Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Talking Prohibition

March 22, 2017

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Next Tuesday, March 28, I am giving a talk about prohibition, sponsored by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. Details are here.

You'll note that the event takes place at Hycroft, a fabulous mansion completed in 1911 for Alexander Duncan McRae, a prominent soldier/industrialist/politician. It is located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood, home to Vancouver's first families. The New Year's Eve masquerade ball held by the McRaes was supposedly the most important occasion on the city's social calendar. 

Since 1962 the house has been owned by the University Women's Club. I have not been there since I attended the posh wedding of friends back in the '60s so it should be fun.

March 15, 2017

I recently prepared a short entry for the Canadian Encyclopedia about the Last Spike and I realized once again how important a single nine-day stretch in November 1885 was in the history of the country.

As you know, the Last Spike marked the conclusion of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The company held a modest ceremony at Eagle Pass not far from Revelstoke in the British...

March 10, 2017

The Vancouver Park Board has voted to stop displaying live cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, a real turning point in the history of the city.

Cetaceans have been part of the Aquarium...

March 7, 2017

The shortlist for the BC Book Prizes is out (see it here) and it highlights some pretty interesting history that was published in the province last year.

The list includes Gently to Nagasaki, Joy Kogawa's meditation on historical atrocity; Mark Leiren-Young's account of Moby Doll, The Killer Whale Who Changed the World; a history of the Gitxsan people, Mapping My Way Home, by longtime tribal leader Neil...

March 3, 2017

I have a couple of websites to recommend.

Lana Okerlund is a Vancouver book editor, writer and history buff who has begun blogging on the history of bookselling in BC at "A Most Agreeable Place." Apparently she set out to answer the question "What was the first bookseller in Vancouver?" and the result became this blog. (The answer to the question, by the way, is Seth Thorne Tilley who provided the pen, ink and paper for the city's first...

February 28, 2017

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The day after the Oscars the district of North Vancouver held its own awards night. The gowns were less formal but at least the awards went to the correct recipients, of which I was one.

The Community Heritage Awards are presented annually to recognize efforts to promote heritage conservation in the community. Last night most of the awards went to homeowners who had...

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