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A Brief History of Herstories

Women, comprising half the population of Canada at any given time, are often absent from public stories. This led me to create a women’s history talk series in 2009, HerstoriesCafe ( to provide public space for honest examinations of women in the past. The talks showcase stories from women who share their personal history or their research work with the goal of creating a broader discussion about how women have influenced Canadian identity. HerstoriesCafe challenges the established masculine framework that distorts or in some cases omits women of the past and their accomplishments. We explore what we learn about women in museums, heritage sites, and schools and we learn about gender divisions and ideals that have been culturally determined, and reinforced through national histories. HerstoriesCafe provides another lens—something that is critical to understanding the past in an equitable way. Talks take place in public spaces and each talk approaches a specific theme, including the arts, education, and civic activism—focused on women’s historical experiences as well as links to today. Recent funding to update the website is in progress with intentions to network with teachers and students to bring women’s history into schools.

Herstoriescafe History Talk Sample powerpoint:

2018-HerstoriesCafe Talk History Sample

Site Authors

OHFA provinicla fair 2018-i-PKxds7Q-XLDr. Rose Fine-Meyer teaches in the Masters of Teaching program at OISE, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on history education in Canada. She explores the history of women and education, relationships between provincially sanctioned curricula, teacher pedagogical practices and place-based learning experiences. She is president of the Ontario Heritage Fairs Association (OHFA), an executive member of a number of education organizations such as the Ontario Women’s History Network (OWHN) and co-founder of HerstoriesCafe. She has published a number of book chapters and journal articles. She is the recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and The Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History (2007).

Her research explores relationships between provincially sanctioned history curricula, textbook narratives, pedagogical practices, and Canadian women’s history.
Recent publications include: “Women’s votes would speak for those who had given their lives:” Suffrage narratives in Ontario history textbooks 1920-1970, Education Review (University of Ottawa, Fall 2019); “In the ‘Spirit of Courage and Sacrifice’: Shaping Collective Memories in School History Textbooks in Ontario, Canada (1921- 2001)” in E.R Vera and E. FuchsEds., Textbooks and War: Historical and Multinational Perspectives (Palgrave, 2018); “Women Rarely Worthy of Study: A History of Curriculum Reform in Ontario Education,” Historical Studies in Education (Spring, 2018, with Kristina Llewelyn); “Gaining Nationhood: A Comparative Analysis of Images Found in Ontario and Quebec History Textbooks, 1920 to 1948,” Historical Studies in Education (Fall, 2017, with Catherine Duquette); “Feminist Reformers: Creating Pedagogical Change to Curriculum in Toronto Schools through Inclusive Content” in J. Wallace (Ed.), Discourses of Teaching: Speaking up! (McGill- Queen’s Press, 2018).

To contact Rose, visit her website,  Dr Rose Fine-Meyer


kate hat Dr. Kate Zankowicz obtained her History Ph.D. at the University of Toronto/OISE in the History of Education.

As a museum education practitioner and scholar with 15 years of experience in public programs, Kate has devoted her personal, academic and professional life to making museums more socially inclusive spaces. She’s also a museum education historian whose scholarly work has focused on women’s educational work in museums, specifically the history of community engagement and accessibility in museums. A social justice advocate who has created community-driven accessibility initiatives in museums in both Canada and the US, Kate currently serves as the Manager of Youth, Family and Community Engagement at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. 



24862264_10155064874071846_9077429721544845034_n (1)Victoria Marsh obtained her BA at Brock University in English and History, and her Masters of Teaching at OISE (University of Toronto). She is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) at the secondary school level with teachables in English and History. She is an Occasional Teacher with the Halton District School Board and the Waterloo Region District School Board. Her research interests center on how student voice is conceptualized theoretically and within Ontario Ministry of Education policy as well as the potential for historical narrative deconstruction through poly-ethnographic dialogue. To contact Victoria, send her an email at



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Our free events have benefited from the support of various grants and donations as well as by members like you. If you would like to support this educational resource or upcoming cafes, please include this information in your contact form response above. Thank you for your continued support!