Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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A Legacy of Prejudice

March 30, 2021

Vancouver's Chinatown in 1906. (Courtesy Vancouver Public Library 5240)

The epidemic, and more recently the horrible murders in Atlanta, have focussed attention on the corrosive impact of anti-Asian prejudice and discrimination. Most Vancouverites are aware of the city's long history of discrimination against its Japanese, Chinese and South Asian residents. Unable to vote, denied jobs, kept out of most neighbourhoods, they were victimized by an extensive system of legalized racism for many years.

The vote came in 1947 and other changes followed. This may seem like a long time ago. Vancouver is definitely a different city. But all of the changes came within my lifetime, so not so long ago. And stories of how people of Asian background have been experiencing racist attacks during the pandemic show the rest of us that this issue is a long way from being resolved.

Vancouverites may not be aware that a few years ago the city commissioned a history of this sorry subject, at least as regards the Chinese-Canadian population. It resulted in a detailed report that was accepted by council in 2017 and formed the background to an official apology by the city for its discriminatory behaviour against local Chinese Canadians.

There is no better time to read the report, which is available online here.

February 5, 2021

While waiting for my next book, Becoming Vancouver: A New History, to be published this fall -- delayed by the COVID situation -- I thought I'd introduce the project by telling some "tales of the city."

The death of James Cross last month took me back to October 1970. Not to Quebec, where the main events took place, but to Vancouver, where tragedy turned to...

December 21, 2020

December 9, 2020

Why not give the gift of history for Christmas?

November 29, 2020

While waiting for my next book, Becoming Vancouver: A New History, to be published -- delayed by the COVID situation -- I thought I'd introduce the project by telling some "tales of the city."

You'll recall the mega explosion that destroyed much of downtown Beirut back in August, killing more than 200 people and leaving 300,000 homeless. The cause was the careless...

November 23, 2020

Back in the day I worked for a while as an oral historian. For three summers I drove the length of the Trent-Severn Waterway in south-central Ontario, interviewing people who had lived and/or worked along the waterway. It was so long ago that I was actually using an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. One summer I got cheap digs in an old house with a group of university students. The house had...

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