Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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Online storymap of Vancouver

February 7, 2024

Joe's Cafe is a landmark on Vancouver's Commercial Drive, not least because of an infamous political protest that broke out there in 1990. When the owner ejected two lesbian patrons for openly kissing on the premises, he touched off a boycott of the cafe by supporters of gay rights. The protest lasted several months until the owner apologized.

What brings this to mind is that the incident is included in a new online "digital storymap" about Vancouver produced by a group of history students at Simon Fraser University. The site combines a walking tour of several important historical landmarks with photos, videos and text. Other stops on the tour include the totem poles in Stanley Park, the Woodward's Building, Oppenheimer Park and the Wing Sang Building in Chinatown, to name just four.

The map was developed with the help of the Vancouver Historical Society and it is well worth a look.

 

January 28, 2024

One Christmas present I very much appreciated was Jonathan Raban's last book, Father and Son.

I've admired Raban's writing for many years, ever since reading Coasting, his wonderful account of sailing around Great Britain in 1982, also a meditation on the damage that Margaret Thatcher was doing to his native country. When I read it I was in a sailboat myself, cruising through...

December 19, 2023

December 13, 2023

In the November issue of the Literary Review of Canada, under the guise of revisiting Jack Granatstein's 1998 polemic, Who Killed Canadian History, Patrice Dutil writes a lament about the state of Canadian history today.

I didn't like Granatstein's book when it appeared 25 years ago and I don't much like Dutil's recycling of some of the same arguments. But instead of going on about it myself I...

November 27, 2023

Last week I was down to the regular meeting of the Vancouver Historical Society. The speaker was Jason Colby, professor of environmental history at the University of Victoria.

Jason was talking about his book Orca: How We Came to Know and...

November 26, 2023

Another year has rolled around and once again The British Columbia Review is in the middle of its fundraising drive.

You know the Review, BC's best on-line book review site (and I don't say that just because I am a member of the editorial board). If you care about books and the conversation about books then why not consider helping out?

The Review's estimable man-in-charge, Richard Mackie,...

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