Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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Mount Pleasant Walks

July 25, 2022

About three years ago I spent a fascinating afternoon touring Mount Pleasant with an ultra-knowledgeable guide, Christine Hagemoen. Mount Pleasant was pretty much the first residential suburb of Vancouver. Settlement began in the 1890s on either side of its commercial corridor, Main Street south of False Creek. As Christine explained, the community also developed around a creek, the evidence of which can still be seen, at least when you have an expert guide.

Now Christine has published a small booklet, Mount Pleasant Stories: Historical Walking Tours, the first of a projected series. Brief (63 pages) and well-illustrated, the booklet is designed as a self-guided ramble through the neighbourhood. You can order it from her website or buy it at selected stores. I found mine at Massey Books on East Georgia.

I can't think of a more interesting way to spend a summer's day.

July 4, 2022

The Sunday New York Times has an article about some of that city's long-ago literary hangouts. The White Horse Tavern where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. The Algonquin Hotel where members of the Round Table exchanged witticisms. The Gumby Book Studio, a Harlem writers' salon. And others.

Every city has its gathering places where the artsy crowd like to hang out,...

June 27, 2022

I was disappointed last week to hear that the BC premier, John Horgan, was revisiting his government's plan to build a new provincial museum.

I understand that the $800-million project had become an anchor that was threatening to sink his political ambitions. The opposition, and the press, had successfully portrayed the rebuild as a boondoggle and a "vanity project". (Why are sports...

May 18, 2022

No point in having a blog if you don't use it to promote your friends' books.

Jim Marsh and I met at Carleton University in 1973; he was working in book publishing and I was doing a graduate degree. Not long after, Jim became the founding editor of The Canadian Encyclopedia, a hugely ambitious and hugely successful project initiated by Edmonton publisher Mel Hurtig.

Jim has...

May 8, 2022

A very nice review of my new book appears in the May issue of Literary Review of Canada

"As Francis skillfully demonstrates," writes reviewer Marisa Grizenko, "the place called Vancouver has always had a rich story -- if you know where to look and to whom to listen." You can read her piece in the pages of the magazine or it is...

April 14, 2022

I nicked this book from my parents' shelves when I left home back in the Sixties. Don't know why. At the time I had no interest in the subject but I must have known it would come in handy someday, which it has. Anyway, it has stayed with me through many moves.

I was reminded of it when I read Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa...

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