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Peer Review

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History

by Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History Team , Peter Gossage , Ruth Sandwell , John Lutz


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jan 30, 2008 by History Editorial Board
Overview: The site offers a collection of nine historical mysteries to aid students in understanding Canadian History using the skills of critical thinking and archival research. Each one of the nine mystery archives includes an average of 100,000 words in English or French plus hundreds of images and maps. Some sites offer 3-D recreations, videos, and oral history interviews. Site users can look at the collections of archival materials and analyze the evidence provided. Students are encouraged to come up with their own interpretations of primary source documents. Teacher's Guides and experts' interpretations are provided for educators.
Type of Material: A collection offering videos, audio components, primary source documents, narratives, teacher guides, and lesson plans.
Recommended Uses: Students of Canadian History and the History of the Americas. All nine mysteries are excellent examples of learning objects.
Technical Requirements: Web cabability and flash.
Identify Major Learning Goals: To teach critical thinking skills and use of primary sources. To teach interpretative analysis of historic events. To acquaint students with lesser known examples of Canadian history, which have national implications and could be used in United States History courses as well.
Target Student Population: Middle School, High School, College, General Ed.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: There are nine mysteries: Where is Vinland?; Torture and the Truth: Angelique and the Burning of Montreal; Jerome: The Mystery Man of Baie Sainte-Marie; Who Killed William Robinon? Race, Justice and Settling the Land; We Do Not Know His Name: Klatssasin and the Chilcotin War; Heaven and Hell on Earth: The Masscre of the "Black" Donnellys; Who Discovered Klondike Gold?; Aurore! The Mystery of the Martyred Child; Explosion on the Kettle Valley Line: The Death of Peter Verigin. Each mystery is divided into appropriate categories that include: Introduction, Background, Leading Personaities, The Event, Interpretations, and Archives. Each category is broken down into subcategories appropriate to the mystery. Each mystery included photographs, maps, and primary source documents. Each mystery has different writers but each site is thoroughly researched. The content could be used in a Criminal Justice or Sociology course as well as history. The site is beautifully done.
Concerns: None!

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Each mystery includes a Welcome; How to Use this Site, Support for Teachers, About the Site, Reviews, and Offers Feedback. Faculty can use Mystery Quests, which offer interpretative ways to use each site. For Example, Aurore! The Mystery of the Martyred Child raises the questions about family violence and the reluctance to speak up and who shares responsibility for a child's death. Heaven and Hell on Earth: The Massacare of the "Black" Donnellys offers interpretative questions about religious conflict and the Search for Historical Explanations, descriptions of life in townships and the rural poverty of Ontario in the 19th century. The Mystery Quest Questions can be easily adapted to contemporary examples, thereby, expanding the use of the site's content. The Vinland site makes an important addition to Colonial and/or United States History survey courses.
Concerns: None!

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Each individual site is easy to navigate. Flash requirements are easy to meet. There are excellent recreations, photographs, and maps. Primary source documents are visually presented.
Concerns: Once in a Mystery site, the way to get back to the Main Homepage is to click on the "Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History. However, this is not necessarily clear to the user. Some of the individual mystery sites have an icon on the left side to do this and it is recommended all Mystery sites become uniform.

Other Issues and Comments: None.