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From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

Bob Armstrong

Bob Armstrong is the author of Prodigies, an award-winning Western, and, since 2002, the speech writer for Manitoba’s lieutenant-governor.

Articles by
Bob Armstrong

Plucked

The Breadbasket’s potash problem June 2024
Two and a half centuries ago, the French finance minister Anne Robert Jacques Turgot quipped that taxation is “the art of plucking the hen without making it cry out.” While variations on wording and attribution have circulated ever since (often it’s claimed that an earlier finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, was talking about geese), the lesson has remained consistent: the challenge in government is to find the sweet spot in taxation that will neither scare off investment nor leave a lot of money on the…

Alarm Bells

Fort McMurray and fires hence September 2023
You could say that John Vaillant benefited from a lucky coincidence when the release this spring of his book on climate change, fire, and the near destruction of Fort McMurray, Alberta, in 2016 coincided with smoke blanketing the media capitals of Canada and the United States. But that wouldn’t just be cynical; it would be…

Manitoban Mysteries

Kevin Marc Fournier’s latest May 2023
As a new kid in elementary school in southeast Calgary in the early 1970s, I was assured by classmates that an old brick building just south of town had once been a house of horrors, complete with torture chambers in the attic. (I later learned it had been a home for orphans, the poor, and the…

Wanted Dead or Alive

Why the Western endures October 2022
After Joel Deshaye moved to St. John’s, to take up a position at Memorial University, his partner found two Young Buffalo Bill pistols buried in the garden. Had the original owners of the toy guns ever seen the unbroken grasslands they were meant to evoke? “The boys probably had no memory of Buffalo Bill,” Deshaye writes. “They probably knew him instead as a generic…

Sticky Fingers

Arboreal escapades July | August 2022
If you own a bike in a city, you know you’re tempting fate when you leave it unattended for a minute without locking it securely. So when you consider the value of all that wood standing unguarded in the wild, it’s no surprise that clandestine loggers are preying on it throughout the United States and…

The Understory

How forests are wired for the future October 2021
Environmentalists have long paid attention to eye-catching creatures that people can easily care about, because championing such animals can help to protect entire ecosystems. Sparing bald eagles from the pesticide DDT — a cause adopted by many readers of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring — benefited countless other organisms, for example. More recently, starving polar bears unable to pack on the pounds during shortened winter hunting seasons have served as one of the most prominent symbols of climate…

Writing into the Sunset

In the saddle with Canadian novelists June 2021
Few distinctions between Canada and the United States seem as profound as those that differentiate the paths taken in settling the western frontier. Our side of the border saw centralized control, early imposition of law and order, and the state’s monopoly of violence; their side witnessed land rushes, gold rushes, vigilantes, range wars, desperadoes, gunmen,…