My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I sometimes blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
Over my twenty plus years of being a professor a number of people have commented on my picture of a young Queen Elizabeth II on my office wall, or, more recently, showing up behind me in Zoom meetings in my basement office.
Some are pleased to see her. Some perplexed. And some vexed.
There is a story behind her presence. In the 1990s we attended an inner-city Toronto church that was planning some much-overdue renovations. In fact, the room where the picture of the Queen was hanging was slated for demolition. I had a hunch that the picture would not be moved anywhere else in the church building, so I kept my eye on developments.
Then one day renovations began…and the picture was gone! In 007 fashion I immediately sprang into action.
I went looking for the picture and found her unceremoniously buried in a pile of stuff slated for a church yard sale. Or even the dump. I grabbed it, dusted it off, and purchased it. I also took it home to safety.
On that day I saved the Queen.
However, for some strange reason my wife did not want me to hang it in the living room, so I then took it to the next best place. My office. And there it remained until college renovations forced me to move it to my home office.
Since that time the meaning of the picture has taken on new significance. My recent interest in the Heath family tree has led to a combing through old family photo albums. And lo and behold I found the very same picture and frame (it must have been a stock picture and frame that many churches purchased for their buildings) hanging behind my parents at their wedding in a Hamilton church.
Armed with that new knowledge, my heroic venture in saving the Queen now has a personal and familial aspect to it – and, in a way that only history buffs can understand, it links me to my now deceased parents.