Sunday, November 10, 2013

This post is gonna cost you a hundred bucks

... because if you share the interests of this blog, you really want to be a member of The Champlain Society, annual dues $100.  Here's where you send the money.

The Champlain Society, flourishing since 1905, publishes one book a year, each one a handsomely produced, edited, annotated collection of documents from Canadian history. Its first publications, more than a century ago, were the complete works of Champlain himself. But the society has gone far afield since. The 106th volume, just gone out to members, is Norman Hillmer's edition of the papers, letters, and diary entries of the early 20th century Ottawa Man par excellence O.D. Skelton  (Hillmer: "These days I explain he was Mackenzie King's Nigel Wright, and everyone understands.")

The society was once the preserve of gents and knights, and one was invited to join (or not). Those days are long gone. The society now relies almost entirely on the support of those who choose to join it. And in recent years it has been burning through its accumulated reserves at an impressive rate as membership has gently declined.

Dutil wants you.
The directors have stopped the hemorrhaging lately. These days they are led by Patrice Dutil, who somehow manages to be an historian in two languages, a scholar of public administration, and someone with most unhistorian-like gift for actually running things. The society has been cutting costs (not on the books) and they have been making some very promising investments. In a couple of months every book in the Champlain Society will be available as an ebook, freely downloadable (freely as in no charge) to Kindle, Kobo, laptop, iPhone, whatever ... but only if you are a member.

Surely anyone who takes a large and culturally enlightened view of Canadian history ought to be a member. But the current membership of the Society is under 300. It's an impressive list, but the list of those who should be members, but are not, seems vast.

I drank some of the Society's wine at their AGM yesterday  (comp'ed -- for the first time. They found a winery sponsor.) As I left, I congratulated Dutil and he thanked me for coming, and he said, "Hey, maybe you will say something about this on that blog."

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