The Digital Historian Project

An Experiential Learning Partnership between the UGDSB and the DCMA


Click on the name of each project for more information

A collaborative exploration of an aspect of Dufferin County history in which students create displays - both physical and virtual - for the DCMA

In-depth research into the life and service of a Dufferin County veteran including a statistical analysis of the context in which men and women lived and served

Students support and enhance their understanding of the lives and service of their chosen veteran by conducting a quantitative analysis of contextual data

A guided exploration of Canada's military history in Europe. Students visit battlefields, monuments, cemeteries and cultural sites to enrich the understanding they have developed over the course of their DHP experience

Students tour important Canadian sites and participate in cultural activities to enhance their understanding of our history. Past trips have included touring Ottawa, attending the Wellington County Aboriginal Heritage Festival, and visiting the HMCS Haida and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.


Click here to see past samples of DHP students' work on these and other projects

Digital Historian Ajay at work in the Lodge

Digital Historian Ajay at work in the Lodge

canada case

In the Canada Case project, groups of students explore a topic in Canadian history as revealed through a set of artifacts and documents in the collection at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives. Students design and curate their own exhibits, both physical and virtual, which showcase historical articles related to their topics.

The Canada Case project is focused on making connections between the little history as exemplified by the museum pieces the students are working with and the big history which provides context for the students' discoveries. Students employ their data management skills through the creation of infographics which illuminate the trends and conditions prevalent in Dufferin County (or in the country as a whole) during their period of focus. 

This year, the overarching theme for our Canada Cases is the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Each topic highlights Canada's growth as a nation over the last century and a half. Click on an image to see our students' virtual exhibits around each topic.

Previous years' Canada Case topics include:

veteran's profile

John Alexander Menary - A Dufferin Veteran honoured by the DHP class of 2015

The culminating activity for DHP students is their in-depth exploration of the life of a Dufferin County Veteran. Students choose a veteran and conduct a deep search into their story, using resources like enlistment papers, memoirs, oral interviews, and public records. This search is mediated largely by DuffStuff, the DCMA's own exclusive database on the history of Dufferin County, but extends to public sites like Ancestry, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and the Library and Archives of Canada.  

Digital Historian Students present their Veteran's biographies at the Juno Beach Centre

Students marshal these sources to uncover the stories of their veterans' lives. These stories are both personal and profound, granting Dufferin County students an unrivaled opportunity to explore and honour the lives and service of Canadian veterans. Students present their Veteran's Biographies at the Juno Beach Centre and can honour their memory through the placement of a commemorative brick which will stand in perpetuity on Juno Beach. 

The Veteran's Profile project also includes the culminating activity for the statistics strand of the data management course. In this component of the project, students gain context for their historical research by performing an in-depth statistical analysis of microdata related to the life of their veteran. Students use statistical software to compile, graph, analyze, and display this data so as to provide valuable background for understanding the story of their veteran. 




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quantitative history

Historical Microdata: a database showing enlistments in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War

Historical Microdata: a database showing enlistments in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War

Students conduct an in-depth statistical analysis to gain important historical context for understanding the lives of their chosen veteran. Students choose an aspect of the life or service of their veteran and explore it through the lens of quantitative history. By pairing data management skills with historical inquiry, students are able to delve deeply into Canadian historical microdata.

Students formulate a research question (eg. What effect did religious affiliation have on enlistment rates in the First World War?) and then create and conduct an online survey to help them craft a hypothesis. They then test their hypothesis by collecting data from a range of historical sources and conducting a two-variable analysis to determine correlation. The insights yielded through this exploration enhance the students' understanding of their veteran and also of Canadian history in general. 

A comparison of enlistment dates between farmers and other professions - clearly farmers were underrepresented at the beginning of the War

A comparison of enlistment dates between farmers and other professions - clearly farmers were underrepresented at the beginning of the War

In addition to this project, students also use their understanding of quantitative history to create a series of infographics over the course of their time in the program. In past years, DHP infographics were featured at the Canadian Federation of University Women Ontario Council 2016 General Meeting & Conference. The Conference's theme was focused on Aboriginal women and four of our students contributed original research and infographics to the meeting.

battlefields tour

An exciting  part of the DHP experience is the battlefields tour that we take as a class. Students tour WWI and WWII battlefields including Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, and Juno Beach. The chance to walk in the footsteps of Canada's veterans - some of whom our students have been studying in-depth for months - is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When a Dufferin County student locates the grave or memorial of a person whose life they have come to know and whose story they have come to tell it is always a moving moment. 

In addition to presenting the stories of their chosen veterans at the Juno Beach Centre, DHP students act as youth ambassadors and have participated in commemorative ceremonies at Juno Beach, Beny-sur-Mer, and the Abbey d'Ardenne. Though the focus of our tour is battlefields, monuments, and war cemeteries, we also visit a number of museums and cultural sites throughout France and Belgium. The tour wraps up with three days in Paris where students can relax a bit after the intensity of the earlier part of the tour. 

Our inaugural DHP battlefields tour was cataloged by one of our chaperones, Mrs. Rankin, at this blog (click on tour diary)

Though the tour is not a required element of the DHP program, it is a truly moving experience for our students as they relive together the history that they have been exploring all semester. 

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Experiential learning field trips

Digital Historians experience a variety of learning environments including several field trips each semester. These experiences are designed to inform and enhance the learning that students are a part of every day. 

Each year, we attend the Wellington County Aboriginal Heritage Festival. Students hear from Aboriginal Elders, explore Aboriginal culture, and participate in Aboriginal heritage activities. 

Though we are based at the Dufferin County Museum, we visit other museums as well. This past year, we toured the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton and the HMCS Haida - a WWII era destroyer. 

We also went for a four day tour of our Nation's capital, visiting Parliament, Rideau Hall, the Byward Market and many other notable sites. The primary purpose of our trip, however, was to explore Canadian military history, including a visit to the Canadian War Museum, the National Military Cemetery, and the Library and Archives of Canada. 

Click through the slideshow below to see some of the highlights of our tours.