Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative
January 23, 2017

Several years ago I travelled to northern Vancouver Island to visit a pair of museums/cultural centres that tell the story of one of the most flagrant art heists in Canadian history. But this robbery was not carried out by cat burglars or art thieves; it was the work of the Canadian government on behalf of the Canadian people.

The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre at Cape Mudge is on Quadra Island, a brief ferry trip from Campbell River, and...

January 12, 2017

Now that Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations have kicked off, I am sure you are wondering: what was going on in Vancouver in 1867?

The short answer: not much. But something.

By 1867, Burrard Inlet had been occupied by a variety of indigenous peoples (Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish) for millennia. It was, in the words of historical geographer Cole Harris, a “native place.” In what is now...

January 8, 2017

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I have used this photograph (Glenbow Archives ND6742) several times over the years in different history textbooks I have written to illustrate the destitution in Western Canada during the Dirty Thirties. It shows the Fehrs, a Mennonite family from the Saskatoon area, stranded in Edmonton in June 1934. It is a heart-breaking image depicting...

January 6, 2017

Tilikum, the most infamous orca in the world, has died.

In 2010 Tilikum was participating in a whale show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, when he pulled a trainer, Dawn Brancheau, into the tank and held her under the water until she drowned. That incident was highlighted in the documentary film Blackfish which alleged...

January 4, 2017

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New Year's Day, the beach at Duck Bay on Savary Island, B.C. 

It is just gone noon and no one else is about. The footprints belong to the members of our small party; the rising tide will soon wash them away. The mountain ranges of Vancouver Island are visible in the distance.

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