Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


Legends Revisited

May 10, 2023

Last evening I attended a launch for a new edition of Pauline Johnson’s classic story collection, Legends of Vancouver, first published in 1911. (Except that the new book has a new title, Legends of  the Capilano, for reasons that are explained.) Editor Alix Shield has added several new stories as well as lots of information about the many previous editions of the book. Also in attendance at the launch were members of the Mathias family who are direct descendants of Chief Joe Capilano and his wife Mary who told Johnson the stories to begin with.

It was a grand event and it reminded me that I have my own copy of Legends, pictured here.

This is the edition published in 1922 by McClelland and Stewart with illustrations (or “decorations” as the title page calls them) by J.E.H. MacDonald, a member of the Group of Seven and a prolific illustrator. According to editor Shield, this is the first edition of the book to acknowledge Joe Capilano’s contribution. But not his wife’s.

My copy is inscribed inside “To Mr. & Mrs. Maycock. Wishing you a Merry Xmas, Marge.” It is dated: “Christmas 1931”.

April 30, 2023

News broke a couple of weeks ago that plans are being formulated to release the captive orca known as Lolita back into the wild, sort of.

Lolita has been held in a small tank in a Florida marine park ever since she was captured in Puget Sound in 1970. During the 1960s and 1970s dozens of animals were taken from the Northwest Coast for sale to amusement parks and aquariums around the world....

April 18, 2023

The BC Book Prize nominees for 2022 have been announced (here) and there are not many history/biography titles on the list this time around. The only books I would place in that category are The Acid Room (Anvil Press) by Erika Dyck and Jesse Donaldson, about the...

April 5, 2023

Congratulations to artist and art historian Robert Amos whose gorgeous book, E.J. Hughes: Canadian War Artist, has won this year's Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book about British Columbia. (Full disclosure: I was a member of the prize jury.)


April 3, 2023

I was out mucking about in the woods last week looking for evidence of the Great North Vancouver Streetcar Trestle. Turns out it wasn't that hard to find.

The BC Electric Railway Company opened its first streetcar line in North Van in 1906. There were eventually three lines: one up Lonsdale, a second heading east out to Lynn Valley, and a third travelling west to Capilano Road. That western...