Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Blog

The future of the Canadian Monarch

September 22, 2022

Now that the death of Queen Elizabeth is receding into the past, perhaps there will be an opportunity for some clear-eyed thinking about the future of the monarchy in Canada. Given the orgy of sentimentality that accompanied the funeral -- can you tell that I am not a monarchist? -- we could certainly use some sensible discussion of the options.

A good place to start is this essay by Christopher Moore over at the Canada's History website.

It seems to me that Canadians have been running away from the subject for too long. Why doesn't the government appoint some sort of expert panel (NOT a royal commission, please) to assess the pros and cons of a homegrown head of state and the pathway for achieving it? Seems like a useful first step to me.

August 31, 2022

The noted neuroscientist Dr. Patrick McGeer died this week, age 95. After attending Princeton University and working in the US in the 1950s he spent the rest of his illustrious career here in his native British Columbia.

He came from one of the most notorious political families in Vancouver. His uncle Gerry McGeer, an MLA, MP, Senator and two-term mayor -- well, actually a term and a bit; he...

August 10, 2022

Since last year August 1 has been recognized as Emancipation Day in Canada, commemorating the abolition of slavery. I hadn't seen the relevance for British Columbia. Slavery was not practised here (except by Indigenous people but that is a different story). Indeed, many Black people came here in the colonial period to escape the slave masters south of the border.

But I had not considered the possible connections my own community, North Vancouver, has to the slave trade. Recently North...

July 25, 2022

About three years ago I spent a fascinating afternoon touring Mount Pleasant with an ultra-knowledgeable guide, Christine Hagemoen. Mount Pleasant was pretty much the first residential suburb of Vancouver. Settlement began in the 1890s on either side of its commercial corridor, Main Street south of False Creek. As Christine explained, the community also developed around a creek, the evidence ...

July 4, 2022

The Sunday New York Times has an article about some of that city's long-ago literary hangouts. The White Horse Tavern where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. The Algonquin Hotel where members of the Round Table exchanged witticisms. The Gumby Book Studio, a Harlem writers' salon. And others.

Every city has its gathering places where the artsy crowd like to hang out,...

June 27, 2022

I was disappointed last week to hear that the BC premier, John Horgan, was revisiting his government's plan to build a new provincial museum.

I understand that the $800-million project had become an anchor that was threatening to sink his political ambitions. The opposition, and the press, had successfully portrayed the rebuild as a boondoggle and a "vanity project". (Why are sports...

Pages