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Reading the National Narrative


Award Winners

January 13, 2020

Congratulations to Sylvia Hamilton, this year's winner of the Pierre Berton Award, one of the Governor General's History Awards handed out by the folks at Canada's History.

Hamilton is a public historian based in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia. The citation notes that she is "a?direct descendent of the Black Refugees (survivors) of the War of 1812" and "has made an indelible mark on Black history, while enriching and reframing conceptions of Canadian history and its subjects." She sounds like?a Renaissance woman: documentary film maker, installation artist, poet, essayist, historian.

I am also pleased to see that an award for excellence in community programming has gone to the Cumberland Museum and Archives. Cumberland, a small community near Courtenay on Vancouver Island, is blessed to have a museum of such quality. This year's award is for a series of programs relating to the centenary of the death of the labour activist Ginger Goodwin. I first encountered the museum many years ago when I happened to wander in while exploring the area and discovered on the walls images by?the Japanese photographer Senjiro Hayashi. These stunning photos had been taken early in the 20th century, then disappeared. Some of the glass plate negatives actually went into making a greenhouse. They were later?rediscovered and the images that so impressed me that day form part of the museum's collection. (The story of the Hayashi photographs is told in this documentary film.)

Congratulations to all the recipients of the GG History Awards this year.

January 10, 2020

This blog is not concerned with international events but the terrible tragedy in Iran has?me so angry this morning, probably because it has?hit so close to home.

I was just over at my favourite coffee shop which is on Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver. Almost across the street is the memorial outside the?bakery owned by Amir Pasavand who lost his wife and daughter when the plane?went down.?Next door is one of the community's largest Iranian grocery stores. The North Shore, of course...

January 3, 2020

I was up in Powell River over the holiday when, passing Willingdon Beach, I came across this group of brave locals on New Year's Day testing their nerve.

December 17, 2019

November 29, 2019

I have been remiss in not mentioning that The Ormsby Review has grown up and left home, setting off on an independent path.

The Review is an online book?site, publishing reviews of most every book published about?British Columbia. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the board.) As well, editor Richard Mackie serves up the odd literary essay, by himself and by other contributors.

The Review began life under the protective wing of Alan Twigg and his BC Bookworld?"empire...

November 27, 2019

The day's news includes the deaths of two British cultural icons.

You might say that Clive James, poet and all-round man of letters, has been dying for a decade. It has been that long since he received a terminal cancer diagnosis and announced it to the world. His lovely 2014 poem "Japanese Maple" contains the final lines:

Filling the double doors to bathe my...


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