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From the archives

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

The Melmac Years

My peculiar resin d’être

Michael Taube

Michael Taube was a speech writer for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Articles by
Michael Taube

The Breakup

When the waters rose in Moose Factory July | August 2024
Charles Bayly, the first Hudson’s Bay Company overseas governor, founded what was originally called Moose Fort in 1673. The second North American trading post set up by the HBC, after Fort Rupert in northern Quebec, and later renamed Moose Factory, it is the oldest English settlement in what became Ontario. Several historical buildings are still…

Black Boys of Summer

On the field and in the history books November 2023
When the popular video game MLB The Show 22 came out last year, it featured a new addition to the lineup: the 1934 Chatham Coloured All‑Stars, the first all-Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Amateur Association championship. To help promote the virtual ­players — including the likes of Don Tabron, Cliff Olbey, Hyle…

His Truck Stops Here

The quick end to Jason Kenney’s long career September 2023
Earlier this year, Danielle Smith’s United Conservatives and Rachel Notley’s New Democrats waged an election battle for the ages. Throughout the spring campaign, each party led in polls at different stages — and sometimes split them during the same week. Both leaders struggled at times to connect with voters and apologized for past political mistakes and…

Vintage Years

Two political memoirs March 2023
When it comes to wines, there are almost endless varieties. The same can be said of politicians. A few become prime ministers, while others end up as one-term members of Parliament. Several are elected as party leaders, while many more sit as backbenchers. Some of them become respected federal cabinet ministers, while others relish their work at the…


Investigating a curious figure September 2022
I have long been enamoured of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson. A vocation in which one could use intelligence, reasoning, logic, and the art of disguise to solve perplexing mysteries and earn a living — it has always seemed to me like a dream. “It is an old maxim of mine,” the famous sleuth says in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Fifth

From printer’s devil to prime minister April 2022
Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, died in office on June 6, 1891. What followed was the most unusual ­period of political succession in the country’s history: four Conservative ­leaders — Sir John Abbott, Sir John Thompson, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, and Sir Charles Tupper — each had a short term as prime minister. Abbott retired due to poor health in 1892 and died a year…

Rock Star

As Smallwood took the stage November 2021
We tend to define Joseph Roberts “Joey” Smallwood by two roles: as the first premier of Newfoundland and as the self-described last father of Confederation. And it’s true the “little fellow from Gambo,” who measured five feet five inches, was a political firebrand of the highest order. Few Canadian politicians have matched Smallwood’s fiery rhetoric, perpetual…

Do You Have an Appointment?

Inside the public service May 2021
In the eyes of many, the amusing Sir Humphrey Appleby, portrayed by Nigel Hawthorne in the BBC series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, represents the quintessential public servant: cool, calm, and firmly in control. But how does a smug deputy minister — the one who knows where all the political bodies are buried — actually come to have a job in the first…

A Sultan’s Education

Babe Ruth before pinstripes September 2020
On September 5, 1914, George Herman Ruth Jr. hit the first home run of his career, at Hanlan’s Point Stadium. On the Toronto Islands that day, in a large concrete and steel ballpark, the nineteen-­year-old pitched the first game of an International League doubleheader for the Providence Grays against the local Maple Leafs. Memorably described as a “youthful southside phenom” by the Toronto Daily Star

The Human Factor

At the beginning of Canada’s oldest company April 2020
When customers walk into a Hudson’s Bay department store — there are just over ninety of them across Canada — do they know much about its parent company? Sure, they’re probably aware that the Bay has been around a long time, that it proudly sponsors the Canadian Olympic team, and that it may soon end up in the hands of an American owner…

Taking Refuge

Nineteenth-century Americans look north May 2019
In August 1840, Ellis Gray Loring, an anti-­slavery lawyer in Boston, sent a letter to his friend Reverend Hiram Wilson, of Toronto. He mentioned a lecturer named Fred, an ex-slave who had escaped “two years ago” from his owner, Thomas Auld. Loring suggested this lecturer’s powerful oratorial abilities could “produce great effect,” and that Wilson should consider buying his…

Money Matters

Canadians and Americans bank on high finance in different ways December 2018
Having been born into a family with a near-century’s worth of expertise in real estate, mortgages, and investments, my interest in high finance is only natural. But even for the layperson, the history of money, banks, and financial institutions is multi-layered and intrinsically fascinating. It stands out because of its cast of actors—economic wizards, free…

Jean Chrétien: Fox or Snake

Bob Plamondon's Chrétien: The little guy from Shawinigan was Canada’s most fiscally conservative PM? January 2018
Two of the more intriguing animal ​protagonists in literature are the fox and snake. In Aesop’s fables, they’re often depicted as intelligent, devious, and crafty. In contrast, the National Film Board’s puppet film The Man, the Snake and the Fox (1978), based on an Ojibwa legend, depicts a heroic, intelligent fox outwitting a…

The House That Bill Built

The enduring legacy of the Conservative who really wasn’t December 2016
For those who remember his time as premier, either vividly or loosely, William Grenville “Bill” Davis remains a unique political figure. A left-leaning Red Tory in Ontario’s Big Blue Machine, the former premier—his tenure (1971 to 1985) was the second longest in the province’s history—is certainly out of step with modern conservative thinking. He is an Edmund Burke or Benjamin Disraeli in a political world of William…

Bunker Boys

How Dalton Camp and Norman Atkins changed Canadian politics forever. December 2015
There was a time, not too long ago, when Ontario’s Progressive Conservative political strategists liberally used the term “big blue machine” to describe themselves. During the era of Premier Bill Davis, experienced backroom boys such as Dalton Camp and Norman Atkins were skilled political operators with sharp wits and keen minds. They kept their boss high in the polls and popular with the Ontario…

Ice Maiden Extraordinaire

A forgotten Canadian superhero returns January–February 2015
Some Canadians are aware of the fact that artists from this country have long played a significant role in the growth and development of the U.S.-dominated comic book industry. Toronto-born Joe Shuster, along with Jerry Siegel, created one of DC Comics’ greatest superheroes, Superman. Marvel Comics gave us not only the popular and incredibly complex Canadian superhero…

Together Again

A new book analyzes the diverse roots of the reborn Conservative Party April 2014
Canadian conservatism, like most other political philosophies, contains different ideological components under its lofty umbrella: left-leaning Red Toryism, right-leaning Blue Toryism, fiscal conservatism and social conservatism. Throw in some fairly like-minded ideologies like libertarianism and classical liberalism, and you have a big political tent to contend with. That is nothing compared to what Canadian conservatives once…

A Neglected Royal

The Edward of Prince Edward Island finally gets his due July–August 2013
History has a tendency to surprise even the most astute observers and experts. Ludwig van Beethoven might have been working on a tenth symphony, based on the controversial weaving of sketches by musicologist Barry Cooper. Two University of Mississippi Medical Center colleagues, Ranjan Batra and Ken Sullivan, discovered their state had never officially notified the United States archivist that it had ratified the 13th amendment to abolish…

Buying up the Free Press

In the Canadian media, a shared owner doesn't necessarily mean shared opinions July–August 2012
In 2000, Canwest Global Communications Corp. paid $3.2 billion to acquire the bulk of Hollinger International’s extensive chain of newspapers and 50 percent of the National Post. The sale of a major news corporation from a press baron (Conrad Black) to a media giant (Izzy Asper and his family) captured both domestic and international media…