Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


March 24, 2014


Many years ago I got it into my head to write a history of 1919. So much happened that year after the Great War ended: revolution in Germany, civil wars in Ireland and Russia, a red scare in the US, general strikes, the peace process, slaughter in India, assassination and insurrection everywhere. With so much to tell, the story should have written itself. But, alas, it didn’t. In...

March 17, 2014


This week the folks at the ActiveHistory website are conducting a postmortem on the Historical Thinking Project.

Masterminded by Peter Seixas at UBC, the HTP was an attempt to develop a new approach to teaching history. Late last year the federal government cut off its funding and the project has had to close.

ActiveHistory is running a ...

March 15, 2014


It's Women's History Month (at least in the US and the UK, Canadians celebrate in October), so let's do some women's history.

I've posted one of my articles (here) that was first published in the June/July issue 1989 of The Beaver magazine, now known as Canada's History. I have done a bit more research on the story since then; the posted article has been updated from its...

March 5, 2014


When I lived in Montreal in the mid-eighties I was fortunate enough to have The Double Hook as my neighbourhood bookstore.

Occupying the main floor of a small house on Greene Avenue in Westmount, the shop was the domain of Judy Mappin, a silver-haired grande dame of the bookselling trade. She had started the business in 1974 with two partners when the idea of a store devoted solely to books written by Canadians was, if not revolutionary, at least daring.


March 4, 2014


We are all familiar with the "Then & Now" approach to comparing contemporary and historic landscapes and urban settings. First we see a photograph of a building (or street or whatever) as it looks today. Then we compare it to another photo of the same site 50, 75, 100 years ago. It is a compelling way to emphasize change (or permanence, I suppose, though it is seldom used that way).

Two examples are the phone apps for Canadian cities developed by Jim Marsh and his team at...