Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


July 3, 2014

Yesterday my peregrinations took me to the People's Co-op Bookstore on Vancouver's Commercial Drive where I was delighted to find Rolf Maurer tending the cash. Rolf, whose job-job is the publisher of New Star Books, is a determined volunteer at the store, as well as the recent chronicler of its history. (The story, which is a fascinating one for anyone interested in the recent history of the book trade, may be found at New Star's blog, ...

June 28, 2014

Today marks one hundred years to the day that the young Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed Archduke Franz-Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, setting the world on the road to war. Philip Larkin, in his poem MCMXIV, captures the watershed moment as posterity has come to see it.

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of...

June 21, 2014


Thursday last the Vancouver Heritage Foundation held a drinks party in the lobby of the Sun Tower and I was invited along to say a few words about one of my favourite subjects, Louis Taylor. The highlight of the evening for me was a chance to venture into the upper storeys of the Tower where some of the original fittings and fixtures are still in place.


June 17, 2014

For several years a few of us have gathered each Christmas season to dine at the Kathmandu Cafe on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. A meal of goat curry and momos always seems like a nice distraction from more conventional holiday festivities. During this time we have come to know Abi Sharma, the Kathmandu's genial proprietor.

Last night a group of regular patrons convened beneath the stunning photographs of the Himalayas that decorate the walls of the cafe to bid farewell to Abi, who...

June 9, 2014

Great to see historian Jean Barman being honoured with this year's George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award (which bills itself as BC's most prestigious literary prize).

Jean has written too many books to mention here but my favourite is probably Stanley Park's Secrets (Harbour Publishing 2005). By reminding us of the different communities who used to make their homes in Stanley Park, she completely changes the way we...