Letters of the Lost Franklin Expedition
Special to the Globe and Mail May We Be Spared to Meet on Earth: Letters of the Lost Franklin Arctic Expedition; Edited by Russell A. Potter, Regina Koellner, Peter Carney, and Mary Williamson (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 481 pages) From out of England and the mid-19th century, place names come whirling at you: Greenhithe, Bedford Place,…Read More
An Open Letter to Explorer John Rae
Dear Dr. Rae: You have been gone from us since July 22, 1893 – precisely one hundred and twenty-nine years. I write from the future to mark the day of your passing. What to report from 2022? Six years ago, I relayed the news that searchers have found the two long-lost ships of Sir John…Read More
Singing 4 books at the Fergus Scottish Festival
All right, singing may be an overstatement. But four books, four half-hour talks, THAT is going to happen. On August 13 and 14, Ken will see to it in the Heritage Village at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. This oldest festival of its kind in North America attracts thousands to Fergus, Ontario, ninety…Read More
Tracking Jack Kerouac deep into Quebec
The ancestral homestead in the Quebec countryside is long gone. But a monument, unrelated, marks the spot where it stood – and where, in August 1967, Jack Kerouac came to visit. Born in Lowell, Mass., in 1922, the author best-known for On The Road would have turned 100 last March. The township he visited at…Read More
WAKE-UP-TO-CANADA DAY – TAKE 2
So here we are in Quebec, Kamouraska country, with me chasing around after my 17th-century Quebecois ancestors. Sheena shot these pix. Are we having fun yet? You betcha! Because also we are celebrating WAKE-UP-TO-CANADA DAY! Whole-heartedly. Unreservedly. Even, dare I say it, unapologetically. Of course we Canadians face a myriad of concerning issues, starting…Read More
HAPPY WAKE-UP-TO-CANADA DAY!
So the American fanatics who recently turned back the clock 50 years? They are are just getting started. They are bent on turning America into a totalitarian state. First the rights of pregnant women. Next those of gays, of non-whites, you get the idea. Think Germany — not of the 1940s and full-blown Nazism but…Read More
Mavis Gallant! Can you say Richardson?
BANFF – Mavis Gallant, Canada’s foremost expatriate writer, is more passionate about her national identity than her readers know. “If I’d had the responsibility of children,” Gallant told me in 1992 — yes, thirty years ago — “I would definitely have come back to Canada.” The celebrated author, who emigrated to France in 1950, said…Read More
Tomorrow Belongs to Nous Autres . . .
So I am absurdly pleased with myself. I recently revisited John Walker’s brilliant documentary Quebec Mon Pays. You’ll remember that I raved about it back in 2016? When it appeared? Yeah, right. This time around, I was taken with the tune that victorious Pequistes sang in celebration of the 1976 election of the Parti Quebecois,…Read More
How Irish Coffin Ships changed Canada
An excellent article in the June/July issue of Canada’s History magazine, written by Don Cummer, tells the story of how in the 1840s thousands of Irish refugees fled the Great Hunger for a new life in Canada. It brought back memories of how in 2019 I spent a couple of months ranging around Ireland while…Read More
Triple whammy rocks Franklin World
Greetings, Franklinistas. Today I bring you not one, not two, but three exciting developments on the Franklin Front. First, after a forced, two-year break courtesy of COVID-19, Canadian archeologists have returned to the Arctic to research the sites of our country’s most famous shipwrecks. A Parks Canada underwater archeology team has already started under-the-ice explorations…Read More