Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


September 3, 2014

Walter Draycott was a pioneer settler in the Lynn Valley neighbourhood of North Vancouver. When World War One began he drilled with the local home guard and in November 1914 travelled east to Montreal and on to England where he joined his new regiment, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. By Christmas he was at the front and he spent the next four years serving overseas.

Draycott kept a daily journal his entire life, including the war years. The journals are in the...

August 20, 2014

It is a readily-acknowledged side effect of getting old(er) that the memory begins to lose its grip so I suppose I should not have been surprised when a friend arrived for dinner the other night with the news that he had just seen me on television and I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out he'd seen a documentary on Vancouver during the Depression and there I was, one of those talking heads who fill in the spaces between the images.

As he described the program I began to...

August 19, 2014


When I worked as a clerk in a book shop back in the day, the best part of the job was opening the boxes of new books when they arrived at the store. The smell, the feel, the pleasure of piling them onto the shelves; it was the most satisfaction I've ever had from a "real" job.

This morning I got to experience a bit of the same frisson when I opened the envelope from...

August 10, 2014

There has been some comment about the relatively modest way that our federal government commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One last week, especially given the prime minister's penchant for the militarization of our history.

Let me recommend a commentary by my friend Christopher Moore at his website. Chris speculates that the feds are planning to...

July 30, 2014


A memento of a recent visit to the beaches of Vancouver Island, this portrait of yours truly on abalone shell was drawn by the grandkids. A remarkable likeness.