Five Hundred Years Ago ….

September 20, 2019

…today, Ferdinand Magellan, in command of 5 ships and 270 men, sailed from Spain and headed west. The plan was to reach the Pacific spice islands and thus thwart the Portuguese who controlled the eastern routes to southern Asia.

Since the end of this voyage, almost three years later, Magellan has been credited with the first complete circumnavigation of the globe. However, it needs to be remembered that he himself died along the way in a battle in the Philippines when a group of islanders objected to his attempts to convert them to Christianity.

Just one of his ships and barely 20 crewmen eventually made it back to Spain in April 1521. The captain of this ship, Juan Sebastian Elcano, is barely remembered.


9/11 and the Death of Democracy

September 11, 2019

Forty-six years ago, on 9/11 in 1973, the US-financed-and-organised plan to overthrow the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was put into action.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the violent military assault, the President died (assassinated or committed suicide to avoid capture) and over the next few years of the vicious and inhuman dictatorship of US-supported Pinochet, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.



What happened in New York on this day 28 years later was also vicious and inhuman. However, it is about time for some reconciliation and regret for the extraordinary litany of war crimes the US has committed. If any US network or major media even mentions the Chilean anniversary during what will almost certainly be today’s spasm of Trump-like breast-beating, that would be a tiny start.

Seventy Years On, Television Revealed As Evil

September 10, 2019

As we approach the start of the Fall season on North American TV, I am reminded of an editorial in the Highland Echo, Commercial Drive’s local paper, that took a prescient view of television.  They described it as:

just one more of the influences currently being brought to bear on the American people to render them incapable of independent thought and independent decisions.”

Not much to add to that really.

The date of the editorial?  30th November, 1950.

Grandview’s Ghosts

September 5, 2019

James Johnstone, one of the finest urban historians working in Vancouver today, has linked up with paranormal investigator Kati Ackerman to present an interesting take on a history walk this coming weekend. The following is from the relevant Meetup site:

“If you are have an interest in Vancouver’s history and/or spirits and exploring the world of the paranormal, then this Special Photo Walk of Vancouver’s hippest, historic and most likely haunted neighbourhood is for you. There will be dozens and dozens of wonderful photo opportunities. James will explain the history of what we see and Kati will share with us about whom she sees and what she hears from the spirits along the way ……. Let’s see which houses, old churches and other buildings along the way are haunted. And who knows? ……… Maybe your camera will catch a ghost!”

The walk begins at 10:00am on Sunday, September 8th, and will last about two and a half hours.  More details at Meetup.

Remembering Hiroshima

August 6, 2019

Today we need to remember the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their people, utterly destroyed by atomic bombs this week in 1945.

I spent my early life in Europe during the hottest days of the Cold War, worried every single day that these scenes would be repeated in London and Berlin and Moscow. Those concerns abated with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and for 25 years many of us breathed a lot easier. Today, with a US leader seeming to need a war to save his tottering presidency, I have begun to worry once again even as I sit here in beautiful British Columbia.

Let us continue to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and do whatever we can to ensure that such events never happen again.

Yet More Work

July 26, 2019

The third of my visualisations of 1911 and 1921 Census data for Grandview has now been published at the GHG website.

This one looks at the rental market in our neighbourhood in 1921.

If you are interested in the history of Grandview, please take a look,  Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.


[update:  bad link fixed]

More about Work

July 22, 2019

I have today published a geographic analysis of the 1911 Census for Grandview, along with a map showing the distribution of population change in the district between 1911 and 1921.

For those interested in our local history, please visit the Grandview Heritage website.