Members Explore Canada in the 1960s

February 13, 2024

Among the most popular perks of membership are our member-only events — especially our historian-led tours. This past May, members took part in a 1960s-themed tour of the Canadian History Hall with Dr. Xavier Gélinas, Curator of Political History at the Canadian Museum of History. While walking visitors through key exhibits in the Hall, Dr. Gélinas shared highlights of this pivotal decade.

Image of exhibition with artifacts from the 1960s

Canadian History Hall – CMH 2017-0043-0028-Dm

The 1960s were a time of social upheaval and change around the world, and Canada was no exception. From the adoption of a new national flag to countercultural protests, Canada embraced a new reality, while also actively expanding its international political and cultural influence.

“It’s such an important period in Canada’s story,” says Dr. Gélinas, “and conducting this tour was also interesting for me as someone who has studied the period, but not lived it. Some of the people who joined us were part of this dynamic generation. When they shared their experiences, it enriched the tour for everyone.”

As members saw on the tour, the 1960s were a defining era for Canada. In addition to welcoming the world at Expo 67, Canada celebrated the triumph of Olympic skier Nancy Greene, were thrilled to hear the musical stylings of Glenn Gould, and cheered when Northern Dancer became the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby.

But it was also a time of national soul-searching. Quebec’s Quiet Revolution revealed a cultural divide in the fabric of the country. The 1969 White Paper further strained relations with Indigenous Peoples. And everywhere, young people were “tuning in, turning on, and dropping out.”

Members also explored the decade’s influence on our current sociopolitical landscape. Although visitors to the Canadian History Hall can explore centuries of history, they can also see how the past informs the present — in this case, how the 1960s influenced everything, including our language laws, Indigenous rights, and the international acclaim of musicians, artists, authors and athletes in Canada.

“You forget how great a country Canada is,” one participant said. “This tour took me back to my own youth. I’ll definitely be bringing my kids and grandkids to the Canadian History Hall to show them what life was like back then, and how the 1960s shaped Canada to this day.”

If you have any questions about our exclusive member events, please contact Stéphane Brazeau at