Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


September 16, 2013

Last week the post brought two new "political" books from the Vancouver publisher, New Star Books.

One is a revised edition of Mark Leier's "life and times" of the fascinating labour activist and spy, Robert Gosden. First published in 1999, this new edition of Rebel Life contains additional information about Gosden, an enigmatic figure in the history of the labour movement. Mark teaches history at Simon Fraser U and his chapter "On the Trail of a Labour Spy" offers a...

September 12, 2013

I missed this when it was announced.

The Vancouver-based online "newspaper" The Tyee and the history department at Simon Fraser U. have sponsored a new writing prize in honour of the late SFU historian Michael Fellman.

The prize is for an essay "that demonstrates bold thought, clear analysis, and rests on well researched historical understanding."

Details are here.

September 6, 2013

A project that has kept me busy this summer is an illustrated history of prohibition in Canada. Titled Closing Time, it will be published next year.

American prohibition has been enjoying a lot of attention lately. Last year PBS aired a Ken Burns documentary on the subject, based on Daniel Okrent's best-selling book Last Call, and the TV drama "Boardwalk Empire" has had huge success. But most Canadians don't realize that we had our own experience with prohibition....

September 1, 2013

Two blogs to recommend, both by old pals.

If you have any interest in out-of-the-way corners of Canadian literature, pay a visit to Brian Busby's entertaining blog, The Dusty Bookcase, if for no other reason than Brian holds a watching brief on the (non) appearance of Prime Minister Harper's much ballyhooed hockey book.


August 26, 2013

On the west side of Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, near the corner of Smythe next door to the McDonald’s, there is a storefront which for many years has been occupied by a camera shop. In the 1960s, however, it was home to The Book Barrel, the largest link in a small chain of book stores owned by Ted Fraser. (There was also The Book Bin at the north end of the Granville Bridge and a third store on Robson Street.) Mostly forgotten now, Fraser at the time was the only competition...