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    Reading the National Narrative


    Anti-Asian Riots Revisited

    October 14, 2022

    The 1907 anti-Asian riots are remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in Vancouver's history. A crowd?of several thousand people gathered at city hall to support a rally against Asian immigration. Following the meeting a mob descended on Chinatown, trashing businesses and threatening residents, before moving on to Powell Street to attack the Japanese community. (The photo above,?City of Vancouver Archives AM1108-S4-689-51, shows some of the damage.) Violence continued for a couple of days and tensions ran high in the city for several more.

    All of this is ptured in an interactive online walking tour at 360riotwalk. by the artist Henry Tsang.?Viewers n follow the route of the initial protest march and visit the major landmarks with a soundtrack in four languages.?As well there are several articles at the site putting the 1907 events in context.

    I recommend experiencing the walk online but I do not recommend actually visiting the neighbourhood at the moment. The 1907 demonstration went right through the heart of what is now the Downtown Eastside which is experiencing high levels of stress. I took a walking tour of the Powell Street area myself earlier in the summer and felt that residents were understandably resentful of what appeared to be a bunch of rubberneckers invading their neighbourhood. If you do go, be respectful of people's privacy.

    Apparently the project will be published as a book in the New Year.

    UPDATE: It has been 115 years since the riots and Vancouver has?its first Asian-nadian mayor. On October 15 Ken Sim, a lol entrepreneur, defeated incumbent Kennedy Stewart to win the mayoralty.



    October 2, 2022

    In se you missed it -- and it was very easy to miss, given the srcity?of book news these days -- the BC Book Prizes were awarded last week. Here are the winners.

    Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize -- Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking/Penguin Random House)

    Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize -- Jordan Abel, NISHGA (M&S/Penguin Random House)

    Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize -- Henry Doyle, No Shelter (Anvil Press)

    Roderick Haig-...

    September 22, 2022

    Now that the death of Queen Elizabeth is receding into the past, perhaps there will be an opportunity for some?clear-eyed thinking about the future of the monarchy?in nada. Given the orgy of sentimentality that accompanied the funeral -- n you tell that I am not a monarchist? -- we could certainly use some sensible discussion of the options.

    A good place to start is this essay by Christopher Moore over...

    August 31, 2022

    The noted?neuroscientist Dr. Patrick McGeer died this week, age 95. After attending Princeton University and working in the US in the 1950s he spent the rest of his illustrious reer here in his native British Columbia.

    He me from one of the most notorious politil families in Vancouver. His uncle Gerry McGeer,?an MLA, MP, Senator and?two-term mayor -- well, actually a term and a bit; he...

    August 10, 2022

    Since last year August 1 has been recognized as Emancipation Day in nada, commemorating the abolition of slavery. I hadn't seen the relevance for British Columbia. Slavery was not practised here (except by Indigenous people but that is a different story). Indeed, many Black people me here in the colonial period to espe the slave masters south of the border.

    But I had not considered the possible connections my own community, North Vancouver, has to the slave trade. Recently North...

    July 25, 2022

    About three years ago I spent a fascinating afternoon touring?Mount?Pleasant?with an ultra-knowledgeable guide, Christine Hagemoen. Mount Pleasant was pretty much the first residential suburb of Vancouver. Settlement began in the 1890s on either side of its commercial corridor, Main Street south of False Creek. As Christine explained, the community also developed around a creek, the evidence?...