Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


Heritage on the Move

April 2, 2020

For several years I have been a member of the local heritage advistory committee, which as the name suggests advises local government on heritage issues.

As a committee, we spend a lot of time regretting the disappearance of yet one more valuable heritage structure. So it is nice to have a small success story to report.

The home pictured above is known as the Copper Cottage. Built in North Vancouver in 1908, it is also known as the James Residence after its original owners, Grace and William James. It came up for sale last year. Well, not for sale exactly. It was available for nothing from the developer who planned to demolish it if no one stepped up to take it off his hands. At the last moment new owners were found and last month the little piece of North Van history was moved three blocks away to its new location.

The move was captured on film. If you are looking for a break from all the bad news and cat videos, you can watch it here.

March 31, 2020

As many readers know, I've been working on a new book for the past couple of years, a history of Vancouver. 

Becoming Vancouver: A New History was in the middle of the editing/design process, scheduled for fall publication, when the epidemic hit. My publisher (Harbour Publishing) and I agree that it makes little sense to bring a new book into such an uncertain world: stores closed, festivals cancelled; readings dangerous. Especially a book which is not time-sensitive. 

March 17, 2020

I suppose one thing we can be thankful for in the present health crisis is that we are not fighting a world war at the same time.

You'll have seen lots of references to the 1918-19 flu epidemic (it is often called the Spanish flu but in fact it originated in China) which swept the world and killed in the neighbourhood of 50 million people. At least that is the number we seem to have...

February 29, 2020

Tom Hawthorne has an interesting article at Montecristo Magazine about an episode in wartime Vancouver when some members of the Junior Board of Trade pretended for a day that the city was occupied by Nazi invaders. A mob of "soldiers" occupy the radio station. The mayor is marched...

February 18, 2020

The other day I was leafing through a copy of Arduous Destiny by P.B. Waite in search of a factoid when the pages fell apart in my hands. No surprise, I guess. My edition of Waite's book dates to 1978 and has followed me from Ottawa, where it was purchased, to Montreal and across the country to North Vancouver. Forty-two years later it doesn't owe me anything.

Arduous Destiny...

February 14, 2020

Up at Squamish this morning for the grand reopening of the Sea to Sky Gondola, back in action after being vandalized six months ago.

Guess what? The view hasn't changed at all.

Congratulations to everyone involved.