Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


June 4, 2014

Since I'm not as plugged into Toronto media as I might be I was unaware of a series of articles the Toronto Star has been running since mid-April.

Reporter Katie Daubs and photographer Richard Lautens have been walking across western Europe tracing the front lines to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One.

The few articles I read before I came up against the paywall were a wonderful...

May 30, 2014


Last February I wrote here about James Daschuk's compelling book Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (U of Regina Press).

I note that the Canadian Historical Association has just awarded the book this year's Sir John A...

May 21, 2014

Long ago (late 1970s) in a galaxy far, far away (Ontario) I worked for three years as a contract historian for Parks Canada. My assignment was to prepare an oral history of the Trent-Severn Waterway which winds across southern Ontario from Trenton on Lake Ontario to Port Severn on Lake Huron. During the summer I would record interviews with people who worked, or had worked, along the waterway; in the winter I wrote up my research.

In those days Parks Canada would publish some of its...

May 10, 2014


Last week a friend sent me a link to the 1990 Canadian-made movie Beautiful Dreamers so that I could watch it online.

The film tells the story of the friendship between Richard Maurice Bucke, the London, Ontario, "mad doctor," and the American poet Walt Whitman...

May 2, 2014


The Department of History at York University in Toronto have posted a very useful set of videos to mark the centenary of the onset of World War One.

Utilizing still images and interviews with members of the university faculty, the seven short videos tackle many different aspects of the war: its origins, the role of women, Canada's homefront, weaponry, imperialism, French Canadians and the war, to mention just a few.

If you...