Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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Ormsby Review Turns Five

October 17, 2021

The Ormsby Review, Canada's only provincial on-line book review site, has turned five years old.

Named for the pioneering BC historian Margaret Ormsby, the site was the brainchild of its founding editor, Richard Mackie, and his co-conspirator Alan Twigg. Five years after they launched it, Ormsby has published 1250 reviews of books by British Columbia writers and about British Columbian subjects. As well as a smattering of essays and memoirs. All available gratis.

Congratulations to Richard, the engine that keeps the whole thing going, who has written a brief history of the site.

The Ormsby survives on donations. If you'd like to make one, here's where.

October 7, 2021

The new book is out and, I hope, selling briskly. As well, the first reviews are appearing. Here is a very nice one by Patricia Roy on the Ormsby Review website.

Professor Roy has written a great deal about Vancouver, including her own illustrated history published back in 1980. In other words she knows whereof she...

September 16, 2021

For the past couple of years a group of young filmmakers has been hard at work on a documentary series about the history of British Columbia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of 1871, the year the province became a province.

(Full disclosure: I played a very small part in the project, as a consultant and appearing briefly as one of the talking heads.)

The result, a four-part series titled British Columbia: An Untold History, will be premiering on the Knowledge...

September 7, 2021

No matter how many times it happens, the arrival on the doorstep of a new book is always special.

Well, it happened again today. My new history of Vancouver is out. Look for it in your favourite bookstore within a couple of weeks.

July 22, 2021

When I was a kid growing up on Vancouver’s west side the book shelves in the living room of my family’s home contained the usual middle-brow reading of the 1950s – Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic nuclear novel On the Beach; the odd Thomas Costain and Pearl Buck title; some volumes of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. But the only book of my parents that I ever took down from the shelf was a copy...

July 19, 2021

To its credit the Vancouver Sun has signed up Steven Hume to write a series of historical articles to commemorate BC's sesquicentennial of Confederation.

Hume, who is one of BC's finest writers, began his account of the province's history last Saturday and it contines for the rest of the week. 

"And so in 1871, the fire bells rang — as much in...

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