Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

May 2015

May 26, 2015

Last evening found me at the Book Warehouse on Main Street for a book launch by my pals at Harbour Publishing.

It was Harbour's 40th anniversary last year and as part of the celebrations they've issued a new edition of their famous "magazine" Raincoast Chronicles. Actually it was the Chronicles that launched Harbour, as owner Howie White explained last night. It was 1972 and the federal government was handing out LIP grants -- LIP stood for Local Initiative Projects...

May 23, 2015

If you live in Vancouver, your morning commute on the Skytrain (the city's light rail transit system if you don't) last Friday may have been interrupted by...the birds. Or to be more precise, a bird's nest. Apparently one was set alight by a spark and started a fire that burned out a major electrical cable, shutting down the trains for several hours.

Being an historian, my mind naturally wanders to precedents and believe it or not, there is one: the infamous "woodpecker election" of...

May 7, 2015

Today is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the British passenger liner Lusitania, torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. The death toll was 1,198 passengers and crew, including almost one hundred children.

The sinking violated the unwritten rules of war that said that civilian ships were immune from attack. It quickly came to epitomize the perfidy of the German enemy and was exploited by propagandists in Allied countries to stir up fervid support for the war...

May 4, 2015

Spring has arrived and with it the latest issue of Geist magazine (No.96).

My regular column takes a look at John Ralston Saul's book on Aboriginal rights, The Comeback. Saul thinks that Aboriginal people in Canada have made enormous strides in reversing years of population...