Canadian History Podcasts Worth Adding to Your Playlist
You don't need to be a history buff to find these podcasts compelling. Between the fascinating subjects and fresh perspectives, they'll have you seeing our country in a whole new light.
These History Podcasts Are Highly Addictive
Remember Heritage Minutes, those classic (and sometimes corny) 60-second historical re-enactments that aired on Canadian TV throughout the ’90s? If you’ve got fond memories of Laura Secord and Winnie the Pooh, Minute Women is here to satisfy your nostalgia. In each episode, delightful hosts Grace McNutt and Linnea Swinimer select a Heritage Minute short and expand on its story. Funny and insightful in equal measure, Minute Women makes light of the history you learned as a kid and perhaps forgotten about, cheerfully teasing the weird details that are a part of our heritage.
Read on for more essential history podcasts.
Telling Our Twisted Histories
Words like “discovery,” “reserve” and “school” are innocuous to most, but for Indigenous people, they can be loaded with trauma. In Telling Our Twisted Histories, host Kaniehti:io Horn presents the voices of 75 Inuit, Métis and First Nations people as they relate each word to firsthand stories of genocide and oppression. Filled with honesty, sadness and grace, this powerful podcast invites Indigenous people to reclaim their past and non-Indigenous listeners to consider different perspectives.
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Today in Canadian History
As its name implies, Today in Canadian History relays a notable event that took place on each episode’s day of release. It could be an anniversary—like the Asbestos Strike of 1949 (February 14) and the Dieppe Raid in the Second World War (August 19)—or a birth date—biographical episodes on Tommy Chong (May 24) and Tommy Douglas (October 20). The hosts, schoolteachers Marc Affeld and Joe Burima, have a keen grasp of the material and also invite expert historians onto the show. Best of all, each episode is five to 10 minutes long, making for a concise and satisfying listen.
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Ever heard of the Flying Demon of Sainte-Émélie or the Old Hag of Newfoundland? In Fireside Canada, host David Williams regales listeners with uniquely Canadian folk stories and legends, evoking the ritual of campfire storytelling in the process. Each scene is entrancing: vivid descriptions of spooky hauntings, vicious pirates and creepy monsters from coast to rugged coast. Plus, Williams unravels the mysteries by diving into historical records and placing them in their cultural contexts. Fireside Canada is an utterly beguiling and fascinating listen.
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Curious Canadian History
David Borys is the history professor you wish you had in college. In Curious Canadian History, Borys, a military historian and professor at the University of British Columbia, breaks down the country’s most influential events, from the War of 1812 to the War in Afghanistan. Expect lots of political, culture and sports talk too—highly recommended are the episodes on the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Tragically Hip and women in hockey. With its compact storytelling and accessible approach, Cool Canadian History always delivers.
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If you need a history podcast to dispel the notion that Canadians are polite, give Dark Poutine a taste. This popular podcast covers brutal murder cases and disasters throughout Canadian history, from the FLQ’s reign of terror to the Halifax Explosion. Mike Brown recounts each well-researched and frank tale, while co-host Mathew Stockton joins episodes later on to discuss the stories. Refreshingly matter-of-fact, Dark Poutine wisely avoids sensationalism. And at nearly 200 episodes, there’s plenty to scarf down.
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Canadian History Ehx
By scale alone, Canadian History Ehx is possibly one of the most authoritative Canadian history podcasts out there. There are hundreds of thoroughly researched episodes on seemingly every topic—most are around 20 minutes in length and enthusiastically presented by host Craig Baird. It’s best to start with the podcast’s special episodes: there’s “From John to Justin,” which covers every Canadian election, prime minister and opposition leader, and “Small Town Histories,” which explores such places as Medicine Hat and Halton Hills. Whatever your interest, Canadian History Ehx provides.
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The Secret Life of Canada
By focusing on the histories of Canada’s marginalized communities, this CBC podcast shines a light on the events that didn’t make it into your schoolbooks. There are episodes on the Oka Crisis, Japanese internment during the Second World War and Winnipeg’s queer history, along with accounts of trailblazers like Indigenous distance runner Tom Longboat and refugee advocate Madhu Verma. Hosts Falen Johnson and Leah-Simone Bowen are engaging conversationalists who do an impressive job of critiquing Canada’s history—and celebrating its diversity.
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Strong and Free
Historica Canada, the organization behind Heritage Minutes, also produce history podcasts. One of the best is Strong and Free, a six-episode series about Black Canadian history. Host Garvia Bailey begins the series with her mother Eve, who migrated to Canada from Jamaica as part of an initiative to hire domestic workers during the 1950s and 1960s. From there, Strong and Free delves into stories of slavery and discrimination, while celebrating the accomplishments of Black activists, athletes, musicians and everyday people.
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Witness to Yesterday
Produced by the Champlain Society, a non-profit organization that promotes Canadian history, Witness to Yesterday is the most scholarly title on our list of essential history podcasts. Hosts Patrice Dutil and Greg Marchildon interview historians about their new books, providing an insider’s look into their processes. Expect compelling conversations on a wide variety of topics, with episodes focusing on politics, economics, culture, biographies, gender, Indigenous peoples and so much more. Witness to Yesterday is an engrossing podcast, unique for its scholarly yet accessible cred.
Next, check out 10 true crime podcasts worth adding to your playlist.