Choosing a Topic
Choose something that interests you! You may choose any aspect of local, provincial, regional or national history. Some examples include a person, a place, an event or an idea. Your Heritage Fair experience will be much more enjoyable if you’re interested in your topic.
Some suggestions for choosing an interesting topic:
- Choose one of your hobbies. Find out if there is a famous Canadian athlete, actor, dancer, artist, author, or inventor you can research for your project.
- Research your family history. Where is your family from? Does your family have a story about coming to Canada? Do you have indigenous heritage? How does your family’s story connect with other stories in Canada’s history?
- Start with your birthday. Did an important historical event happen on your birthday? Was a significant Canadian born or did they die? Try searching for your birthday on Library and Archives Canada’s #OnThisDay page. If you don’t find anything interesting, you can do a general search for “[your birthday] in Canadian history” and see what comes up – you may be surprised!
- Look through your Social Studies textbook or the websites on our Resources page. Is there anything there that you find interesting?
- Research your city, neighborhood or school. There may be history all around you! Start your search at the Delta Archives or Surrey Archives.
- Anniversaries or milestones can inspire creative Heritage Fair projects. See a list of anniversaries on our Topic Ideas page.
- Historical figures can be a great topic. See a list of historical figures on our Topic Ideas page.
Still need ideas? Visit our Topic Ideas page.
Research is the most important part of a Heritage Fair project and it’s important to get started early! Use as many different sources of information as you can and try to include some primary sources. Primary sources are information that comes from the original source, like interviews, photographs, and archival documents. Use the Resources page as a starting point.
Writing a Bibliography:
A bibliography includes all books, magazines, websites and people used in the research and development of your Heritage Fair project. This can be part of your display or attached to the back of your board. Click Here to learn how to write a bibliography and Click Here to see a sample bibliography.
The look of your display is almost as important as the information on it. Try to include lots of different elements in your project. Your display board isn’t just for text! Try to include photos, drawings, maps, diagrams, and documents on your board as well. You should also try to have some objects next to your board. You could make a model or display books, artifacts, or a slideshow. It’s More than a Display Board gives ideas about how to do create a display.
Your interview may be the most important part of your project. Being able to present your project to judges and the public is an important skill. This video made by BC Heritage Fairs alumni gives some good common-sense advice.
At the Regional Fair, you will be interviewed by a pair of judges. Judges come from the community and include museum workers, current and retired teachers, and other history enthusiasts. Projects are judged on the following areas:
A) Historical Significance
You should be able to clearly explain the significance of your topic, or why it’s important. For example, you could talk about how people’s lives were affected or changed, connections to issues important to people at that time or today or connections to the “big picture”. You could also talk about what it would be like if your event or person suddenly disappeared from history. Would we be better off? Or maybe worse off?
Make sure to use and analyze lots of different kinds of information in your research, for example, books, magazines, interviews, photographs, and drawings. Visits to archives, museums, or historic places, in person or online, are encouraged.
Your project display should be a well-organized and creative expression of your research. Information should be typed or neatly written and lines cut straight with a ruler. Spend some time thinking about how you want your project display to look and how your information will work together to tell a bigger story.
You should be able to answer questions about your project and show that you’re excited about what you’ve learned.
Prepare for your interview by practicing in front of a family member or friend. Try to think about the kinds of questions that the judges will ask you and prepare an answer for each one. Here are some common questions:
- Why did you choose this topic?
- What can you tell me about your topic? (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?)
- What new terms and concepts did you learn doing this project?
- What is the most important thing to know about this topic?
- What makes this an important topic for Canadians to know about today?
- What do you think the world would be like today if your topic didn’t exist or hadn’t happened?
- How were the lives of Canadians impacted by this topic? What does this reveal about Canada’s past?
- How does your topic connect to other important stories in Canadian history?
- What was your research process? How did you find information about your project?
- What primary sources did you use and how did they help?
- What evidence helped you understand the topic the most?
- How did you decide if a source was reliable or a good place to get information?
- If you had more time, where else would you want to look for information?
- Do you have any unanswered questions or more you want to know about your topic?
- What questions did you ask and what makes your focus question a good one?
- What do you think in response to your focus question? Why? Do you think others would agree with you?
- What do you like most about the presentation of your project?
- Why did you choose to demonstrate your research this way?
- How have you tried to make your presentation appealing to your audience?
- Why did you choose this title for your project?
- What’s the “big idea” behind your project or main story you are trying to tell?
- What did you learn about history and how historians think by doing this project?
- What did you learn about yourself and your abilities by doing this project?
- What new skills did you learn over the course of this project?
- What did you find most surprising by doing this project?
- If you did this project again, what would you do differently? The same?
- What did you enjoy most about doing this project? Why did you like it?