The Republic of Canada

Because my current interest in history began with the American Revolution, one of the first questions I asked was: why didn’t Canadians fight for independence like Americans did? One answer is that they did. Violent rebellions in present day Ontario and Quebec happened within living memory of and were influenced by the American Revolution and, while they were not on the scale of the Revolutionary War, they did contribute to Britain loosening its grip on its remaining North American colonies.

I’d heard of those Upper and Lower Canada Rebellions, but not of the so-called Patriot War that immediately followed. This year-long war, explains Shaun J. McLaughlin in The Patriot War Along the New York-Canada Boarder, was “a historical oddity,” an “undeclared war between the United States and the Canadian colonies.” What makes it odd is that it was “not a war between nations,” but rather a war fought between an alliance of likeminded Canadians and Americans against the combined might of the British and American militaries and Canadian militiamen.

The pivotal event between the Rebellions and the Patriot War was the declaration of a Republic of Canada by William Lyon Mackenzie. As you may know, Mackenzie is most famous for leading a rebel assault against Toronto, the city of which he had recently been mayor. What’s less well-known is what he did next.

Having lost the battle but not yet the war, Mackenzie and other rebels fled to the United States. There, the “fiery and accomplished orator” rallied Americans to his cause of a free Canada, comparing “the suffering of Canadians to the ‘same evils’ that had caused” the American Revolution.

On December 14th, 1837, Mackenzie and other “Patriots” invaded Canada with 24 men and two cannons. Well, kinda. The invasion involved the occupation of the small Navy Island in the Niagara River, technically on the Canadian side. Still, Mackenzie proclaimed a “Republic of Canada,” a kind of government in exile, and the bold move attracted more people to the island.

“At its peak,” writes McLaughlin, “the island’s Patriot force numbered approximately six hundred, almost equally Canadian and American.” Their artillery also increased to twenty-four cannons, which they used to bombard the Canadian mainland.

Loyal Canadians were unamused by said bombardment. Just two weeks after the beginning of the Patriot occupation, sixty Upper Canadian militiamen “rowed across the icy river in darkness” to seize and set aflame the rebels’ supply ship. In a scene worthy of HBO, “the blazing craft grounded on rocks and broke apart, its pieces plummeting over the falls.” The short-lived Navy Island occupation fizzled out two weeks later, in part, says McLaughlin, because the rebels were bored and cold.

One detail prevented the Republic of Canada’s demise from being a tidy victory for Upper Canada. The supply ship the militia destroyed — the Caroline — was American, and an American soldier was killed in the process. So, that was a whole thing. Americans were outraged, and “sent money and ammunition to Mackenzie. American volunteers soon outnumbered Canadians in the Patriot army.”

Thus, “a bungled revolt near Toronto” evolved “into a yearlong undeclared border war” between Canadian rebels and American would-be liberators on one side, and the British and American militaries and loyal Canadian militia on the other.

Next week’s post will recount the bloodiest battle of that war, the Battle of the Windmill.

Featured image: a contemporary painting of the destruction of the Caroline by George Tattersall.

The French Canadian Mayor of Los Angeles

Early this morning I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I now suddenly live, having moved from New York City for a new job. One of the implications for this blog is I now have to decide if my weekly post deadline is still midnight Sunday Eastern Time, or if I’ll give myself an extra three hours and adapt to my new local time. Another implication is that I’m thinking about historical Canadian connections to California.

Today, Los Angeles is the undisputed megacity of California, but in 1852 L.A. had a population of only about five thousand people, way fewer than San Francisco’s 36,151. And at least some of L.A.’s growth into what it is today is credited to a former French Canadian mayor.

Prudent Beaudry was mayor of Los Angeles from 1876-1878. I learned about him and his brothers from Gaétan Frigon’s chapter in Legacy: How French Canadians Shaped North America. The Beaudry bros were born outside Montreal. When Prudent Beaudry was 32, he decided to follow his brother Victor to San Francisco, where, Frigon writes, the two Canadian business men set up a business selling — and this is not a joke — syrup and ice.

Two years later in 1852, Beaudry moved to the small town of Los Angeles which counted six hundred French speakers among its population of around five thousand. He began to build his fortune in real estate, buying up and developing “barren” land just north of downtown L.A., including what today are the neighbourhoods of Bunker Hill and Angelino Heights.

“This 1869 view of Los Angeles, looking south from First and Broadway, shows an undeveloped Bunker Hill flanking the the growing city. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries,” taken from this article about the development of Bunker Hill

“The subdivisions would be worthless, though,” explains Frigon, “unless water could be conveyed to them.” So next he needed to create the Los Angeles City Water Company, which pumped water to his new “upscale residential neighbourhoods.” To design the villas, he turned to “an engineer from the first graduating class of Montreal’s École Polytechnique.”

Twenty four years after he first moved to L.A., in 1876, Beaudry was elected mayor. By at least one account, he was a pivotal one:

The 1889 publication An Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, by J.J. Warner, a prominent citizen who knew Beaudry well, contains the following assessment of the French Canadian’s time as mayor: “It was a transition period for Los Angeles, and the services of just such a clear-headed, energetic and incorruptible man as Mr. Beaudry were needed to guide the struggling young city through the difficulties of changing from a Spanish American town to the proud position of being the commercial and political rival of San Francisco…”

Historian Hubert Howe Bancroft backed up this assessment, writing in 1890 that “there is no one to whose enterprise and public-spirited policy of Los Angeles is more indebted for her development from a struggling village in 1852 to its present position as the metropolis of southern California.”

I maybe shouldn’t be so surprised that L.A. had a French Canadian mayor, because Beaudry wasn’t even the first! Damien Marchesseault, also from Quebec and an associate of Victor Beaudry, became mayor a few years after Prudent Beaudry moved to town. He killed himself in the council chamber, though.

In another weird detail, the other Beaudry bro, Jean-Louis Beaudry, was mayor of Montreal at the same time as Prudent was mayor of L.A. I’m going to have to find more time to dig into these guys, because I haven’t even gotten into some of the other details found in Beaudry’s Wikipedia page, including his belief that the United States should annex Canada, and Victor Beaudry’s provisioning of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War.

That’s it for this week, delivered before midnight in my old timezone. I expect this blog will adapt to Pacific time over the coming weeks, maybe more quickly than I do.

Camping

Ironically, I’m not able to do a standard post about Canada this week because I am away from home, in Canada. Specifically, I am in a part of Canada that has very little internet access, and where, in fact, use of the internet is regulated and discouraged. That’s because I’m at a kids’ summer camp, where we are supposed to be focused on canoeing, swimming, crafts, and nature. So I’ll instead just tell you a little of the history of this place, and hope that I can publish it to the web using one of the single intermittent bars of cell service available to me.

Camp Big Canoe was founded in 1968, and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. I spent 16 consecutive summers here, starting as a very young “PeeWee” camper and concluding as Head Waterfront. I coveted that job because it finally meant that no one else could make me go in the water if I didn’t want to, and usually, I didn’t.

As always, I’m fascinated by how time passes. When I first came here in (I think) 1989, it felt like the camp had been here forever. But it was just barely 20 years old, and 1998 is uncomfortably closer to 1968 than to today. My teen coworkers this week (I’m teaching canoeing, but need to be minded by teen lifeguards, because the only certified lifeguards you can ever find are teens) are sure to remind me that they were not even born when I was first on staff, something I also remember marvelling at when former staff would come to visit us.

Because all Big Canoe campers go on at least one out-trip, I would often encounter people from other camps while paddling through various provincial parks, and they would always laugh at what they thought was our camp’s funny name, and make some kind of joke about how our canoes were, in fact, regular size.

Such encounters were teaching opportunities, because Camp Big Canoe is in fact named after the Big Canoe family from Georgina Island. The predecessor of Camp Big Canoe (or CBC, as it is confusingly abbreviated) had been located on Georgina Island, which is an Ojibwa/Chippewa reserve, and a relationship had developed between the Big Canoes and the camp.

The camp’s account of its history says that Chief Lorenzo Big Canoe lit the first campfire, and that his children Wanda and Albert returned 25 years later to again light a fire and renew the relationship. When I was staff in 2001 (or maybe 2002?) one of my campers was also a member of the Big Canoe family.

Children’s summer camps are often egregious examples of the appropriation of Indigenous cultures. They are situated on unceded Indigenous land, make use of racist caricatures as logos and craft activities, and give themselves names from Indigenous languages or just make up names that “sound native.” (CBC’s predecessor camp was called “Ahshunyoong,” a word that no one has bothered to define or explain in any camp materials I’ve found, and which does not exist online, in that spelling, outside of the context of that camp).

I don’t mean to whitewash this camp’s history (again, a previous incarnation was literally located on land reserved for the Chippewa nation), and I’m certainly not an impartial observer, having spent so many foundational years here. But I’m glad that this camp at least has an identifiable relationship with the Indigenous family it is named after, and that the staff manual, in the context of explaining this history, includes a prohibition against “copying” or “mimicking” the traditions or dress of Indigenous peoples, calling them “ancient” and “sacred.”

I’ll remain in Muskoka until next weekend, but will try to find some more time and internet between now and then for the next post. When I’m not trying to blog, it’s a blessing that reliable mobile service still hasn’t come to Camp Big Canoe, making it seem remarkably unchanged by the outside world and the passage of time. As soon as I put my devices away, it could almost be 1989 again.

Canada is home to the oldest evidence of life on Earth

Ironically, the further we get from the distant past, the more we understand it. We learn more about recent historical events as we gain perspective on them, we learn more about ancient civilizations as we discover new archeological artifacts, and we learn more about the origins of life itself through similar discoveries and scientific research.

The past is not fixed, and we are always discovering new instances of the oldest version of something. For example, our understanding of how long ago life began on Earth is informed by the oldest evidence of life we’ve been able to find so far. In 2011, a discovery in Australia had life originating there 3.4 billion years ago. Australia got to hold on to that distinction until earlier this year, when traces of life from at least 3.8 billion years ago were found in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. The CBC reported on the Nature paper:

While there is some debate as to whether or not the the age of the rock in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt is 3.8 billion years old or 4.3 billion years old, Jonathan O’Neil, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, believes it to be on the older side. But even if the rock is younger than that, it would still make their finding the oldest record of life on Earth, by 100 million years.

So, Canada is the site of the earliest life on Earth. Unless and until someone finds even earlier life somewhere else.

Ontario

As Canada celebrates 150 years, it’s worthwhile to think back to an earlier time when southwestern Ontario was a collection of villages. The population of just the area between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron was around 20,000 or 30,000, spread out over about 20 small communities. The economy was different than it is today, but still strong by the standards of the time. People worked as farmers, potters, carpenters, and fishers. One of southern Ontario’s main exports was corn, and the people in the region tended to import clothing and exotic goods like fur and tobacco.

If you’re picturing a bunch of European settlers, you haven’t gone back far enough. The land I’m describing was not yet called Ontario, and the people were not Ontarian. South and western Ontario, before it was named that, was home to a confederation of nations who collectively called themselves Wendat. You’ve maybe never heard that word before, because when the French showed up they named the Wendat “Huron” instead (the French were always renaming everything), and that is the name that, unjustly, has stuck for the modern day county that was their land, and the lake that was their lake.

And even the Wendat confederacy — which yes, fit the above description, including many villages, defined systems of government, foreign policy, trade agreements, and a culture of art, sport, and cuisine (if you’ll pardon the contextually awkward use of a French word) — was just the latest configuration of an unfathomably long history of human occupation.

People have lived in the land now called Ontario for at least ten thousand years. At least. Ten thousand years. That includes many thousands of years when Ontario was covered in ice year-round. Then 5,300 years ago Ontario warmed enough, the ice retreating northward, to have “reached essentially present-day [climate] conditions,” writes Bruce Trigger in The Children of Aataentsic, his history of the Wendat. We know that by then people had copper tools, caught fish, enjoyed leisure time. Trade was already happening “over vast distances,” across today’s provincial and international borders. By at least 3,000 years ago people from the land now called Ontario were making pottery. As of at least 2,500 years ago, they built buildings.

Buildings in southwestern Ontario. 2,500 years ago. I didn’t know that, and my astonishment reveals a mixture of ignorance and, I think, racist assumptions about Indigenous peoples. My image of pre-colonial Ontario was more one of wilderness, which of course was at least partly true. But the more I learn about pre-colonial history, the more I feel a great number of things, including a dull horror and the scale of what was shoved aside by European invaders.

I mean, imagine. Imagine heading up Ontario’s highway 6 from Hamilton to Owen Sound, then turning left on route 21 and driving almost all the way to Southhampton, then jumping into your time machine and setting it to 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Assuming your TARDIS or Infinite Improbability Drive or whatever works, you’ll soon be staring at some large houses, a nearby cemetery, and a group of people, looking up from their fishing, wondering who the hell you are and where you came from.

While we’re imagining you have access to a time machine, let’s imagine you’re also immortal. You like the looks of this country and decide to stay. You’d have to live here for more than 2,000 years before a European (he would more likely label himself a “Christian”showed up. That’s not as long as Marvin waited for his companions to show up at Milliways, but still a longer time than is really conceivable.

You’d watch thousands of years of history happen around you. Births, deaths, parties, spiritual experiences, religious ceremonies, artistic creations, political machinations, trade negotiations, heroes, villains, war and peace, fallings in and out of love. For 2,000 years.

Then, after 2,000 years, after you meet that first Christian, you have to wait almost 500 more years before you find yourself suddenly surrounded by a bunch of people celebrating the 150th anniversary of “Canada.” At that point 150 years would include only 6% of the time you’d spent on the land, and in your 2,500 years you still would have witnessed only a small fraction of the land’s full human history.

I wrote at the outset that Canadian history needs to be understood in the context of world history, so I’ve been learning about the histories of other nations (especially France, Britain, and the United States) and how their stories have interfaced with ours. But we don’t even need to leave Canada’s current borders to have the histories of hundreds of nations to explore.

The immensity of that is daunting, but in the spirit of you-gotta-start-somewhere, I’ve started with the Wendat, the confederacy I described, along with their neighbours, above. I already wrote briefly about their attitudes towards sex and marriage. At least one future post — maybe several — will explore their culture and society in more detail.

Featured photo, “Camping & Lake Huron,” by Josh Farewell.

Canada vs. The Union

It would be difficult, should the American experiment fail, for the rest of the world not to gloat. After all, Americans had so often held themselves up as the ideal republic, to be emulated by lesser nations. That was at least the feeling in much of Britain and Canada as southern states began to secede from the union in 1860 on the eve of the American Civil War. But gloating would be short-sighted, because Canada and the British would soon find themselves on the brink of entering the American Civil War against the North.

My non-scientific poll of Canadian friends reveals little familiarity with the incident I’m about to describe, as well as a level of surprise that, were Canada to pick a side in the American Civil War, its most likely position would have been to fight against Lincoln’s Union. Here’s how it went down.

First, the North became pissed off with the British very early in the Civil War, when Britain granted “belligerency status” to the Confederacy. While not equalling full diplomatic recognition, this status did give the Confederacy more than zero legitimacy and allowed them some equal rights to the Union, like the use of neutral ports for fueling and repairs.

Why would Britain extend even this level of support to the rebels so quickly? Historians tend to agree that Britain was partial to helping out the South for a couple of reasons. One, they figured secession would be permanent, and that therefore they may as well start establishing relations with this new country. Two, and related, Britain got a lot of cheap cotton from the South, and that in turn was good for their industrial economy, and who really wants to think too hard about why the cotton was so cheap, the point is that it was cheap and cheap is good.

What could go wrong? The biggest risk, writes Herman Hattaway, was “the unsettling realization that the provinces of Canada lay open, virtually undefended, should the North decide to invade in retaliation for any British aid to the Confederacy.” Another historian says that “if the United States had decided, with its enormous armies in place during the Civil War, to march against Canada, Britain would have been helpless to stop it.”

Worse, if Britain tried to reinforce Canada, the supply chain depended on a river that was full of obstacles and frozen solid much of the year. Support would also be difficult because, Hattaway continues, “the Canadians never had gotten around to finishing their interprovincial rail line.” (“Damnit! Let’s not make that mistake again,” thought Canada.)

Then on November 8th, 1861, under these already tense circumstances, a Union ship seized some Confederate diplomats who were on their way to Europe. That might not have been a big deal, except that the Confederate diplomats were traveling on a British mail ship in neutral waters, which now starts to make this look like an act of war by the Union against the British empire. (The ship was called the RMS Trent, which is why this whole incident is known to historians as the Trent Affair.)

The reaction of the British public was not positive. One American in Britain at the time hypothesized that “were the country polled I fear 999 men out of 1,000 would declare for immediate war.” But as mad as the British were, they were far away in Britain. Except for the ones in Canada. Those ones were in Canada.

So the government in Britain started planning a preemptive Canadian invasion of the northern United States, starting with an attack on a fort on Lake Champlain, the scene of so many battles from both before and after Champlain named that lake after himself. (The French were always renaming everything.)

On December 4th, about a month after the Union’s transgression, President Lincoln met with future Canadian Father of Confederation Alexander Galt. The Dominion of Canada didn’t exist yet, but the Province of Canada did (try not to get them confused, or do, who cares, it’s all pretty fluid), and Galt was Canada’s Inspector General.

Instead of being reassured, the Canadian came away from his meeting with the American President concerned that “the policy of the American Govt is so subject to popular impulses, that no assurance can be or ought to be relied on under present circumstances.”

Within weeks, on December 18th, the British started moving troops to Canada in anticipation of war with the American North. As always, the ships they sent had to dodge ice in order to make it into Canada’s mouth. Eleven ships over two weeks transported more than 10,000 troops to Canada. Many were moved further inland across, ahem, ~acres of snow~ by sled, uncomfortably close to the Maine border, since the only available railroad went through Maine itself. (This country really needs its own railroad!)

Meanwhile the streets of Toronto were full of “excited discussions” about “the probabilities of a fight with the Americans.” Canadians themselves began organizing for war, activating and training tens of thousands of militia members. Unfortunately, the Canadian militia was a lazy parody of itself, with officers literally prefacing their orders with “please” and getting underwhelming response in return.

So what happened? Ultimately the Union concluded that beginning a war with Britain, in addition to their war against the Confederate rebels, was unwise. Regardless of the military dimensions, the threat of war was hurting the economies of all parties, and the longterm ramifications of a conflict with Britain would be bad. Additionally, there were members of the Union government who weren’t convinced the removal of passengers from a British ship had been legal. To avoid war, the United States backed down and released the prisoners, which satisfied the British.

The close call left a lasting impression on Canadians, who embarked on the project of Confederation just a few years later, in large part to create a political counterweight to the expansionary re-United States. The first order of business: finish the railroad!

Canada is 150 years old

Very shortly after I started this blog I wrote a piece called Canada is not 150 years old which, if nothing else, was a needed addition to the “Canada is not” genre.

My main argument was that 150 years is an arbitrary age to apply to Canada, “too large a number to mark Canada’s independence, too small to hug the full story of a country of nations that is still incubating.” I focused mostly on the incremental stages of colonial history, which include more than 400 years of continuous European-descended settlement, but only 86 years of legislative independence, and only 35 years of constitutional autonomy. Why, I wondered, do we focus so much on Confederation, just one bend in a long river, and let it define Canada’s age so definitively?

I also mentioned the thousands of years of human occupation and cultures that predate European arrival, but I didn’t lean too strongly on that, and I didn’t explain why. Relatedly, when I first announced I was going to spend 2017 blogging weekly about Canadian history, the top response I received was something like “I hope you write a lot about Indigenous history.” Notably, though, those requests all came from non-Indigenous people.

I think there are two main reasons for that. One, you don’t generally hear Indigenous people enthusiastically requesting that settlers tell Indigenous stories, because Indigenous people are perfectly capable of telling their own stories, and because settlers tend not to do a very good job of it. Two, from the perspective of many Indigenous people, their histories and identities are not part of Canada’s, except for the ways in which Canada has harmed them.

The nations who were here before the French obviously didn’t think of themselves as Canadian at the time, either. I’ve been writing a bit about the Wendat confederacy for this blog, but by doing so I risk imposing the Canadian narrative and identity on them without their knowledge or consent.

When I published Canada is not 150 years old, a number of people who shared the post agreed with it by way of emphasizing how long Indigenous peoples have lived on this land. Again, all of those people, to my knowledge, were non-Indigenous. The Indigenous people I’m following aren’t generally trying to argue that their thousands of years of histories represent “Canada.” They’re very clear that their histories and national identities stand on their own.

One mercifully unambiguous fact is that today marks 150 years since Confederation, and one clear thing that Confederation did was set off a race of settlement westward, accelerating the pace and intensity of displacement and violence by the new Dominion of Canada against the peoples who already lived here. If you want to insist today is a 150th birthday, then there’s a case to be made you’re talking specifically about the birth of an instrument of colonization.

Canada the country, Canada the confederation, is different from the smaller British colonies that were called Canada before that, and the French colonies that were called Canada before that, and the Indigenous nations that were never called Canada, not in the way we use the word today. In the conclusion to my earlier post about Canada’s age, I wrote:

What’s important, I think, is not that we all agree on the same age, but that we recognize the many shifting boundaries we’ve placed on our story, and what each set of boundaries means. Canada is thousands of years old, and it is a day old, and it has not yet been born.

Today, we’re marking the anniversary of Confederation, the creation of a new legal entity of Canada, one that was determined in many ways to begin anew, painting over a canvass that it imagined, despite all evidence, was blank. Today we’re talking about what that set of boundaries means. Today, Canada is 150 years old.

“The holding of dances by the Indians”

This week, a woman named Sylvia, who tweets as @LawladyINM where she describes herself as “a Treaty 6 descendant” and “proud nehiyaw & Anishnabe woman,” shared this:

This 1921 letter is signed by Duncan Campbell Scott who was, at the time, the deputy superintendent of the department of Indian affairs, and reads like it was written by a decidedly less sympathetic version of Footloose’s Rev. Shaw Moore character. The letter appears to be addressed to an Indian Agent and is primarily concerned that there’s too much dancing going on. It begins:

It is observed with alarm that the holding of dances by the Indians on their reserves is on the increase, and that these practices tend to disorganize the efforts which the Department is putting forth to make them self-supporting.

Why would “dancing” be getting in the way of the department’s “efforts?” Because they were putting effort into the complete obliteration of Indigenous cultures and way of life. “Self-supporting” here means culturally indistinguishable from the dominant Christian European culture.

The letter goes on to say that dancing is an “excessive indulgence,” a “demoralizing amusement” to be suppressed. It will “unsettle [the Indians] for serious work” and “encourage them in sloth and idleness.” Scott also directs the agent not to let any residents leave the reserve “when their absence would result in their own farming and other interests being neglected.” The agent is further instructed to “obtain control and keep it.”

Writing about Sylvia’s tweet for the Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith describes Scott as “one of the most notorious racists in Canadian history,” but I think it’s a mistake to interpret this letter primarily as the directives of one exceptional racist. The text shamelessly points to what were explicit, well-understood, and popular policy objectives of the Government of Canada.

Indigenous cultural practices were not just discouraged, but completely outlawed. For example, potlatches were illegal until 1951. Until around the same time, reserves were often used as prisons, with Indigenous people prohibited from leaving without official permission. And Indigenous populations were often referred to as being like “children,” in need of care by the government of Canada, on behalf of Canadians.

Sylvia’s tweet was shared unusually widely for a piece of Canadian history. It earned 1,562 retweets as of this writing, with many people asking if they could share it outside of Twitter too, on their own Facebook walls or with real life groups. Sylvia replied to each request by granting permission, with a hint that for her this is hardly ancient history:

Quebec

Quebec by Adam Miller

Today in Manhattan I saw a new painting called Quebec by an American named Adam Miller. The Montreal Gazette reported that the painting “was privately commissioned by Salvatore Guerrera, a Montreal patron of the arts” to coincide with Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th anniversaries. Since it’s being shown in New York first before coming to Canada later this year, I figured I had a patriotic duty to go see it, similar to how I felt about seeing Come From Away or, on a much smaller scale, reporting the discovery of a rare bottle of Canadian Club.

Quebec by Adam Miller

The painting compresses time, placing “more than 100 political and historic figures that reference some of the most dramatic events of almost 500 years of history” all in a single moment. It depicts “the Battle of the Long Sault, the deaths of generals Wolfe and Montcalm, the Red River Rebellion, the October Crisis and the Oka Crisis” (jeez I haven’t written about any of those things yet) as well as a large number of prominent politicians and figures.

Miller, who “took a kind of crash course in Quebec history” in order to create the piece, inserted a self-portrait he calls “Confusion,” which is literally just him wearing a scarf, standing in the middle of his own Canadian history creation, looking overwhelmed. It me.

From Adam Miller’s website.

Quebec is being shown at the Booth Gallery near Times Square until July 1st, and it’s free, so if you happen to be in Manhattan before then just swing on by and look to the right as you walk in, you absolutely can’t miss it. (Thanks for the tip, Ruth-Ann!)

Quebec on display at the Booth Gallery

Before you go, or if you’re already staring at the photo of the painting trying to decode it, check out this helpful annotation of historical events and figures in the painting that the Gazette put together.

Hawaiian pizza and blogging weekly

At the start of the year, when I committed to blogging weekly about Canadian history, I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into, nor did I plan to give myself any days off. I’ve defined a “week” as Monday to Sunday, which means that to keep my commitment I need to blog once during that window, and here I find myself on Sunday night at 11:52pm having not written anything. So here’s what I can do in 8 minutes.

Well, it’s not that I haven’t written anything. I’ve got lots of draft posts and stubs of ideas in progress. I just don’t feel like they’re ready to publish. When I started this blog I imagined that as I went about my hobby of reading Canadian history I’d just share casual facts I came across from time to time. But I’ve found it very hard to do that without really spending time to learn the context of those isolated facts, thus the unpublished drafts and stubs.

In the early days of blogging, bloggers would often write very short posts that consisted mostly of a quote from another source, maybe with some added context or commentary. I feel like Twitter mostly killed the utility of that practice, since today it’s usually possible to get the same effect just by tweeting a link to the original post, or by retweeting someone else.

But now it’s 11:57pm, and I need to hit publish very soon. So hey, did you know the apparent inventor of “Hawaiian” pizza was Canadian, and just died? So says The Star:

Panopoulos was born in Greece and emigrated to Canada in 1954 where he and his two brothers operated a number of restaurants.

He said he made the first Hawaiian pizza in 1962 at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ont. after deciding that chunks of canned pineapple might make a tasty topping.

Ok, 11:59pm, gotta publish now! I’m taking some time off next week to write some more substantive posts. (Yes, seriously.)