Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Knight Wins the Woodcock Prize

May 22, 2017

Congratulations to Rolf Knight who has been named this year's winner of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for a BC writer with a long and meritorious career.

I keep two of Knight's books close to hand. His Indians at Work is a compendious account of the Aboriginal labour force in BC, pathbreaking when it first appeared from New Star Books in 1978 and reissued, with an index, thank god, in 1996. Along the No. 20 Line (New Star, 1980, 2011) is part memoir, part history, part oral history, an account of the Vancouver waterfront organized around the route of one of the city's early east-end streetcars.

Most recently Knight published his life story, Voyage Through the Past Century, again from New Star, which reveals him to be an academic maverick, an outsider by temperament, and a highly original thinker. All admirable qualities for a writer.

May 18, 2017

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I’ve recently been poking around the history of squatting in Vancouver. Issues of homelessness and transiency go right back to the origins of the city. Gassy Jack himself was a squatter and of course you could argue that we are all squatters, on native land.

During the Dirty Thirties the men in the photograph were among the thousands of single unemployed who arrived in the...

May 15, 2017

I've been thinking about adding to the din about cultural appropriation but since I've written an entire book that is mostly about the subject I thought I'd leave it at that.

Except to recommend that if you want to educate yourself about the issue, watch Jesse Wente's interview on CBC television, or listen to...

May 6, 2017

With next week's provincial election looming, and the Green Party looking to play a bit of the spoiler, I've been asked several times in the last few days whether BC has ever had a minority government. (Perhaps it is because I edited a giant encyclopedia about the province that people think I know stuff like that.)

To my shame, I didn't actually know, but I hazarded a guess. Yes, once in 1952, when the Social Credit Party was just getting started. In that year's vote, the Social...

May 4, 2017

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My history of the district of North Vancouver, Where Mountains Meet the Sea, has been shortlisted by the BC Historical Federation for one of its book prizes

I'll be in Chilliwack later in the month when the envelope is opened at the BCHF annual meeting...

April 30, 2017

 

One evening this past week I was at an historical society meeting and out of the blue someone asked, "should they remove Begbie?" I knew what she meant and answered, abruptly, No. Sometimes we find out what we think without thinking.

For those of you who missed it, Begbie is Matthew Bailey Begbie, original Chief Justice of British Columbia, and the reference to removal is a decision taken by the Law Society of BC a few days ago to remove the statue of Begbie that has been...

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