Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


June 8, 2020

As I have already mentioned, my next book, Becoming Vancouver: a New History, has been delayed by the COVID situation and will not be published until next year. In the meantime, I thought I would introduce the project by telling some stories from the book.

Given the wave of Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe, I'll begin with the story of "the Great English Bay...

May 29, 2020

Yesterday's mail brought the new issue of Canada's History magazine containing an article by yours truly on the story of prohibition in Canada.

That's right. While American prohibition enjoys a high profile -- Al Capone, Roaring Twenties, bathtub gin, etc. -- many Canadians do not even know we had our own liquor ban in this country....

May 22, 2020

People like to draw analogies -- historians certainly do -- and naturally the favourite comparison of late has been to the 1918 flu epidemic. But I've been thinking more about the Red Scare.

Following World War One and the flu outbreak, Canada was gripped by a fear of red revolution. It seems outlandish in retrospect, but at the time the...

May 2, 2020

The leftie progressive People's Co-op Bookstore is Vancouver's -- and Canada's -- oldest independent bookshop. It is celebrating 75 years in business by launching a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for its operations.

Like so many other small businesses the store, which has played a central role in the city's literary history, has been challenged by the pandemic shutdown.

If you...

April 26, 2020

The Fred Varley cabin in North Vancouver is up for sale and this has sparked renewed interest in the famous artist's 10-year sojourn on the West Coast. Varley (that's him above) was a founding member of the Group of Seven, who are associated with eastern Canada, but he spent a very productive decade in the...