House museums act as both sources and suppliers of history. Functioning first as private residences, they are then preserved as commemorative monuments and become living history museums offering theme-based tours led by period-costumed interpreters so that visitors might experience "what it felt like to live back then." In Family Ties, Andrea Terry considers the appeal and relevance of domesticated representations of Victorian material culture in a contemporary multicultural context. Through three case studies, Terry examines Victorian homes that have been repurposed as living history museums that host speculative performances of the past. The credibility of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, William Lyon Mackenzie House in Toronto, and the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada in Montreal, Terry argues, relies on the belief that architectural monuments and the objects they contain are evidence of the time, culture, nation, or people that produced them. Family Ties connects residential artifacts to performance by examining the Victorian Christmas programs offered annually at each site to demonstrate the complex nuances of living history. Through a detailed exploration of the relationship between heritage, living history, and memory, Family Ties illuminates the effects of institutional interpretations of the past that privilege nationalist myths.
Andrea Terry is a historian of Canadian art specializing in critical museum studies and public history. She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“A thoughtful, well-written book that skillfully navigates across a number of areas of inquiry, Family Ties presents new ways of thinking about ‘living history’ and the formation and construction of Canadian identity through these highly charged political spaces.” Keri Cronin, Brock University
“Terry skilfully analyses how artifacts, programming, and animators infuse the stories told in these spaces, as well as how the past is actively reshaped in the present.” Tim Cook, Canada's History
“…a pithy and insightful examination into the ways that history is constructed and retold in house museums in Canada. Family Ties makes an excellent contribution to the understanding [and] usefully expands scholarship on the role of cultural institutions
“Family Ties provides a convincing example as to how living history museums can serve as starting points for critical inquiry.” Then/Hier
“Family Ties includes new and interesting research that advances our understanding of how house museums function to create a unified and unifying memory of a Canada that never was.” Anne Dymond, University of Lethbridge
"Toutefois, dans l’analyse de Terry, l’imagination devient geste artistique. Cette nuance donne de la profondeur à la notion de performance qui ponctue l’ensemble de ce livre et suggère une approche féconde afin de poursuivre la réflexion au sujet des enj