• Dana Webster

Revisionist History

Updated: Jul 9


With the stroke of a pen, the United States Supreme Court sent women's reproductive rights hurtling back through history, unceremoniously dumping them in the middle ages, aka 1973. And some white Canadians are still screaming for their "freedoms", harkening back to a time in our country when only white people had freedoms (it's not like anyone took theirs away; it's just that other people were also offered to partake).


In light of this, I've been thinking about other aspects of history we could, maybe even should, bring forward to the here and now. You know, just so it all balances itself out. Think of these as building blocks to a retaining wall against which is ballasted the stuff of the bad ol' days.


The Lord's Day Act (repealed in 1992 in Ontario)

Despite the name of the Act, one that brings to mind Old Testament retributions in the form of pillories and rock throwing, I am 100% in favour of rolling up the retail sidewalks on Sundays or (I'm nothing if not flexible) on any one consistent day of the week, The Lord notwithstanding, where no one has to be anywhere or do anything. And, because it's 2022, I'd like to see the wholesale shut down of the internet, phones, and social media for this 24 hour period. Couple it with the kindly voice of every-mother yelling, "Go outside and play! I don't want to see you again until the street lights come on" and my vision is complete. We can call it the Day Of Rest Act.


One Income Households

Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, households could live on one salary. Okay, yes, I know this mostly applied to white people but the point is that the cost of living was way more affordable than it is today. A family of four could own a modest house, a functioning car AND put groceries on the table. We haven't seen that kind of largesse living in over four decades. However, the modern twist to this would be that either parent (mom, dad or mom, mom or dad, dad) could stay home and raise the kids because ... choice.


Pre-Credit Cards

American Express introduced its first credit card to Canada in 1958. Purchasing on credit was born and Canadians have been in debt ever since. There really was a time when you had to pay cash (or trade) for whatever you wanted. There were lay-away plans but those still involved cash and you didn't take possession until the item was paid for in full. The advent of credit brought with it a shocking rise in consumerism, living beyond one's means, and keeping up with the Jones's (no idea what to do with the apostrophe there).


Ontario Place Forum (Opened 1971)

Where you could bring a blanket and enjoy free outdoor concerts on a languid summer evening. Ontario Place was subsidized by the Ontario government which was what governments did back in the day. Quality of life trumped quantity of profit in many recreational, entertainment and sporting arenas. The priciest seat at a Leafs' game in 1969 was $4.50, the equivalent of $40 today.


Pre-social Media (Facebook thrust upon the unsuspecting masses in 2004)

Can you believe we've been living under the yoke of Facebook for only eighteen years? Eighteen years feels like a lifetime which, of course, it is for those born in 2004 (poor sods). I am loathe to find any benefits to this scourge on our civil societies and I am not alone. There is a growing backlash to this forum (and its ilk) for its bullying, political interference, extremist propaganda, misogyny and, well, you name it and it's probably been said and done on FB.


At least, prior to social media, people had to work at getting their message out. Flyers taped to cement poles, snail mailings, word of mouth, actual books and magazine articles researched and written (not to mention fact-checked and edited for typos and shameless misspellings). Nowadays, all you have to do is take 20 seconds out of your day, post a lie, and wait for it to spread.


Kids' birthday parties that didn't require hiring a professional event planner (1960s)

When I was a kid everyone in my grade got an invitation to my party and vice versa. Kids dressed up in party dresses and pressed slacks. We wore paper hats, ate boiled hot dogs and homemade cake and played games like pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. Presents were opened at the party so I could thank the gift givers personally. Loot bags included a few pieces of candy. Nothing fancy, didn't break the bank, and everyone still had fun.


Before The Simpsons (December 17, 1989)

This is a blanket statement: I blame The Simpsons for the decline of respect among families and communities. South Park (1997) jumped on the bandwagon, affirming that sarcasm, name-calling and cynicism were here to stay. The Doofus Dad was born, probably in response to the distant authoritarian Ward Cleaver dads of 60s TV. But I'd say they went too far. Disrespect isn't funny and cynicism is poison.


Men in Hats

Please, please, please, can we bring these back?


Phew, is it hot in here?

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Egalitarian Societies (Ancient Egypt 3100 BC!!)

Yes, we have to go back that far to find equality for women. I found this on the interwebs:


"In Ancient Egypt the basis for the law was primarily dealt with under the basis of your social status** rather than your gender. Women were afforded identical rights to that of a man. For instance, women could own property, carry out business transactions, divorce their partner and were entitled to sue those who have wronged them."


Hunter-gatherer societies can also boast a more egalitarian system as women tended to be the greater "bread winners."


**Yes, this brings its own set of challenges.


Manners

No harkening back to the good ol' days would be complete without including manners - decorum, respect, civility, and goodwill. I miss that.


So, there you have it. I'm certain there are myriad other things I could have included. What would you add?


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