Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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Remembering the Athenia

November 9, 2019

On today's CBC website there is an item about a reunion of survivors of the Athenia, a passenger ship torpedoed by the Germans right at the beginning of World War Two.

Loyal readers may recall that my mother-in-law, Dorothy Dean Brealey, was a passenger on the doomed vessel. She was returning to Canada with her mother after visiting relatives in England.

In 2006 I wrote an article for Canada's History about Dorothy's brush with death. To commemorate Remembrance Day, you can find it here.

November 3, 2019

Is the City of Vancouver Book Award the most ineptly publicized book prize in the country? It feels like it.

The annual award was handed out last month in a ceremony at the Vancouver Public Library. My pal Rob Watt had a book in the running -- his gorgeous volume on the indigenous artist Susan Point -- and I was interested in knowing if he had won.

But just try to find out.

Neither of the local daily papers reported the event, at least not so far as I could discover on...

October 9, 2019

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer believes that the purpose of history is to "celebrate" the past. To this end he has announced that if elected his government will remove admission fees from Canada's national museums.

I'm all in favour of free museums, but Mr. Scheer is dead wrong. His views would lead to the destruction, not the strengthening, of our...

August 28, 2019

The Blue Cabin project launched last weekend in False Creek so I went along to have a look.

I've written before about the project but now it is up and running, welcoming its first artist-in-residence this autumn. In the photo above, the rebuilt squatter's cabin is on the right, the modern living quarters on the left.

The...

August 24, 2019

Last weekend I joined a walking tour of historic Mount Pleasant led by Christine Hagemoen of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group.

Basically the tour followed part of the route of historic Brewery Creek as it used to wind its way from the old Tea Swamp at 16th and Main down to False Creek. The creek is gone now, or at least buried, but there is lots to see in the area, which was the...

August 11, 2019

Someone asked as we motored through the Fraser Canyon: "Where did the Cariboo Road start?"

At Yale, sez I, authoritatively. The steamships could only come up the river from the coast as far as Yale before the canyon got too nasty. From there on, everyone and everything had to continue by land. So they built the wagon road all the way to Barkerville.

Sounded logical, but in that case...

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