Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


July 5, 2013


Just in time for Canada History Week the folks at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography had done a makeover to their website. The result makes for a vastly improved visitor experience. As a taste test, try this new bio of historian Donald Creighton.

For the Fourth of July, Slate published a critical...

July 2, 2013


Admonished by my government to get out and "celebrate our history and the achievements that define who we are" (in the words of our heritage minister), I spent part of Canada Day, and the first day of Canada History Week, marching in a parade.

The North Vancouver Museum & Archives, of which I am a commissioner, is hoping to move to a new location in a...

June 24, 2013

Some thirty years ago while I was researching the history of whaling for my book on the subject (The Great Chase, Penguin Canada, 1990) I had the pleasure of chatting with Selma Barkham about her work in the Basque archives.

Last Saturday I thought of our conversation as UNESCO declared that Red Bay, Labrador, located on the north shore of the Strait of Belle Isle, would be Canada's newest World Heritage Site. Almost 500 years ago, the tiny settlement was one of the whaling...

June 18, 2013

Recently I’ve been researching the history of prohibition during the 1920s, in Canada and in the borderlands with the US as well. As so often happens, echoes of one’s own research can be heard in the political issues of the present day, specifically in the recent revelations of massive electronic eavesdropping by the American government on its own citizens.

Watchers of Ken Burns’s television series “Prohibition” that showed last year on PBS will recall the story of Roy Olmstead, the...

June 16, 2013

Or in this case, viewing. When I was a kid spending my summers on Bowen Island we used to while away rainy afternoons at the community hall watching movies. I've never forgotten being engrossed in the 1955 war adventure, "The Dam Busters," starring Richard Todd, about British planes dropping "the bouncing bomb". The blog at History Today has a short video describing the actual operation...