Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


Lunch at the Vancouver Club

April 10, 2024

This past weekend the Vancouver Historical Society held its annual luncheon to commemorate the incorporation of the city in 1886. This year's lunch was at the Vancouver Club in the ballroom of its gorgeous 1914 "clubhouse" downtown on Hastings Street.

Attendees, which included myself, enjoyed a delicious lunch, an instructive talk by society president Michael Kluckner (viewable on YouTube) and as a special treat a guided tour of the building's secret rooms and back staircases.

It gives me an excuse to post one of my favourite photos from my book Becoming Vancouver, a 1920 shot of the Club's membership, oozing respectability and white male privilege. (City of Vancouver Archives PortP1187)

March 28, 2024

Construction began last week on a new Vancouver Art Gallery, much discussed but now apparently coming to fruition.

It is almost 100 years since a group of wealthy business types in the city announced they were offering $100,000 towards the creation of a civic art gallery. The person usually associated with this initiative is...

March 13, 2024

Wayne McCrory has won the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for his fascinating wildlife study, The Wild Horses of the Chilcotin, from Harbour Publishing. The Stuart-Stubbs Prize goes to the year's outstanding scholarly book on British Columbia.

Wild Horses is an artful combination of field work, academic...

February 28, 2024

Two things to draw your attention to.

First, a fine new book by and about the Squamish Nation. Tiná7 Cht Ti Temíxw: We Come From This Land describes the history and future of the Squamish, whose traditional territory includes Howe Sound and the shores of Burrard Inlet. One chapter, for example, tells the story of Senákw, a village site in False Creek with a complicated history of dispossession where the Squamish are now involved in a large, and controversial,...

February 7, 2024

Joe's Cafe is a landmark on Vancouver's Commercial Drive, not least because of an infamous political protest that broke out there in 1990. When the owner ejected two lesbian patrons for openly kissing on the premises, he touched off a boycott of the cafe by supporters of gay rights. The protest lasted several months until the owner apologized.

What brings this to mind is that the incident is included in a new online "digital storymap" about Vancouver produced by a group of history...

January 28, 2024

One Christmas present I very much appreciated was Jonathan Raban's last book, Father and Son.

I've admired Raban's writing for many years, ever since reading Coasting, his wonderful account of sailing around Great Britain in 1982, also a meditation on the damage that Margaret Thatcher was doing to his native country. When I read it I was in a sailboat myself, cruising through...