The Secret Life of Canada

A History podcast featuring and
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Episodes of The Secret Life of Canada

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This is the story of how Geoffrey Pyke, a Jewish inventor from the U.K. came up with one of the most mind-boggling plans to win the war. Namely: to build a ship made out of ice. Code name: Habakkuk. Then, what happened when Canada tried to build a test vessel in secrecy, using the labour of conscientious objectors. With special guest, Erin Brandenburg
Al Rashid Mosque — the first mosque in Canada — opened in Edmonton in the late 1930s, but getting it built was no small feat. It happened thanks to the determination of a group of Lebanese Muslim women, led by Hilwie Hamdon, who brought Albertans of all faiths together to help make history.
In the late 60s the National Film Board decided it was time that First Nations got to be behind the camera and in charge of how they were seen. Although short lived, the Indian Film Crew would create films that changed how the NFB operated, as well as the face of Indigenous filmmaking in this country.
Unreserved is the radio space for Indigenous community, culture, and conversation. Falen, your host for the current season takes you straight into the Indigenous stories of this land, from Halifax to Haida Gwaii, from Shamattawa to Ottawa, introducing you to the storytellers, culture leaders, and community shakers from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities across the country. This episode, Mayflower 400: A deep dive into American Thanksgiving explores the merchant ship that was carrying more than 100 people, seeking a new world.
When did the Apple tree arrive in Canada and why do some trees in B.C live over a thousand years? A quick peek into some of the history kept by our land’s oldest living knowledge keepers — trees.
In 1919 almost half the working population of Winnipeg walked off the job in the largest strike in Canadian history. The events that followed led to the creation of a new police force called the RCMP. In part two, we continue to learn about early policing in Canada and why the RCMP are not our country’s only police force. We connect the dots from past to the present to find out why many Black and Indigenous communities still have a distrust of the police. We’ll talk about the concept of the “Carceral State,” continue our journey into old Mountie films and make way too many references to the TV show Law & Order and the Mission Impossible franchise. Then, with the help of guests, Sonya Ballantyne, a filmmaker and writer from Manitoba, and Toronto artist and activist Syrus Marcus Ware, we’ll learn about the grim history of “starlight tours” as well as the modern day abolitionist movement. *This episode contains strong language and content.
Over 100,000 “home children” were sent from the U.K. to Canada to work as labourers, from 1869 through to the 1940s. We find out who they were and what happened once they arrived here. Plus, Alan Dilworth tells us the story of his grandfather, Tom Selby, who arrived in Canada at the age of 8.
The Mountie is one Canada’s most enduring symbols. Found on souvenirs from keychains to dish towels, our national police force are icons to the rest of the world. Weird, right? In this episode, we try to figure out how this happened and talk about: the image of the Mountie in early Hollywood, what Irish and Indian resistance to British rule has to do with it, and why young Canada felt a greater need for policing in the West. With the help of Dr. Winona Wheeler, we dive into the early years of the North-West Mounted Police (precursor to the RCMP) and look at their complex relationship with Indigenous people that, for better or worse, continues to this day. *Warning, strong language and content.
The 1950s & 60s saw a wave of radical movements. Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. The Black Panthers. Quebec and Canada had the FLQ — a showdown that dissolved into crisis. By October 1970, there were soldiers in the streets, communities on edge, kidnapping and terror in the headlines. But those frightening weeks were just the crescendo of a wave of terror and violence that was nearly a decade in the making. This series will reveal the stories of that time through immersive storytelling and the people who lived it: the bomb disposal expert on defusing live explosives, the survivors of terror, their families, and the radicals themselves. More episodes are available at
Today we look into the life of Lucy Maud (L.M.) Montgomery, creator of iconic characters like Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. The lesser-known story is that of the writer herself, who had many struggles within her own life, especially with her mental health. Today we are going to talk about that.
Hosted by award-winning veteran of foreign reporting, Nahlah Ayed, Ideas is a podcast that dives deep into contemporary thought and intellectual history - a meeting ground for anyone itching to understand where we are, and how we got here. There are more single-person households in Canada than ever before, but there remains a lingering stigma that still follows the single woman today. This episode examines how throughout history, single women have been vilified, ostracized and shamed. More episodes are available at
On July 11 1990, the so-called Oka Crisis erupted near the small resort town of Oka. The 78 day conflict between the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk Nation) the Quebec provincial police (Sûreté du Québec) and the Canadian Army would go on to change the course of history. In this second part of a two part episode, Falen and Leah go beyond the sensational photos and headlines to find out what happened during 78 days of resistance at Kanesatake.
From Captain Newfoundland to Shaman and Alpha Flight, what can some of the most iconic Indigenous and Canadian Superheroes tell us about our history? Turns out, quite a lot.
Anniversaries can be a strange thing in Canada, depending on who you are and which side you're watching from. It's been 30 years since an event you may know as the Oka crisis; but that's not where the story begins for this podcast. In this first part of a two part episode, Leah and Falen look at the 300 year lead up to the “crisis” on Mohawk land.
How we should think and talk about Trans and Non-Binary people who lived well before those terms existed? In this Crash Course, we explore that question through the story of Dr. James Barry, a celebrated military surgeon. With the help of Dr. Aaron Devor, Chair of Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria, we also learn how Victoria B.C. ended up with the world's largest Transgender archives. For more information about the archives visit
In this episode we look into the past to try to figure out why some present-day people are still doing blackface — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We talk to Dr. Cheryl Thompson and look at what a minstrel show is, what “O, Canada” has to do with it, and how Canadian universities are connected. We also give a quick breakdown of blackface in entertainment — Kim Kardashian and her spray tan are on notice. (Note: This episode was recorded in January 2020, before the pandemic.)
In this Crash Course we look into the surprisingly young history of Black nurses in Canada and why many of these women had to travel to the U.S. for their education. We also take a look at the story of the Black Cross Nurses and how Black nurses went from shutouts to leaders in a matter of decades.
Why isn't there a Japantown in every major city across Canada? This episode, we look into early Japanese Canadian history and figure out the “Asiatic Exclusion League” is not what we thought it was. Then, with the help of Lisa Uyeda from the Nikkei Museum we connect the dots between internment during the Second World War and the huge fallout for multiple generations. And what happened when theatre artists Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa, found out their families were both sent to Tashme — the largest internment camp in B.C.
Today we try to figure out the true story of Uncle Tom, with the help of Dr. Cheryl Thompson. You may know “Uncle Tom” as a derogatory term. Or from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. But the name’s also linked to Josiah Henson, who escaped to Canada through the Underground Railroad. So which one is right?
In the first full episode of Season 3, Leah and Falen explore the truth behind two very old stories. Sasquatch and Ogopogo are legendary creatures of land and sea — but how exactly did they go from sacred figures in Indigenous oral histories to terrifying beasts and dopey-looking mascots?
We’re baaack! Leah and Falen switch things up and introduce the Crash Course — snack-size history lessons on a range of topics. First up: the history of Friendship Centres, an essential part of urban Indigenous life across the country. (Because let’s face it, we’re already nostalgic for physical gathering spaces.)
We’re not trying to mess with a global pandemic, so we'll be back on March 31st. Until then, here's a repeat of our most important episode and something we feel everyone needs right now: snacks.
Free teaching resources have been developed for select episodes of The Secret Life of Canada! If you — or someone you know — teaches high school history, geography, civics or Indigenous Studies, visit to learn more.
Who has been looking after Canada’s kids? We find out that Indigenous women and women from all over the world took on this job, and none of their stories follow the plot line to Sound of Music. From Confederation to present day, has anything changed for these workers? For books referenced in this episode please visit our website at
It's our first shout out to a living youth leader! Meet Anishnabe-kwe Autumn Peltier. Greatly influenced by her great aunt Josephine Mandamin, Autumn has been using her voice to advocate for water rights since she was 8 years old. Today, we learn a little more about this phenomenal water warrior and International Children’s Peace Prize nominee.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Podcast Status
Aug 27th, 2018
Latest Episode
Jan 13th, 2021
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
24 minutes
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