Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


November 21, 2016

Lots of years ago I wrote my MA thesis on the history of institutions for the mentally ill in Maritime Canada. At the time the story of the asylum had produced several studies in countries like the UK and US but not very much work had been done here in Canada. I hoped that one day I would return to the subject myself but not every enthusiasm becomes a book and this one didn't.

So I am intrigued by a new online...

November 16, 2016

In 1919, to celebrate its upcoming 250th anniversary, the Hudson's Bay Company sent a filmmaker named Harold Wyckoff into the Canadian northwest to document the fur trade at some of its remote posts. The result was a silent film, "The Romance of the Far Fur Country," released the following year, then forgotten.

A few years ago Winnipeg documentarians Kevin and Chris Nikkel discovered the film in a British archive and made their own movie, "On the Trail of the Far Fur Country," in...

October 18, 2016

In the summer of 1964 a whaling expedition mounted by the Vancouver Aquarium accidently captured a live killer whale near Saturna Island. Subsequently named Moby Doll, the young orca survived for almost three months at two different sites on the Vancouver waterfront.

Now journalist Mark Leiren-Young has written a book about the episode and its impact on public perceptions of the whales. My review of The Killer Whale Who Changed the World appears at the newly-launched...

October 17, 2016


I am a Blue Jays fan and the author of a book about aboriginal stereotypes so perhaps that qualifies me to weigh in on the controversy about the Cleveland baseball team (as broadcasters have taken to calling it, to avoid saying the I word) and its logo.

Frankly I don't understand why this...

September 24, 2016

Next weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) is Culture Days, a national celebration of arts and culture. 

As part of the festivities I will be presenting an illustrated talk about the history of North Vancouver, the subject of my latest book. It happens at the Community History Centre in Lynn Valley at 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct.1) afternoon.

Why not take in Karen Dearlove's walking tour of Old Shaketown first? That departs the History Centre at...