Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative


October 14, 2022

The 1907 anti-Asian riots are remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in Vancouver's history. A crowd of several thousand people gathered at city hall to support a rally against Asian immigration. Following the meeting a mob descended on Chinatown, trashing businesses and threatening residents, before moving on to Powell Street to attack the Japanese community. (The...

October 2, 2022

In case you missed it -- and it was very easy to miss, given the scarcity of book news these days -- the BC Book Prizes were awarded last week. Here are the winners.

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize -- Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking/Penguin Random House)

Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize -- Jordan Abel, NISHGA (M&S/Penguin Random House)

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize -- Henry Doyle, No Shelter (Anvil Press)

Roderick Haig-...

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...

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...