Foremost is the history of sport in Canada, especially the divisive role money played in the development of sport here. But also, I’ll be commenting on the fascinating evolution of sport itself. In Orillia, my home town in Ontario, the YMCA was the centre of the sports world up to World War II. Since my first book outlined the history of the Y in Orillia, I’ll have insights to share locally. In the larger arena, I’ll be commenting on Olympic history. My research on Walter Knox led me to some interesting and little known sides of Olympic politics and competition. He was an Olympic coach three times, and recorded inside details of that world.
Walter Knox was also a miner, caught up in the gold mining boom in northern Ontario 100 years ago. I've found the stories around those wild days in the bush really engrossing. Right now I'm reading a gem of a little book written in 1947 on the history of mining in Canada, Free Gold, by a man who was there and who met many of the major players involved. That frontier world, the bigger-than-life personalities, the incredible hardship, the bonanzas – I’ll give you a taste of that side of Canada’s history. And knowing Walter, it’s not surprising he found that life exhilarating.
Finally, the physical education program in the Ontario school system has a very interesting history that I discovered in my research. Walter was a big player in both the philosophical development and the execution of that program. In 1920 there were no physical education classes as we know them in the curriculum and no organized team sports. Ten years later there were inter-school competitions in a range of sports and gym classes were becoming a common part of the curriculum. That development had a huge impact on the YMCA too.
There are other topics too - women in sport, the Scottish Highland Games, the elites’ drive to civilize Canadian society – I'm sure I’ll get around them as well. And of course, current events that relate to these historical topics will draw my attention.
I think history is important. Understanding how events evolved and the forces that drove them long ago, gives up insight as to how our world is working today. Nothing happens in a vacuum. History gives us a more objective vantage point to recognize the forces that drive our world.
So, I hope everyone will check in here periodically for a little food for thought.