Tag Archives: Canada

How to Restore Your Faith in Democracy, according to Charles Taylor

12 Nov

Plato proposed a republic run by enlightened philosophers, and [Charles] Taylor has some ideas about what he might do if he were in charge. In big cities, he told me, it’s easy for people to feel engaged in the project of democracy; they’re surrounded by the drama of inclusion. But in the countryside, where jobs are disappearing, main streets are empty, and church attendance is down, democracy seems like a fantasy, and people end up “sitting at home, watching television. Their only contact with the country’s problems is a sense that everything’s going absolutely crazy. They have no sense of control.” He advocates raising taxes and giving the money to small towns, so that they can rebuild. He is in favor of localism and “subsidiarity”—the principle, cited by Alexis de Tocqueville and originating in Catholicism, that problems should be solved by people who are nearby. Perhaps, instead of questing for political meaning on Facebook and YouTube, we could begin finding it in projects located near to us. By that means, we could get a grip on our political selves, and be less inclined toward nihilism on the national scale. (It would help if there were less gerrymandering and money in politics, too.)

Read more about Canadian Catholic Charles Taylor’s views on the U.S., democracy, and our election here at the New Yorker: How to Restore Your Faith in Democracy – The New Yorker

The Massacre at Frog Lake — What Really Happened

27 Apr

The slaughter of unarmed Canadians in the late 1800s continues to resonate. Steven Butler explains a bit of the past of First Nations and Euro-Canadians in the Great Plains: The Massacre at Frog Lake — What Really Happened | Flashback | OZY

For first time, Canada’s indigenous flex their electoral muscles in a big way

24 Oct

For decades, many of Canada’s Aboriginals have viewed voting in federal elections as something foreign. But that changed this year, as a newly galvanized community made their voices heard.

Source: For first time, Canada’s indigenous flex their electoral muscles in a big way – CSMonitor.com

Wild Irish Foes

12 Mar


St. Patrick’s Day nears. Jennifer Gavin at the Library of Congress describes some things that happened on the borders of the U.S. and Canada in 1866 that tie to Ireland and to the Civil War:

Fenian. It’s a noun that describes a member of an Irish or Irish-American brotherhood dedicated to freeing Ireland from British dominion. The name was taken from the “Fianna,” a group of kings’ guards led by the legendary Irish leader of yore, Finn MacCool.

Bet you didn’t know that in 1866, large numbers of Irishmen (back in Ireland) and Irish-American men mustered out of service in the Civil War staged military-style actions in the name of their Fenianism, including a couple of attacks on Canada. (t was one of a handful of episodes in history of arms being taken up from within the U.S. against our northern neighbor – more on that shortly). The idea was to draw out the British military to focus on the Canadian trouble (Canada, at that time, being a British colony), making it easier for the Irish rebels to seize power back in Ireland and declare it a separate, self-governed nation.

Read the rest of her post here: Wild Irish Foes | Library of Congress Blog.

The First World War, Winnipeg, and Winnie-the-Pooh

22 Jul

‘Tis the season for vacationing, and my wife and I just returned from some time in Manitoba, a day’s drive north of us here in Iowa.

While in Winnipeg, we spent much of the day in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg’s answer to Central Park and Golden Gate Park. We did not see everything, but we enjoyed what we did see.

This bear-made-of-plants is featured at one point:

Winnie, Assiniboine Park, 7-18-14

In the building pictured behind the plant-bear (the Pavilion Gallery), we found out why.

In 1914, veterinarian Harry Colebourn purchased an orphaned bear cub and named him Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg. Colebourn was a lieutenant in the Fort Garry Horse Militia, where he practiced his veterinary profession. The unit went to Europe that year–a hundred years ago this year–to fight in the Great War, and Winnie went along as a mascot.

Winnie did not return to Canada, but instead was given to the London Zoo. There, Winnie entranced a young Christopher Robin Milne–and Christopher’s father, A.A. Milne, eventually wrote Winnie-the-Pooh.

(There is a brief YouTube clip which nicely dramatizes all this:

Thanks for the link, Sam Martin!)

Winnie, Assiniboine Park, 7-18-14 (2)So, an English classic of children’s literature has ties not only to World War I, but to Winnipeg. Neither the war nor the Manitoba metropolis are apparent in the book itself. Winnipeggians, however–indeed, Canadians in general–are quite eager to make the connections clear.

Perhaps this can remind us of at least two things. First, that the World War did entangle much of the world from the beginning, not only Europe. Second, that even out of world-encompassing death and destruction can come, by grace, some beautiful things.

Exploring the Past

Reading, Thinking, and Blogging about History

Enough Light

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't." - Blaise Pascal

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Preparing to Participate in God's Mosaic Kingdom

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Stuff That Needs To Be Said

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"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

The Pietist Schoolman

The website and blog of historian Chris Gehrz

Reformed Journal: The Twelve

Reformed. Done Daily.


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Thoughtful Conversation about the American West

Northwest History

"History is the record of our loves in all their magnificent and ignoble forms." Eugene McCarraher

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