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From the archives

Operative Words

Behind the campaign curtain

Snuffed Torch

Can the Olympic myth survive?

Lax Americana

What happens if Donald Trump returns to the White House?

Michael Ledger-Lomas

Michael Ledger-Lomas is a historian of religion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and a visiting fellow at King’s College, London.

Articles by
Michael Ledger-Lomas

The Colonist

Richard Blanshard’s brief tenure as governor of Vancouver Island May 2024
Richard Blanshard has left little trace in British Columbia, except for the thoroughfare named after him in Victoria. In March 1850, he arrived in what was then the colony of Vancouver Island as its first governor, but he stuck it out there for only eighteen months, half of which he spent waiting for London to accept his…

For God's Sake

The fight for and against free thought March 2024
Canadians often contrast their secular ways with the strange religious enthusiasms that haunt public life in the United States. In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the shoe was on the other foot. Statesmen here routinely contrasted our God-fearing culture and schools with America’s separation of church and state, which had let unbelief and immorality run…

Doomed Passage

New takes on a lost explorer November 2023
Edwin Landseer’s oil painting Man Proposes, God Disposes (1864) luridly expresses how Sir John Franklin’s contemporaries felt about his doomed expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. Two polar bears hunch in the wreckage of a vessel strewn across the ice. One sinks its teeth into a tattered Red Ensign; the other rises from feeding on a sailor’s whitened rib…

If These Streets Could Talk

Dark days in downtown Vancouver September 2023
One warm Saturday night in September 1907, Vancouver witnessed a riot. A crowd that had gathered for the founding meeting of the Asiatic Exclusion League headed to Chinatown, where hooligans systematically smashed the windows of businesses. The growing mob proceeded to Powell Street, the centre of the city’s Japanese community, where forewarned residents beat them off. The rioters returned on Sunday and were again…

Schools of Thought

Canadian classrooms at cross-purposes June 2023
Egerton Ryerson’s role in the creation of residential schools, however debatable, has prompted his erasure from Canadian public memory. Most dramatically, in June 2021, his statue was toppled and beheaded on the campus that then bore his name; the following year, the institution rebranded itself Toronto Metropolitan University. Yet, as Robert Crocker notes in Religion and Schooling in Canada

Crowning Moment

British Columbia before Canada April 2023
The small town of Lytton, British Columbia, endured the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada during the heat dome of June 2021. The next day, it was largely destroyed by wildfire. Climate activists have since stencilled its name on bridges in Vancouver, along with the question “How do you like the Anthropocene so far?” Lytton may now be shorthand for ecological…

The Cathedrals of Cascadia

Spirituality in the Pacific Northwest March 2023
To visit Stanley Park, the Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson wrote over a century ago in Legends of Vancouver, was to enter an “atmosphere of holiness.” Just as “viewing a stately cathedral” improved us, so “none of us can stand amid that majestic forest group without experiencing some elevating thoughts, some refinement of our coarser nature.” In equating and perhaps conflating the spiritual effects on humans of trees and…