Congratulations are due to the winners of the major literary prizes of the season. Not only will their publishers sell copies – increases from the thousands to the, well, dozens, depending on the genre – but their names will circulate more freely in the public sphere, their reputations increase substantially, and so they will find and delight more readers. We readers are, ultimately, the beneficiaries of these prizes when we find a new author to love, when we are introduced to a new genre we may investigate and savour for decades to come, when we introduce other readers in turn to books that please them.
Jack Ford was a Canadian photographer during the Second World War for RCAF Squadron 414. While advancing across Western Europe, he took thousands of photographs, including Winston Churchill (with his proverbial cigar), King George VI, Nazi planes, and prisoners of war. He also captured glimmers of humanity: in one photo, a Canadian soldier dressed as Santa Claus helps a child drink from a teacup.
Canadian literature has long had a thematic interest in the uncanny, the strange, the frightening, the unknown. From the magical and sometimes terrifying inhabitants of First Nations myths and legends, to the paranoiac claustrophobia imbuing early literature, identified by Northrop Frye as the “garrison mentality,” to the continued dread within contemporary literature of the myriad options for death and damage both Canadian wilderness and urban jungle afford, Canadian literary output can seem fixated on terror. And it’s certainly not the only artistic medium with such a focus – the Canadian film world has David Cronenberg, of course, and a new film festival called Blood in the Snow. Read More
[Editor’s Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its second free app, Toronto in Time, highlighting the stories of the city. “Marilyn Bell Swims Lake Ontario” is one of over 160 unique stories in the app, available for iOS and Android.]
Marilyn Bell waded into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario at Youngstown, NY, at 11:07 p.m. September 8, 1954. It wasn’t supposed to be a race, but she made it into one. The Canadian National Exhibition had offered $10,000 to American swimmer Florence Chadwick to swim the lake. Many thought it was unfair not to include Canadians in the event. Only two others took up the challenge, Winnie Roach Leuszla and 16-year old Marilyn Bell.
[Editor’s Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its second free app, Toronto in Time, highlighting the stories of the city. “Murdered Keeper Haunts Lighthouse” is one of over 160 unique stories in the app, available for iOS and Android.]
Legend has it that on the night of January 2, 1815, soldiers from Fort York went to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse to buy beer smuggled from the US by the lighthouse keeper. But the keeper refused to sell, and the furious soldiers chopped him to pieces with an axe and buried the grisly bits to hide their crime. For two centuries, the keeper’s poor spirit has roamed the lighthouse.
There’s truth behind the tale. The lighthouse’s first keeper, J.P. Rademuller, mysteriously disappeared in 1815, and part of a human skeleton was later found nearby. But no soldiers were ever convicted, and the family that tended the lighthouse for 150 years declared as late as 1958 that they had never seen a ghost.
The new Heritage Minute tells the story of Richard Pierpoint, a black Loyalist and hero during the War of 1812.
It’s that time of year again: autumn is upon us, with the tang of decay in the air and the scent of paper burning in the woodstove. And paper, bound into books and printed in interesting and artisanal fonts, is the order of the day for lovers of Canadian literature in autumn. Forthwith: the shortlisted nominees for the three principal English-language fiction prizes of the season, for your readerly delectation, and possibly a quick trip to the local bookmaker on the corner.
After the film Argo had its world premiere at the Toronto International Festival in September, friends of Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, criticized it for minimizing Canada’s role in the real-life events that inspired the film. Critics say that the film suggests that the CIA were the real heroes of the rescue mission and that for political reasons, Canada took the credit. It also paid short shrift to Taylor’s role as the mastermind of the operation.