Photo of Ayda Loewen-Clarke

Ayda Loewen-Clarke

Candidate, M.A. Public History

Degrees:B.A. Philosophy and Liberal Arts (Bishop’s University)

Current Program: MA in Public History, Specialization in Digital Humanities (2018)


Prof. Michel Hogue

Academic Interests:

Local history, memory, commemoration, colonialism, public art, digital humanities, museology, and public history.

Teaching Experience:

Introduction to Greek Civilization (L. Gagne), Fall 2018

Description of Research:

My MRE project in Public History examines the representations of collective memory in an early 1980s episode of street re-naming in St. Norbert, Manitoba. St. Norbert is a small, predominantly Francophone community on the southern edge of Winnipeg with a rich history. It was a place of trade for Assiniboine, Cree and Anishinaabe peoples, a Métis settlement, and the home of the Red River Resistance, which catalyzed Manitoba’s creation as a province. By the early 1980s, heritage activists and community members feared that creeping Anglicization threatened to overwrite this layered past. Specifically, a proposal to include generic street names for a new residential area within St. Norbert became a focal point for heated conversations about the region’s history and about the power to represent that past.

This project takes as its centerpiece the debate prompted by these proposed name changes and the successful campaign led by Heritage St. Norbert that convinced the City of Winnipeg to have the street names reflect the area’s distinctive history. It seeks, first, to situate these events within the tense struggles over French language rights in 1980s-Manitoba and, second, to highlight the role of heritage organizations in shaping the debate about St. Norbert’s history and its urban landscape. An urban environment shapes and is shaped by collective memory. Street names, with their pervasiveness and apparent mundanity, can be a powerful tool in the communication of a narrative and the expression of identity. Viewed in this light, the debate about St. Norbert street names offers a view of the lasting effects of place re-naming in a contested space.