Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


April 3, 2014


Last week I attended a lecture at the Vancouver Public Library by Margaret MacMillan about her latest book on World War One, The War That Ended Peace. Professor MacMillan gives a very polished performance. She carried a sheaf of papers but as far as I could tell hardly had to consult them as she ran us through a brisk outline of her book, which is about the causes of the war...

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.