Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


Breakwater Makes Fifty

March 9, 2023

I see by this article in Quill & Quire that the Newfoundland publisher Breakwater Books is enjoying its 50th year in the business.

Even though I live at the other end of the country and have only been to Newfoundland once, I am one of the horses in Breakwater's stable. In 1984 the press published Arctic Chase, my short history of whaling in Canada's Arctic. At that time I had published one book with Mel Hurtig in Edmonton but Mel was not as enthusiastic about whaling as I was and took a pass on Arctic Chase. One of his editors, Sarah Reid, believed in the manuscript and offered to shop it around for me. The only time I've ever had an agent. And she found a home for it on The Rock.

In those days Breakwater was managed by one of its co-founders, Clyde Rose. I only met Clyde once, at a drunken dinner of small press publishers in Montreal when he almost got us all kicked out of the restaurant because he wouldn't stop bellowing sea chanties at the top of his lungs.

The company is now led by Rebecca Rose, Clyde's daughter. Congratulations on the 50th.

February 28, 2023

My pal Steve and I meet regularly for coffee at the Commercial Street Cafe in the beautifully restored Gow Block. Back in the day this neighbourhood used to be known as Cedar Cottage and Commercial was its high street. That's it above, pre-World War One. (Photo courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives LGN504) The interurban tram...

February 15, 2023

Over the years I have been fortunate to be able to visit Savary Island many times. "Sunny, sandy Savary" (see above) is a small island lying at the top of the Salish Sea north of Powell River. To get there you take one ferry, drive for 90 minutes, take another ferry, drive for an hour, then conclude your journey with a 10-minute water-taxi ride. In other words, it is not an easy place to get to....

February 6, 2023

I have mentioned before in this space that I am a member of the editorial board of the online book review site, the British Columbia Review, formerly the Ormsby Review. The site is devoted to reviewing books about British Columbia and/or by British Columbians.

So let me announce that the Review has added a new feature, its own YouTube channel. We have kicked things off with a short interview...

January 20, 2023

The year began with a short visit to Powell River. Many nice hikes in that area, one of which took us to the top of Mt. Valentine with a wonderful view of the Salish Sea. That is the mill below us in the photograph above. Once the lifeblood of the town it is closed now and the property on the market. As far as one can tell the transition from company town has gone well; the community seems to be...

December 13, 2022