Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


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...

August 20, 2013

When it comes to canoeing, Canadians can be divided into two groups of people, Johnsonians and Leacockians.

As children, Johnsonians invariably went to summer camp in the woods where they chanted Pauline Johnson's anthem, "The Song My Paddle Sings," around the campfire each night. ("Be strong, O paddle! be brave, canoe!") Later in life they spend their holidays hurtling down one pest-infested waterway after another.

As you may infer, I am a Leacockian. We feel as Stephen...

August 16, 2013

On a recent visit to Shawnigan Lake on southern Vancouver Island I seized the opportunity to visit the Kinsol Trestle, one of British Columbia's most impressive feats of engineering.


Located just north of Shawnigan, it towers 44.2 metres (145 feet) above the Koksilah River. It is the tallest surviving timber trestle in Canada and the oldest trestle of its kind in the world. Even...

August 5, 2013


Today is a national holiday across Canada. Depending on where you live it may be Family Day or Simcoe Day or Natal Day or whatever. What matters is, most of us get a day off work.

In BC the holiday is called, predictably, British Columbia Day and often is used as the occasion for gushing displays of provincial pride. (As humorist Eric Nicol once remarked, BC residents like...