Forward Into the Past
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Previous Suggestions

<PS> Beowabbit: new light on an ancient poetic tradition
<Pseudo-History session> "What we quarterstaffs we be not. We be men of tribe of Boxjutes" And so begins Beowabbit a forgotten poem of 373 lines now seldom seen except in bootleg copies seen in the hands of English minors. To understand Beowabbit is not only to open a window into the Dark Ages but to air-out the bedding of academia and beat the rugs of popular culture and to truely appreciate the inestimable influence of this poem, through its many imitators, to this very day.
Speaker: Bruce Blackistone

<PS> The Viking Settlement of North America according to Ragnarr Njalsson
<Pseudo-History session> Ragnarr's work documents a conspiracy by the family of Eirik the Red to hide a large North American colony and its associated sources of revenue from the Norwegian King so as not to attract the tax collectors. As the colony grew and the weather patterns cooled in the mid-14th century the Greenland front was no longer viable and had to be abandoned with the residents withdrawn to the North American bases. These North American locations were wiped out by the English and French to destroy Scandinavian claims to North America. Come and Unearth the True History of North America according to Ragnarr's Theory.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

50 Shades of History - a look at non-traditional sexual practices in history
Although BDSM has become more mainstream thanks to a recent publication, the history of these and other lifestyle choices reaches back into the depths of time. Spend an hour with Bernie looking at the history and important milestones of this subculture including the Lupercalia, and the Marquis de Sade himself.
Speaker: Bernie Roehl

Advanced Embroidery (2 hours)
This class if for those who have a grounding in embroidery, though they may not know advanced techniques. Students should bring with them a floor frame to allow for hand's free stitching. (though if they do not have one, a communal one will be provided) If students have their own frame, please have pre-mounted linen/cotton ready to work. Embroidery threads will be provided. Students must have a working knowledge of satin stitch, as well as chain, running stitch and split stitch. No knowledge of couching, beading or more complex stitches required. As time permits we will explore a variety of couching stitches, beading, goldwork, and some more complex stitches and colour application work. Historic periods and techniques will be touched upon. There is no fee (although a donation of a loonie helps keep the teaching going if you can spare it).
Speaker: Larisa Kallaur-Telford

Advanced Glass Bead Making
For those who have done some Lampwork (or the intro class). This session will explore additional techniques beyond those covered in the introduction. This session is restricted to those aged 16 or older.
Class is limited to 12 people.   There is a materials fee of $2 for this class.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

Advanced Tablet Weaving
This hands-on class is for those individuals who have some experience with tablet weaving or who have attended the introductory class. We will be working on double-faced weaves and 3/1 twills. Participants should bring cards warped up in two colours threaded 2x2 (this is the set-up that will be used in the introductory class). Observers are more than welcome.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

Anatomy of a steam engine through disaster and destruction
The title pretty much covers it don't you think?
Speaker: V.M. Roberts

Beginner's Egg Tempera
A beginners hands on class on Egg Tempera painting with some basic historical background on it's usage. In this class participants will learn how they can combine egg yolk, powdered pigment, and water to create paint. We will play with making paint and talk about how it's a unique medium that dates back to 4th c. AD. Participants do not need any experience with painting the only scary part is breaking an egg.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Heather Burger

Beginner's Egg Tempera (session2)
A beginners hands on class on Egg Tempera painting with some basic historical background on it's usage. In this class participants will learn how they can combine egg yolk, powdered pigment, and water to create paint. We will play with making paint and talk about how it's a unique medium that dates back to 4th c. AD. Participants do not need any experience with painting the only scary part is breaking an egg.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Heather Burger

Behind the Black Sails
Come explore some of the history that inspired STARZ Original Series about the Golden Age of Piracy. Much is not known about the historical figures that appear in this work of fiction, but how does what we do know line up with what we're seeing on screen?
Speaker: John Wignall

Blow Me Down - Further Investigations of Human Powered Air
In 2016 two experiments undertaken to further explore the possibilities of human powered bellows providing air blast for pre-Medieval bloomery iron smelting furnaces. The first used multiple small bellows linked via a central air bladder. This experiment was undertaken at the SCA 50th Event in June. The result was at best a 'proof of concept', but revieled an interesting social dynamic. The second was at the ReARC conference in November, employing elements learned at the ARTifacts - Pruszkow Archaeological Festival in September.
Speaker: Darrell Markewitz

Braiding and Cords
Round table on braiding. An open discussion on various historical and traditional methods of making braids and cords from yarn and string. We will include kumihimo, fingerloop, slyng, and ceinture flechee. Feel free to bring along your own examples.
Speakers: Melanie Robbins, Jo Duke

Canadian History 1001: The Bloody Norse Arrive!
In honour of Canada's 150 anniversary, this session will break down the Vinland sagas into a series of memes simple enough for even modern students to comprehend the events surrounding the arrival of the Norse in North America.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Chainmail - Beyond the Basics (2 hours)
Beyond the basics: mail is the most versatile, flexible armour ever developed. Able to be shaped to every part of the human form mail can also be the basis for wonderful jewelry. In this class you will learn how to make the King Chain, French Rope, and Foxtail patterns. A basic understanding of chain mail is required. Bring two pairs of pliers. In addition to more complex patterns with standard rings this session will explore the use of smaller rings and precious metal rings in decorative patterns and jewelry. Bring two pairs of pliers.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Chainmail for Beginners
Imagine a shirt made of thousands of tiny metal rings, all linked together to form a cloth impenetrable by sword. Why was chainmail the ultimate armour for warriors for over a thousand years? Chain mail is so versatile it is still in use today. You can see it on divers in shark-infested waters and on the hands of your local butcher. While you learn to knit your own bracelet that you get to take home we'll discuss the historical background of this wonderful armour. Please bring two pairs of pliers.
Class is limited to 10 people.   
Speaker: Jerry Penner

Climates of Change: Environmental History as Hands-On Pedagogy
Steven Bednarski and his students discuss their four-year experiential learning adventure to Herstmonceux Castle, where, each summer, they conduct excavations and visit archives for clues about late medieval climate change. The students, in conjunction with an international team of archaeologists, historians, palaeoclimatologists, and environmentalists, seek to understand the impact of changing weather and climate conditions on lived human conditions in southern England circa 1450. During the keynote, Bednarski and his junior research partners will report on finds, techniques, and the benefits of experiential learning.
Speakers: Steven Bednarski, Michelle Serrano-Sandoval

Diagonal Braiding
Simple weaving, without a loom. Diagonal finger weaving is a technique common to Danish garters (Viking era or earlier), to the ceinture flechee belts of the voyageurs and coureurs des bois (17th and 18th century), and to various cultures worldwide. Learn this method of finger manipulation of yarn to make decorative and practical straps.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $2 for this class.
Speaker: Jo Duke

Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived
Henry VIII and his Six Wives Exposed!! The wives of Henry VIII of England continue to fascinate us 458 years after the death of the King. Come meet the Queens and discover for yourself why their lives continue to inspire books, plays, and films.
Speaker: Catherine Ollerhead DeSantis

Experiment and Experience
Re-enactors, Recreation, Interpreting, Experimental Archaeology, experiential archaeology - so many words. Are they the same? After giving a base for comparison this session will explore the background of Experimental Archaeology. We will also spend time discussing how to turn your interests into an experiment.
Speaker: Neil Peterson

Feet firmly in the past - Shoes from the Viking Age 800 - 1050 (2 hours)
Taking examples from Viking Age artefacts from England, Norway, Denmark, and Germany, this session will present an overview of the styles, methods of construction, materials, and likely wearers of shoes at the end of the first millennium in Northern Europe. A simple method of pattern making will be demonstrated as well as the more common stitches employed during shoe construction. If time allows, attendees will be guided through the process of producing shoe patterns of their own.
Speaker: Marcus Burnham

First Experiments
A Mead-iocre Experiment - For centuries mead has been consumed and celebrated in poems, sagas, and even modern depictions of the past. To some it is the drink of warriors, others a drink for commoners but it is these depictions that we sought out to research and discover the truth for ourselves. As well, if mead was so common in the past, surely a group of educated young women can create a successful batch. This paper will divulge the experimental process followed by Cassandra Brooks, Jordon MacArthur and Tina MacKinnon on mead making and research.

Making the Middle Ages a Little Brighter - Exploring Medieval Candle Materials and Their Efficiency. While it is well known that candles were used and present before and during the Middle Ages, specifics about these candles, such as efficiency, brightness, and practicality as light sources, are unknown. This presentation is an analysis of the effectiveness of the two main types of candles in the Middle Ages: 'tallow' and 'beeswax'. One of each type of candle was burned while being monitored by a lux meter, visual observation, and video recording. The results demonstrate how beeswax candles are significantly more effective than tallow candles as they are brighter, more efficient, and less malodorous. These findings, while giving us a definitive answer in these categories, also expose a variety of different research that scholars can test. Variables such as the type of wicks used, how long it takes to make the two materials, the temperature of the room and the use of rushlights as a source of heat are all examples that we did not utilize but could vastly alter the results of our experiment. Overall, however, the experiment was successful in justifying the preferred use of beeswax over tallow based on the three elements we observed.

Speakers: Grant Ginson, Cassandra Brooks, Tina KacKinnon

Flint and Steel Fire Striking
Learn how to build a fire, and light it using flint and steel. This will be a hands on course, where you'll get to try the techniques and practice making fire. Note that this involves "real fire", so breathing smoke and burning your fingers are potential dangers.
Speaker: Mark Patchett

Food and ambience, translating the medieval feast to the modern table
A discussion of the elements of a medieval feast and transitioning them to a modern dinner table. How to stage it, ideas for recipes, and ambiance will all be covered in this open session.
Speaker: Janet Lloyd

Introduction to Embroidery (2 hours)
This is a class for those who have never done embroidery or have only learned how to thread a needle. The basics will be taught including: how to stretch fabric; differences between between types of thread; basic stitches; where to go to get historical ideas for future projects. This class will give a good start to anyone who wants to learn the most commonly used historic stitches. Demonstrations of each stitch will be followed by a short period of experimentation and assistance as required by the student. There is no fee (although a donation of a loonie helps keep the teaching going if you can spare it). Materials will be provided but please bring a hoop if you have one.
Class is limited to 16 people.   
Speakers: Larisa Kallaur-Telford, Eeva the Restless

Introduction to Glass Bead Making
This class will cover the style of bead making known as Lampwork. A history of bead making, their uses, and trade. The modern process of lampworking to make a bead will also be demonstrated. This session is restricted to those aged 16 or older.
Class is limited to 12 people.   There is a materials fee of $2 for this class.
Speaker: Rob Schweitzer

Introduction to Tablet Weaving (2 hours)
This is a hand's on practicum where participants will be taught the basics of tablet weaving. Tablet weaving is a narrow-band weaving technique that is commonly used for belts, straps and decorative edging on clothes. The technique (also known as card weaving) developed independently in a number of countries and has been used for over a thousand years. Participants will learn how to string their own bands and will learn a variety of pattern techniques. Observers are welcome.
Class is limited to 8 people.   There is a materials fee of $12 for this class.
Speaker: Yvette Foster

King or Queen? Who really holds the power? An analysis of medieval chess
This session will be a mix of a paper presentation and a workshop. The first 15 minutes (ish) will be a presentation about a paper that focuses on analyzing the difference between the role of the Queen in medieval chess compared to her role in modern chess and what that could say about how the different societies viewed gender. The remaining 35 minutes will be a facilitation of a few games of chess where you will be able to play using the rules that were in place in the Middle Ages. So you get to experience the best of both worlds!
Speaker: Stavros Stavroulias

Kumihimo - The Art of Japanese Cordmaking (2 hours)
A hands on intro to Kumihimo. Starting with a short history and intro to terms, tools and uses. Participants will then be shown how to set up and create a Kumihimo braid. This class will cover both beginner and some intermediate techniques.
Class is limited to 10 people.   There is a materials fee of $5 for this class.
Speaker: Melanie Robbins

Let's talk food
A general discussion about food, feasts, manners and customs. suitable for folks of all levels, and conducive to questions and contributions. A good precursor to those wanting to go to the food and ambience class.
Speaker: Janet Lloyd

Lost Wax Demonstration
This will be a demo of lost wax casting, with a detailed description of the entire process. We will discuss the period methods and materials used for the mould making, as well as what was used as the encapsulation and casting mediums. I will be doing a pewter cast at the beginning of the class in an already evacuated mould, and at the end of the class we will break the mould open to see the end results. Hand-outs will be provided with source references, and web pages.
Class is limited to 30 people.   
Speaker: Corey Bott

Morris Dancing (2 hours)
In this workshop we will present two styles of Cotswold Morris Dancing. This is a heavy participation workshop. Comfortable footwear is recommended. Styles demonstrated are the evolution of a living tradition of dance in England. Historical traces of the dance include arrest records in the 1300s and carbon dating of the Abingdon Horns to about 1000 years. Morris Dancing originating in the Cotswold wool market towns features steps and style details particular to each village. It was danced to mark the agricultural cycle of the year at various community events, but is now also danced year round. Typically, Cotswold dances feature long sticks or long hankies. We will demonstrate the styles of a few villages and teach you a dance from each of two of them.
Speaker: Roy Underhill

Naalbinding 101
This will be an introductory hands-on class aimed at beginners. Come learn the basics of naalbinding, (sometimes called single-needle knitting) a textile craft used in medieval times. We will cover a basic naalbinding stitch you could use to make a hat, socks or mittens. Some wool yarn and a wooden naalbinding needle will be provided, but feel free to bring your own wool yarn and needle if you have either.
Class is limited to 8 people.   
Speaker: Mark Patchett

Norse Practical Jokes
Everything is funnier with a sword in your hand.
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Sword Dances
Some sword dances are all about the hitting, but some are more...twisted. Come try out traditional sword dances from Scandinavia, Scotland, and France. Wooden swords will be provided (in case you were worried).
Speaker: Richard Schweitzer

Symmetry and asymmetry in Viking Age Dress
There have always been hints that the Viking-Age dress custom used asymmetry: overlapping caftans, for example, are fundamentally left-right asymmetrical, and front-back asymmetry is very common in images of women's skirts. The discovery of the Hårby Figurine, however, demonstrates a rather surprising left-right asymmetry used within the tradition, and invites a deeper look at the evidence for how Viking Age fashion viewed symmetry. This paper examines iconographic and other evidence in an attempt to establish some ideas about how both left/right and front/back asymmetry may have been used, and proposes the theory that some garments, formerly assumed to be very different may represent the same garment type viewed from different perspectives.
Speaker: V.M. Roberts

The Mongol Art of War
Though they are often depicted as a murderous barbarian horde who committed casual atrocities as they rampaged across Eurasia, the Mongols in fact practiced sophisticated (if ruthless) tactics and always had a wider strategy in mind. The Mongol art of war was rooted in their nomadic identity and demonstrated a high degree of creativity and flexibility, as the Mongols were willing to learn from victory, defeat, and the people they conquered.
Speaker: Alicia McKenzie

The Shosoin Repository
A presentation on the Shosoin Repository collection of items from 6th - 8th century Japan looking at what factors lead to the creation of this one of a kind collection and some of the items included in it.
Speaker: Melanie Robbins

Topics on Climate Change
Climate Change in 14th Century England - This paper examines the link between climate change in fourteenth-century England and the transmission of malaria. During the "Little Ice Age", cooling temperatures and increased precipitation resulted in the expansion of English marshlands; since mosquitoes, the vectors of malaria, breed exclusively in stagnant water, this change in climate could correlate to an increase in the transmission of malaria. This paper also explores the methodology of studying Medieval diseases.

Climate and the Crusades: Interpretations of Natural Disasters in "the Land Beyond the Sea" - This presentation provides a brief survey of how people in the Crusader States sought to make sense of earthquakes, plagues, and signs in the sky. The Franks and their Near Eastern neighbours all combined classical, scientific, and theological elements in their perception of disasters, giving valuable insight into their intellectual foundations and worldviews. Bio: Stephen Casta is a Masters student in medieval history at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on perceptions of the environment in the Near East during the 12th century. He enjoys delving into the Crusades, calamities, and cross-cultural interactions.

Speakers: Sonya, Stephen Casta

Viking Submarine Navigation as a possible explanation for the Loch Ness Monster
In this lecture, I will explore the possibility that the Vikings could have built a submersible version of their famous longships. With a dragon figurehead at the prow, it would have resembled a Plesiosaur. Cruising just below the surface, with the figurehead sticking above, this would present a striking image, closely resembling the classic description of the Loch Ness Monster. It is also possible that the inspiration went the other way-round: sea-monsters - which may have been more numerous in the Viking era - may have inspired the Vikings to build submersible craft.

Such a craft is entirely plausible using technology of the era, as was later proven by Cornelius Van Drebbel when he built several wooden-hulled oar-powered submarines. These, as well as some later human powered submarines (Fulton's Nautilus, McClintock's Pioneer, American Diver, and HL Hunley) proved to be moderately successful, so it's not beyond possibility that the Vikings used one to strike unsuspecting villages without being seen.
Speaker: Fred Blonder

Why Ancient Greece Was Really Kind of Terrible
In this session, Dylan McCorquodale will discuss why he hates Ancient Greece, and why many things you think you know about it are wrong, or at least severely distorted by the bumbling intellectuals of the Renaissance. Topics include violence, patriarchy, sexuality, mythology, politics, and how they contribute to making Ancient Greece generally kind of terrible. Occasionally, grudging acknowledgements of Greece's various contributions to civilization will be made.
Speaker: Dylan McCorquodale

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