CHGIS Partnership

The vision of the Canadian Historical GIS Partnership is to provide a forum for academic and public researchers and institutions, in Canada and beyond, to share data and best practices for mapping Canadian historical subjects on the web. At present we are a group of people who have been using Geographic Information Systems to explore Canadian historical questions, in many contexts, for many years. We collect, research and analyse historical data and use them to make historical maps, build models of long-destroyed landscapes or streetscapes, and do statistical or spatial analyses. We work in universities, companies, and non-profit research organizations. We work, for example, on resource and land use questions facing rural Canadians, growth and development issues confronting urban-dwellers, and the challenges all Canadians face in building and rebuilding our social and physical infrastructure. We are historians, geographers, cartographers, librarians and private citizens who think that looking at our history through a geographical lens can help illuminate many such issues facing Canadians today.

Over the past few years we have been talking about what we can do jointly to make it easier to work on these subjects using GIS, for ourselves, and for newcomers to these efforts. We have seen cases of individual historical research projects and mapping projects that have successfully addressed questions or built resources, but ways of sharing these and leveraging investments of time and energy have been elusive. These frustrations have led to a consensus that Canadian historical GIS practitioners need new and better technological answers to facilitate web-based sharing of useful data and tools. Yet technological fixes are not enough; initiatives to encourage and foster collaboration by overcoming cultural barriers are equally necessary.

This project is the result of those discussions. We asked a wide range of stakeholders to join in a proposal to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a Partnership Development Grant to help us work collectively on these challenges. The grant-funded project will run over the two-year period from April 2015 to April 2017.

Details of the Canadian Historical GIS Partnership team members and of our project proposal are available in the About the project section of this website.

We plan to spend the first year collaboratively researching the options available for achieving our goals and publishing a series of White Papers on these subjects. We will present the results of this research at a conference in June of 2016, and open the discussion to a wider audience. Invitations to participate in these sessions will be broadcast far and wide to the Canadian historical research community. In the second year, we will develop pilot websites putting what we have learned into action. A second conference in June of 2017 will sum up our investigations and determine how to carry the project forward. Again, all parties interested will be invited.

We would like to acknowledge the support from SSHRC and from the organizations supporting our individual collaborators. More details about these may be found on our Project Team page.

We would also like to extend an invitation to participate in this process. Please contact us to be put on the mailing list of “Friends of the CHGIS Partnership” and to stay informed of developments and events.

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