Standing on guard in Westminster
January | February 2023
In August 1822, Captain Henry Bayfield, an astute and meticulous surveyor in the service of the Royal Navy, was at work mapping all of Lake Huron, in the course of which useful endeavour the twenty-seven-year-old delineated a kind of sixth “great lake” and christened it Georgian Bay, in honour of the British sovereign, George IV.
At almost the same moment as that vast…
They work their butts off
It is irresponsible and possibly evil, I suppose, to begin reviewing a book that plots the extraordinary if depressing success of big tobacco in circumnavigating all the solemn efforts to eradicate a known addictive killer by extolling the joys of that very addiction. But let’s do it anyway.
Smoking! If you’ve never done it, never gone off it (again and…
In the wake of loss
I may be wrong, but I don’t think most readers will happily pick up a book with a subtitle that promises an account of schizophrenia. Those who have experience with the serious mental disorder might be interested, but, then again, they might not. Those who knew Fraser Sutherland as a poet or an essayist might want to take a…
A challenge to the hallowed halls
As Woodrow Wilson once put it, “Changing a university curriculum is like moving a graveyard. You don’t know how many friends the dead have until you try to move them.” Quoting the former president, of the United States as well as of Princeton University, is a chancy way to open a book on how to change Canadian…
Looking back on China’s future
July | August 2021
Although it seems a good while since Canadians looked upon China benignly, it’s actually not been that long. Until fairly recently, there seemed to be something of a consensus in government, business, and academic circles that Communist Party leaders had miraculously presided over the fate of a billion-plus people by fostering a workable social cohesion and diligently pursuing the admirable…
A family’s postwar trials
January | February 2021
Prisoner-of-war accounts of the Second World War fill a significant number of shelves, with some of the most shocking set in Japanese camps: Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge on the River Kwai, from 1952; Gavan Daws’s Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific, from 1994; Dave McIntosh’s Hell on Earth: Aging …
And Gideon said unto him
The first time I met Rick Salutin, we were both in need of a certain kind of salvation. We are talking about 1990 here, the start of the last decade of the previous century. Bob Rae had recently been elected the first (and still only) New Democratic Party premier of Ontario. The great and the good of the left were in a state of more-than-the-usual…
What comes next for Canada and the Crown
The heirs of King George III have rarely left the script they were bequeathed more than two centuries ago. Because they found themselves encased within a constitution that is almost immutable, they are doomed—again and again—to embrace the absurdity of carrying on like Hanoverian demi-autocrats as the 21st century pushes on, democracy and common sense be…
Ballet’s transcendent form has long been pitted against political intrigue in Russia
When Jack Diamond, the Canadian architect esteemed internationally for his concert halls and opera houses, was chosen to design a new opera house in St. Petersburg in 2009, he did not make too many assumptions about the project. This was wise. His patron for the project was the notoriously aggressive and fickle Valery Gergiev, the legendary head of everything artistic in…
A historic crime unearthed by a master storyteller
A Chinese peasant makes a historic gesture that he knows will bring him grief.
A Hungarian writer trains a piercing eye on Canada and the world.