Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dead Prime Ministers in The Beaver

In Washington, D.C., where I'm going next week, the centre of town is thick with shrines to dead presidents. The tour guides I've been browsing in make much of them. Indeed they look spectacular.

In Canada, our prime ministers lie quietly in family plots in public cemetaries. If your travels take you to Compton, PQ, or St Mary's, Ont., or Saskatoon, or you have time to spare in Ottawa, Montreal, or Halifax, you could commune with the local dead prime minister. I would guess you would not be bothered by crowds, as we will be in Washington. This, I think, is a good thing.

Also good: those prime ministerial graves may be quiet, but they have not been neglected. The Gravesites of the Prime Ministers segment of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board's website has a rather attractive guide to its program for preserving and making known the prime ministerial graves of Canada. Dig deep enough in the small print and you will find that the text of the (downloadable) guidebook there is written by, well, moi. But there is a great deal of other info too, not the least of it Google Map links that will do everything but drive your car to the relevant parking lots.

The gravesites preservation program, and what it says about Canadian politics and Canadian sensibilities, inspired my column in the August-September Beaver. If you subscribed like you oughta, you would not have to schlep out in the heat and humidity to buy one, right?
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