Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


November 8, 2013

On the occasion of Remembrance Day, a few of my favourite books relating to war.

1. Two wonderful volumes by the Ottawa military historian Tim Cook: At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1914-16 and Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917-18. Cook recreates battles and explains tactics but his finest achievement is to take the reader into the trenches where the soldiers' lives were lived, and lost. And he has interesting things to...

November 5, 2013

I am going to be in Ottawa next week giving a lecture and talking to the students in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.

Forty years ago I attended what was then called the Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton. At the time I was working as a newspaper reporter and the idea was that if I knew more about the country it might make me a better journalist. ...

October 31, 2013

Abolish the Canadian Senate? Sure, why not? But while we're at it, let's abolish the Olympics as well.

Yesterday the CBC reminded us that it is 100 days until the Sochi Games and in the weeks ahead the public broadcaster will air constant updates and features on "our" athletes. But personally I am disappointed that the Mother Corp is even involved.

The Olympics have become a wasteful scandal. By some estimates the Sochi Games will cost upwards of $50 billion. (That compares to...

October 29, 2013


Surely no 20th-century city has such a fraught, complicated and multi-layered history as Berlin. Which makes it a fascinating place to visit, as I did for the first time earlier this month.

As I strolled through the streets of the German capital, I was struck by many things:...

October 27, 2013

The newest issue (#90) of Geist magazine is out and includes my column about a pair of books that bring into question Prime Minister Harper's infamous comment that Canada "has no history of colonialism."

Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Toronto journalist Mary Janigan, revisits the history of resource ownership in the western provinces, while Greg Malone's Don't Tell the Newfoundlanders argues that the Rock's entry into Confederation in 1949...