Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

July 2014

July 30, 2014


A memento of a recent visit to the beaches of Vancouver Island, this portrait of yours truly on abalone shell was drawn by the grandkids. A remarkable likeness.

July 28, 2014

Next Monday, August 4, will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One. On that day in 1914 Britain's ultimatum to Germany to get its troops out of Belgium expired and the British Empire, including Canada, went to war.

The clergyman Charles Gordon (who was better known under his pen name as the popular novelist Ralph Connor) left an evocative account of the last days of peace in his memoir Postscript to Adventure. At the end of July Gordon was camping with...

July 12, 2014

My new book, Closing Time, is safely in the hands of the printer and is due to appear from Douglas & McIntyre this fall. Here is the cover.


It is an illustrated history of prohibition in Canada, from the temperance movements of the nineteenth century to the...

July 5, 2014

The latest issue of Geist magazine (#93) is out. Along with my regular books column, it contains my feature article on Richard Maurice Bucke, the 19th century alienist and religious mystic.

I first got interested in Bucke when I was in graduate school in the 1970s. His story is fairly well known to specialists -- there is an unfortunately lifeless 1986 biography by Sam Shortt, Victorian Lunacy -- but not I suspect to the general...

July 3, 2014

Yesterday my peregrinations took me to the People's Co-op Bookstore on Vancouver's Commercial Drive where I was delighted to find Rolf Maurer tending the cash. Rolf, whose job-job is the publisher of New Star Books, is a determined volunteer at the store, as well as the recent chronicler of its history. (The story, which is a fascinating one for anyone interested in the recent history of the book trade, may be found at New Star's blog, ...