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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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Yo! The RCGS made me an ambassador!

Canadian Geographic Adventures feature a notable Canadian Geographic Ambassador, selected from within RCGS and Canadian Geographic programs, such as Explorers-in-Residence, Photographers-in-Residence, Filmmakers-in-Residence, the RCGS Board of Governors and the RCGS College of Fellows. The Ambassador is an additional resource alongside exceptional local guides who deliver the program through our travel partners.  When not locked down…

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Fighting words from the literary trenches

Quote Ken quoting Ken? Why not? Most denizens of the Canadian Book World are avid readers of SHuSH, the weekly newsletter produced by Ken Whyte, author and publisher of Sutherland House. He observed recently, in an offering headlined Publishing Into the Void, that for authors, “reliance on mainstream media is increasingly untenable today because mainstream…

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Awakening Canadians to war crimes

 These atrocities and war crimes. They’re hitting us so hard, I think, because we’re experiencing them in real time – almost as they happen — from the comfort of our living rooms.  To those who have poked around in the history of the 20th century, the horrors being wrought in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin are…

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Shackleton? Endurance? Why so excited?

So what is it about Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance? Why so much excitement about the recent discovery of an old wooden ship at the bottom of the Antarctic ocean? In my book Celtic Lightning, I devote a chapter to Irish-born Shackleton, noting that once upon a time, he came that close to becoming an…

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The assassination of Vladimir Putin

Every morning when I fire up my computer, that’s the headline I expect to see. Either that or “Vladimir Putin Assassinated.” Subhead: “Russian generals announce ceasefire, seek peace talks with Ukraine.” Maybe I am dreaming in technicolor. But perhaps this scenario is not as far-fetched as you might think. I summon Adolf Hitler to the…

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The Sixties? I don’t remember a thing

“If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there.” Take it from me, those words ring true. I was there and don’t remember a damn thing. Which maybe explains why I am getting such a kick out of Ablaze: Ten Years That Shook the World by Peter Rowe. Anybody who WAS there will also tell…

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