - and discusses the transformation of Mennonite identity in the second half of the 20th century.

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Why I don’t give exams

I taught high school students for a decade and a half before my current university career. I obtained my education degree in the early 1990s, at the height of the interest in “alternative assessment.” The phrase “alternative assessment” was replaced eventually by “authentic assessment” and finally the term became simply “assessment.” The change in terminology reflected a change in understanding: alternatives to traditional paper-and-pencil testing should not be considered “alternatives” but as central methods of assessing students. Those methods should be “authentic” in that they reflect actual real-world (meaning, outside of school) tasks, and should require demonstration or performance of student skills. As these ideas became the norm among secondary school teachers, the adjectives “alternative” and “authentic” fell away.


From University of Tasmania, “Authentic Assessment,”

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Class discussions

Earlier this year, I led a workshop for the University of Winnipeg History Department on leading class discussions. Below is a summary of that workshop.


In my first scheduled class with undergraduates, I take some time to explain how to read journal articles in preparation for class discussions. (See the suggestions provided in Patrick Rael, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students (Bowdoin College, 2004)). I like to centre the first discussion around a non-threatening text – usually a poem, such as Tom Wayman’s “Paper, Scissors, Stone” or Bertolt Brecht’s “A Worker Reads History.”

Paper Scissors Stone

Paper Scissors Stone (Photo by Janis Thiessen)

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