Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

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Berton Award Winner

November 15, 2022

Canada's History Society has announced the winner of its Governor General's History Award for Popular Media, better known as the Pierre Berton Award.

This year the award goes to Thomas King, the prolific novelist, historian, humourist, broadcaster and I could go on. In this context he is probably best known as the author of The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Or perhaps you prefer his series of comic mysteries featuring Thumps Dreadfulwater. I personally tried never to miss his CBC radio serial "The Dead Dog Cafe".

For these and many other reasons he is a perfect choice for the Berton award.

And for those who like to drone on about how badly Canadian history is taught in the classroom these days, check out the winners of the teaching awards. Always an inspiration.

October 31, 2022

 I braved the monsoon rains last week to attend the regular meeting of the Vancouver Historical Society where Gregory Betts was speaking about the Grateful Dead and their visits to the city back in the 1960s and '70s. You can watch the lecture yourself here on YouTube.

What I remember about the music of those years was not the Dead -- I was out of town for their concerts -- but the Jefferson Airplane. For me, the...

October 14, 2022

The 1907 anti-Asian riots are remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in Vancouver's history. A crowd of several thousand people gathered at city hall to support a rally against Asian immigration. Following the meeting a mob descended on Chinatown, trashing businesses and threatening residents, before moving on to Powell Street to attack the Japanese community. (The...

October 2, 2022

In case you missed it -- and it was very easy to miss, given the scarcity of book news these days -- the BC Book Prizes were awarded last week. Here are the winners.

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize -- Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking/Penguin Random House)

Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize -- Jordan Abel, NISHGA (M&S/Penguin Random House)

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize -- Henry Doyle, No Shelter (Anvil Press)

Roderick Haig-...

September 22, 2022

Now that the death of Queen Elizabeth is receding into the past, perhaps there will be an opportunity for some clear-eyed thinking about the future of the monarchy in Canada. Given the orgy of sentimentality that accompanied the funeral -- can you tell that I am not a monarchist? -- we could certainly use some sensible discussion of the options.

A good place to start is this essay by Christopher Moore over...

August 31, 2022

The noted neuroscientist Dr. Patrick McGeer died this week, age 95. After attending Princeton University and working in the US in the 1950s he spent the rest of his illustrious career here in his native British Columbia.

He came from one of the most notorious political families in Vancouver. His uncle Gerry McGeer, an MLA, MP, Senator and two-term mayor -- well, actually a term and a bit; he...

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