Skip to content

From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

Tom Jokinen

Tom Jokinen lives and writes in Winnipeg.

Articles by
Tom Jokinen

Sessions Supernatural

The ghosts of Winnipeg in black and white May 2024
There was a time when Winnipeg was the railway hub of Canada, a Chicago North. Trains led commerce east and west and stopped here on the prairie to retool and load up. That’s over. Commerce flies overhead now, and Winnipeg watches the contrails. It’s less known that Winnipeg, in the early twentieth century, was also a hub of psychic…

The Splice of Life

Moviemaking in Winnipeg January | February 2024
The story behind Ed Ackerman and Greg Zbitnew’s short film 5¢ a Copy fairly describes how art comes together in Winnipeg. It’s 1980, and members of the Winnipeg Film Group, an artists’ collective formed in 1974 with a manifesto typical of its era (earnest, vague), decide they’re important enough now to buy a photocopier for the…

Left Behind

Maybe we’re just not that into them April 2023
It’s a curse, but leaders of the New Democratic Party have been moderately likeable. Ed Broadbent was your uncle. He’d wink and tousle your hair. Jack Layton was dynamic, if a bit too downtown. Here was a guy you’d have a beer with — but just the one. Audrey McLaughlin was . . . well, she seemed…

Behind the Second Story

A sequel to a Canadian classic April 2022
Sinclair Ross’s As for Me and My House is a classic. Published in 1941 by the American firm Reynal and Hitchcock, the story follows Philip Bentley, a preacher and a newcomer to the small town of Horizon, and his wife, Mrs. Bentley, who narrates it in the form of a diary. Gloomy and Canadian — insofar as you don’t get a happy…

Something Wicked

The hysteria that gripped November 2021
Six years ago, the English writer Sara Pascoe launched an online petition to clear the name of Anne West, who was hanged for witchcraft in Manningtree, Essex. In the two busy years between 1644 and 1646, West and some 300 other women were tried by the famed witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins (played with camp delight by Vincent Price in a 1968…

Lox and Loaded

Gary Barwin’s latest June 2021
The town of Radebeul, a suburb of Dresden, is perhaps best known as the home of the Karl May Museum. May, who died in 1912, wrote adventure tales of the American West, potboilers about the Apache chief Winnetou and his German friend Old Shatterhand — a kind of Teutonic Lone Ranger. His seventy books have sold over 200 million…

That Nightly Hoots and Wonders

Listening to the natural world April 2021
Each spring, the birds return to nest at Oak Hammock Marsh, twenty kilometres north of Winnipeg. The first Canada goose usually shows up in March (there’s a contest for spotting it) and then thousands follow. They take over the wetlands, pair up, manage their offspring. In the fall, they’re loud and communal, making migration plans. But in the…

The Quiet Canadian

Fictional encounters with Leonard Cohen October 2020
In The Colossus of Maroussi, Henry Miller calls Hydra “aesthetically perfect,” as if it had been designed to inspire artists like him. Generations of poets, painters, and artists of all stripes seem to agree, having gone to the car‑free Greek island to create, and to get in the way of sponge fishers for whom aesthetics are beside the…

When Suppertime Came

We still don’t know why the Fitzgerald went down June 2020
The story of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in a freak storm on Lake Superior in Nov­ember 1975, killing twenty-­nine crew, is legend, thanks in part to a Gordon Lightfoot song that most Canadians over forty can recite from memory. Numerous niche publications have been written about the ship’s fateful…

Bards and Bytes

A future with silicon collaborators March 2020
The Future of Life Institute, a think tank in Boston, predicts that artificial intelligence will write bestsellers by 2050, and we’re already on our way. In 2017, Cheers Publishing in China produced Sunshine Misses Windows, a volume of 139 poems created by a Microsoft chatbot that mimics human conversation, or tries to. In…

Creature Feature

Bigfoot doesn’t always leave tracks January | February 2020
South of Port Kirwan, on Newfoundland’s Irish Shore, along the dirt road east of Renews, is the former lighthouse at Bear Cove Point. My friend Ray grew up here. His father ran the lighthouse, as did his grandfather a generation before. The coast is treacherous, but then so are the woods inland. There are rumours. When Ray and I hiked the cove twenty-five years…

Oil and Holy Water

Bearing the cross of a natural resource December 2019
If, as Alberta premier Ernest Manning believed, the bitumen locked in the Athabasca oil sands was a gift from God, then God would find a way to get it out, using all the tools He had to hand. Hence Project Cauldron, the 1958 plan in which a nine-kiloton nuclear weapon would be detonated somewhere under Pony…

Boredom as a Political Weapon

Saul Bellow fought banality—and taught us to look hard at the world December 2018
Only one Saul Bellow novel has ever been filmed: Seize the Day, with Robin Williams, which Bellow himself co-wrote, and hated. The others are impossible to imagine as movies. Think of Herzog, the main action of which is a man thinking about writing letters (which are never sent) to friends and…