Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative
July 30, 2017

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The new issue of Geist magazine (#105) has hit the newsstands and careful readers will note that there is no books column by yours truly.

After I don't know how many years I decided to pass the torch to younger hands. And I was right to do so. The column by Lisa Bird-Wilson, in which she makes a plea for "reading Indigenously," is terrific. As is Mary...

July 24, 2017

A few years ago I was on vacation in Puglia on Italy’s Adriatic coast. At the beach one day I met a veteran Italian television journalist taking the sun. Immediately upon learning that I was Canadian he wanted to discuss Charles DeGaulle’s notorious visit to Quebec in 1967. It seemed to be the only thing he knew about the country. I would imagine that most Canadians, outside Quebec at least, have little memory of the General and his audacious “Vive Le Quebec Libre.” Yet here was this...

July 14, 2017

I was very sorry to learn about the death earlier this week of Vancouver writer Jim Wong-Chu. I knew that Jim had suffered a stroke a few months ago but not that he was so seriously ill.

Jim published his first book of poetry, Chinatown Ghosts, in 1986. He was a tireless advocate for the Asian-Canadian writing community, helping to found the Asian-...

July 1, 2017

A Vancouverite visiting Montreal, as I did recently, cannot help but feel that he is witnessing the giant bullet that Vancouver dodged back in the 1960s.

Driving in from the West Island, one discovers that Autoroute 20 is under reconstruction (and has been for some time apparently). The vehicle moves slowly (because it is always gridlock) through an appalling scene of destruction. Giant diggers and dump trucks lumber to and fro, carrying dirt and rock from one place to another across...

June 5, 2017

This year is a busy one for centenaries, and sesquicentenaries: Vimy, the Russian revolution, Canada 150, to name but three.

Here in BC we are commemorating a couple of hundredth anniversaries: women's suffrage and prohibition. Both came into effect in 1917. On the face of it they are an unlikely pairing. What were voters thinking? The vote for women was one of the most significant progressive reforms of the 20th century, while prohibition was probably the worst attempt at social...

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