Friday, February 11, 2011

This month in Canada's History

Lead story in this month's Canada's History, now going out to subscribers, is a photo essay on Canada's best National Historic Sites, including (cover photo) Louisbourg.

The story is in honour of Parks Canada's centennial. Which makes an odd bit of history in itself, because the first national park, Banff, was established in 1885, and Parks Canada noted the 125th anniversary of that last year. But centennials are fudgeable (as I know to my benefit, having written a few commemorative things over the years). Turns out the Dominion Parks Service, later Parks Canada, was established in May 1911, one of the final achievements of the Laurier government before that fall's election, I guess.

Even if that was mostly just a minor bureaucratic reshuffling, Parks Canada is saluting it by giving free admission on July 1 and other goodies, so who's to complain? And the Canada's History article is pretty spectacular too. More available at its website.

My own column for this ish looks at Michael Winter's book from last fall, The Death of Donna Whelen, which he calls a novel but which seems to me a remarkable exercise in documentary reconstruction. Winter uses transcripts of a St. John's murder trial and...
in their fast-flowing talk, their fierce judgments and flashes of kindness, Winter’s talkers lay bare a whole world. Winter says he has written a novel, but this is also one of the most vivid Canadian social histories I have read in years. If historians a hundred years from now are looking for what 1990s working-class St John’s looked and sounded like, The Death of Donna Whalen may be the place they start.
Follow @CmedMoore