Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

December 2014

December 24, 2014

In the commemorations of the centennial of the Great War we have now reached the Christmas when everyone expected it to be over by. 

Much is being made of the 1914 Christmas Truce and the famous soccer game. The British grocery chain Sainsbury's has even produced this video which has been viewed by sixteen million people as of this morning. That's a lot of tea and marmite. (For a less sentimental account of the Truce,...

December 14, 2014

A few days ago the news carried a story about a small First Nation from the Gulf Islands of British Columbia appearing out of the past to claim large chunks of coastal territory, including Stanley Park in Vancouver. Few people will have heard of the Hwlitsum people, including the government apparently since the band is not officially recognized as even existing. In fact, their story includes one of the most brutal examples of "gunboat diplomacy" to occur on the coast.

Most British...

December 3, 2014

I am always discouraged this time of year by the lack of Canadian history in the various "best books of the year" features that I read in the media.

To take just one example, the Globe and Mail included just two volumes of history in its 100 "best books" of 2014. And one of them was Conrad Black's mammoth history of Canada which the Globe's own reviewer earlier had panned for its "tight focus on elite decision makers ... to the exclusion of everything else." Obnoxious and...