Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

October 2013

October 31, 2013

Abolish the Canadian Senate? Sure, why not? But while we're at it, let's abolish the Olympics as well.

Yesterday the CBC reminded us that it is 100 days until the Sochi Games and in the weeks ahead the public broadcaster will air constant updates and features on "our" athletes. But personally I am disappointed that the Mother Corp is even involved.

The Olympics have become a wasteful scandal. By some estimates the Sochi Games will cost upwards of $50 billion. (That compares to...

October 29, 2013


Surely no 20th-century city has such a fraught, complicated and multi-layered history as Berlin. Which makes it a fascinating place to visit, as I did for the first time earlier this month.

As I strolled through the streets of the German capital, I was struck by many things:...

October 27, 2013

The newest issue (#90) of Geist magazine is out and includes my column about a pair of books that bring into question Prime Minister Harper's infamous comment that Canada "has no history of colonialism."

Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Toronto journalist Mary Janigan, revisits the history of resource ownership in the western provinces, while Greg Malone's Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders argues that the Rock's entry into Confederation in 1949...

October 25, 2013


This is the only purchase I made during my recent trip to Europe. I bought it in Old Town Prague at the official Spartak outlet store which happens to be located on Husova Street directly beneath the hanging sculpture of Sigmund Freud.

The sculpture depicts Freud suspended by one hand from a bar high above the street, perhaps contemplating whether or not to let go. I particularly...

October 24, 2013

One of the pleasures of being a Canadian in Europe in October was to walk by the newsstands and see a smiling Alice Munro on the front pages of all the foreign-language papers. You wanted to tell the person next to you, "she won the Nobel Prize and she's one of us."

Speaking of being "one of us," the book publisher Howard White has blogged over at the Encyclopedia of BC site that while she is usually called an...

October 23, 2013

It was our first day in the south of France and we had stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe in the lovely little town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. It was market day. The vendors in the square, who had been selling cheese, olives, spices, salami, fresh produce and helpings of paella topped with the largest shrimp I had ever seen, were beginning to pack up.

At the neighbouring table a group of about a dozen Brits were enjoying a boisterous meal, lubricated by a steady supply of beer and...