Gil Courtemanche n’est plus. Le journaliste, homme en colère aux mots acerbes, bien ciblés et toujours justes, l’essayiste brillant, l’écrivain un peu étonné de cette plume qui l’a tranquillement et un peu tard amené vers le succès, l’homme apeuré et malade s’est éteint dans la nuit du 18 août 2011.
Ses reportages toujours sensibles, toujours teintés d’une saine colère nous ont fait découvrir toutes les misères de ce monde, qu’il semblait avoir côtoyées dans une grande humilité. On pense aux émissions Enjeux, Contact, Télémag et Le Point. Mais ce sont surtout ses romans qui nous offrent une sensibilité d’homme à fleur de peau, cette peur/haine de la solitude et de la mort, cet état d’abandon dans lequel l’aura laissé une dernière rupture amoureuse et la maladie.
On pourra relire ses chroniques du Devoir et ses romans – Un dimanche à la piscine à Kigali, écrit justement assis au bar de Mille collines, Une belle mort, Douces colères, Je ne veux pas mourir seul – avec un regard nouveau, teinté d’une tristesse ajoutée.
Pour en savoir plus visitez l’Encyclopédie canadienne
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Except the Dying, Maureen Jenning's first book in the Detective Murdoch series.
Summer reading: the words conjure warm wind and sun and hours of leisure time. In most parts of the country these have been in short supply this season. What to read when the precious conjunction of time and weather appears? I tend, perversely, to turn to reading material that features chill, darkness and murder. I know I’m far from alone in this.
One of my favourites is Maureen Jennings, whose mysteries set in Victorian Toronto, featuring the charming Murdoch, have been turned into one of Canada’s favourite television series. Our Prime Minister has even made an appearance onscreen within it. The books are, of course, even better, making Toronto’s earlier existence breathe with camaraderie and excitement, sadness and menace.
Our friend and contributor to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Alan Whitehorn of the Royal Military College of Canada, explains the significance of Jack Layton’s legacy and the unique role of the New Democratic Party in Canada on Radio Canada International. Some highlights:
On le connaissait du nom de son prénom, privilège rarement, sinon jamais accordé par les Québécois aux politiciens. Jack avait touché nos cœurs et balayé notre scène politique d’un vent nouveau. Son sourire, son entrain, son humeur un peu coquine quand il le fallait, nous avait conquis. Ses valeurs sociales avaient su nous interpeller dans ce profond désir de changement qui nous secouait.
On y croyait et on l’aimait. Gars du Québec, on aimait son franc-parler et sa manière de parler français. Son accent coloré, teinté de son rire si sincère nous manquera.
C’est avec une profonde tristesse devant cette joie de vivre éteinte à jamais que nous te disons, adieu Jack.
On August 22, 2011, Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democrats, died after a brief and aggressive battle with an unnamed cancer. He was 61. Just months before, he led his party to unprecedented electoral success, becoming the Official Opposition in this year’s federal election in his last amazing race.
The Honourable Jack Layton, who was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (courtesy NDP).
Everything about Jack Layton’s rally at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre, the biggest campaign event ever staged by the NDP in Quebec, had a sort of retro flair. There was the 1925 theatre itself, with its rococo red-and-gold plaster details. There was the lead-on band, the aptly named Quebec group Tracteur Jack, which played hopped-up swing. When Layton made his grand entrance, wading through a roaring crowd of more than 1,200, jauntily wielding the wooden cane he carries after hip surgery, he leapt to the podium like a barnstorming politician of old. Now that he’s 60, that signature moustache, which once recalled the disco era, looks more like a tribute to his social-democratic forebears. Some of his applause lines have a time-honoured left-wing ring, too. “A prime minister’s job,” he declares to cheers, “is to make sure the government works for those who have elected him, and not for big corporations.”
On August 22, 1964, The Beatles played their first Canadian concert in Vancouver to a packed crowd of 20,621 screaming fans. Pandemonium ensued: fans rushed the stage, security ran amok, and several girls were trampled. Jeanie Jones, 12-years-old at the time, remembers chasing The Beatles’ limo, catching a smile from Paul McCartney, and the injured teenaged girls being wrapped up by nurses.
Everyone has heard about the girls who screamed, cried, fainted, and vomited when the Beatles came to Vancouver. There are interview transcripts, videos, and photographs of the Fab Four’s visit. But a little known fact is that security had planted a rumor that The Beatles would not be travelling by car to Empire Stadium, but would instead land near the stage via helicopter! Everyone believed it, including my friend Barb and I (both of us 12, going into grade 8), who had pleaded with our parents until they caved in and let us buy tickets to the concert. I remember that our tickets were $15.00, close to the front, and in Section Q.
A ticket to The Beatles' 1964 show in Vancouver
At 0523 hours, August 19, 1942, Captain Denis Whitaker and the men of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry listened as the hull of their flat-bottomed landing craft grated on the stone shingle of the broad beach fronting the French town of Dieppe. As the rising sun broke the horizon and revealed the outline of the town, Whitaker and his men peered over the ramp of the landing boat. They expected to see a town shattered by RAF bombs and Royal Navy shells, but to their shock they could see that even the storefront windowpanes were unbroken. Suddenly a hail of machine gun bullets peppered the side of the landing craft.
The Air Command crest
The intention of the Government of Canada in its August 2011 re-designation of three components of the Canadian Forces, namely Maritime Command, Land Force Command and Air Command as the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force has been met with praise and derision by civilians and armed forces personnel alike. The government contends the restoration of these historical names is important to our heritage and is necessary to improve pride in the armed forces. Critics harp on several themes, including the expense of the name changes and more fundamentally, the nature of our constitutional monarchy.
The Historica-Dominion Institute
‘s new website, Sir. John A. Day
, (or as we like to say, “Sir John Eh! Day”) brings the country’s first Prime Minister to life with videos, a timeline, teacher and student resources, and a printable party hat. Rendered in cartoon form with waggling eyebrows (mouse-over Sir John’s face), the “old chieftan” has never looked more approachable!
From John A. Day:
Canada’s first Prime Minister. A dreamer. A Father of Confederation. Sir John A. Macdonald’s accomplishments gave birth to a nation, but the life story of Canada’s first prime minister is not so very different from the story of thousands of immigrants who have come to Canada since that nation began.
The eldest son of working class Scottish immigrants, John A. Macdonald worked his way to political success, in the face of great personal tragedy. Fuelled by his determination to succeed, Sir John A. completed his law degree and was elected to the provincial legislature, where his political career took off. A visionary and an idealist, Sir John A. Macdonald championed the cause of Confederation, as he fought for and realized his dream of a Canadian nation that spanned sea to sea.Despite his critical role in Canadian history, many Canadians know very little about Sir John A. Macdonald’s life and accomplishments.
The Sir John A. Macdonald Project would like to see this change. We’re excited to get teachers and students across the country making history as they celebrate Canadian history on January 11, 2012. Visit our sign up page to join in the celebration!
Read up on the Fathers of Confederation and Sir John A. MacDonald at The Canadian Encyclopedia.
We’ve just discovered the website, From C to C: Chinese Canadian Stories of Migration, replete with interviews, primary documents and a nifty, moving timeline of the Chinese Canadian experience, from migration to exclusion to integration. The website, in support of an upcoming documentary on the Chinese Exclusion Act, is a feast for the historically inclined.
In the clip above, Bill Wong of Modernize Tailors in Vancouver’s Chinatown (est. 1913) recalls a poem that his father taught him: In front of the bed, moonlight shines / A suspicion of frost on the ground / Head raised, look at the shining moon / Head bowed, in memory of the ancestral village
Check out From C to C and visit Asia Canada for a history of the Asian Canadian experience.
Peterson's approach to jazz is full-blown and joyous (courtesy Regal Recording Ltd).
Oscar Peterson, acclaimed jazz pianist, dubbed the “Maharaja of the keyboard” by Duke Ellington, would have been 86 today. Peterson dazzled the world with his musical virtuosity, inspired improvisations, and the dexterity and power of his fluid moving hands.
Born into the tough St-Henri district of Montreal to a family of five children, Peterson began playing trumpet at age five. At age eight, after a long battle with tuberculosis, he set aside his trumpet to focus on the piano. Peterson won his first piano prize at a CBC radio talent show when he was just 15, which lead to a string of radio and concert performances until he got his big break at Carnegie Hall in 1949. According to a report in Down Beat magazine, so dazzling was Peterson’s performance that it “stopped the concert dead cold in its tracks.” International renown and a rich and storied career followed.
During the Second World War, German prisoners of war were shipped from England to a Manitoba logging camp where they led an idyllic life away from the war. The findings of a three-year archeological dig in Riding Mountain National Park reveal that the PoWs purchased mail-order items from the Eaton’s catalogue, kept themselves impeccably groomed, attended barn dances, and temporarily escaped into the nearby countryside.
This was far from unusual as the British farmed out tens of thousands of PoWs to its allies and former colonies. Of the PoW’s life in Manitoba, Adrian Myers, the PhD student leading the archeological project, said: “We do know that the prisoners on the whole were delighted to be captured as PoWs and brought to Canada, taken out of brutal conditions and brought to a paradise compared to where they’d been before.”
In addition to plates, cutlery, tin cans and bottles, archeologists have found some items that would seem out of place in a wilderness PoW camp. Said Myers, ”Were finding large volumes of personal grooming products. So it appears they were really taking care of how they looked and how they smelled. We’ve got toothbrushes, combs, face cream, we’ve got cologne, aftershave, razors, all these kinds of things.”
Read the full story at CTV.ca
For more on prisoners of war, visit The Canadian Encyclopedia.
A giant in Quebec’s chanson tradition, Félix Leclerc became a musical icon of modern Francophone culture in Canada from the 40s all the way to the 70s. His simple folk melodies, poetic with deep philosophical meaning, galvanized chansonniers and revitalized the chanson in France. His singular qualities were said to have provided a catalyst for the careers of Georges Brassens, Guy Béart, and Jacques Brel among others.
At 18, Félix wrote his first song, “Notre Sentier,” which has, after all these years, remained a beloved classic. Other favourites include “Le P’tit Bonheur,” “Le Train du Nord,” and “Bozo.” He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1968, a Grand Officier of the Ordre national du Quebec in 1983, and a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in 1986.
Read more about Félix Leclerc at The Canadian Encyclopedia and enjoy Leclerc’s lovely and mournful, “Notre Sentier,” penned at the age of 18:
The HMCS Oriole
Today I meandered down to the Richmond Maritime Festival in Steveston, a historic salmon canning village south of Vancouver, B.C. For me the festival’s main attractions were the wooden boats moored along the Britannia Heritage Shipyard, a collection of rustic buildings that were part of Steveston’s once thriving boat building industry.
It was fun to visit the venerable old S.S. Master, a 26-metre refurbished tugboat constructed in 1922 by Arthur Moscrop, who also built the RCMP’s famed St Roch. This remarkable vessel is the sole survivor of a sizeable fleet of wooden hulled, steam powered towboats on the West Coast. It could often be seen towing barges of coal and rafts of logs in the waters off Vancouver when its waterfront was a thriving industrial hub.