9/11 and the Death of Democracy In Chile

September 11, 2017

On 9/11 in 1973, the US financed and helped plan the military overthrow of the legally elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

Crowds in Santiago celebrating the electoral victory of Salvador Allende

During the 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, several thousand 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 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.


Vancouver’s Race Riots

September 7, 2017

On September 7, 1907, white racists rioted in Vancouver.  They attacked and rampaged through Chinatown, and they attacked and were beaten back from Japantown.  No one died, but only through luck.  The riot was spurred by a march of the Asiatic Exclusion League, a labour union-supported group of racists seeking to exclude all non-white labour from British Columbia.

We can tell ourselves that this was now a hundred and ten years ago. Unfortunately, the riot was only the beginning. Over the next fifteen or so years, these same racists managed to have laws passed that reduced Japanese, Indian and Chinese immigration to a trickle.  They also had Native Canadians moved to reserves, and set up residential schools with their own horrific scandals.  Peaceful law-abiding Japanese-Canadians were moved to internment camps and their homes and business were confiscated. The Chinese Exclusion Act stayed on the books until 1947; and indigenous peoples were not given the vote until as late as 1960.

Canada’s racist past is nowhere near as deep nor as broad as that in many countries, but it does exist, and we will be obliged to repeat our sins if we choose to forget those of our own history.

Updating the Grandview Database

August 30, 2017

For those of you interested in my “day job,” the latest updated edition of the Grandview Database is now available at the Grandview Heritage Group website.

The idea of the database is to capture in one place all the information known about each of the 6,500+ properties that exist, or have existed, in Grandview. This includes building permits, water permits, census data, City Directory information, newspaper reports, real estate listings, auction postings, property tax sheets, and numerous other sources.

There is an extraordinary amount of data available for collection, and the collation of it into property-sized chunks is a labour-intensive process. The database is, at this time, heavily weighted to the earliest years but there is also a significant amount of material already entered from all time periods up to and including the 2000s.

An updated database is released at the beginning of each month and, since its first edition, we have added more than 12,000 data points.  Each release is a pdf file that is fully searchable by full text — so search on an address or a name or anything else you may be interested in.

GHG and I welcome comments, suggestions, additions, and corrections.

“I Have A Dream”

August 28, 2017

Today is the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

While some progress has been made — notably a black President who survived his term — much of this dream has turned into a nightmare, with racist cops killing black men in ever greater numbers and getting away it, with a famously racist cop receiving a Presidential pardon from an openly racist President, with armed Nazis openly parading with swastikas and uniforms.

We have certainly not reached King’s dreamland of equality, but rather we are sliding toward a race war pursued by an all-white far-right mob encouraged by Administration elites. These are sad days.

Remembering Sacco & Vanzetti

August 23, 2017

This is the 90th anniversary of the murder by the State of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for the crime of being anarchists.



“What from the splendid dead
We have inherited –
Furrows sweet to the grain, and the weed subdued –
See now the slug and the mildew plunder.
Evil does not overwhelm
The larkspur and the corn;
We have seen them go under.

Let us sit here, sit still,
Here in the sitting-room until we die;
At the step of Death on the walk, rise and go;
Leaving to our children’s children this beautiful doorway,
And this elm,
And a blighted earth to till
With a broken hoe.”

— Edna St Vincent Millay “Justice Denied in Massachusetts

Lest we forget.

Hiroshima Day

August 6, 2017

Today we need to remember the fate of Hiroshima and its people, utterly destroyed by an atomic bomb on this day 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.

The Grandview Database

May 29, 2017

The Grandview Heritage Group has today published the June 2017 update to their Grandview Database. This now includes, amongst much else, the entire collection of 1911 households as enumerated in the Canada Census of that year (or at least as many as are still readable in the records).

The database is designed to provide a history of every house and household in the core of Grandview, including the nearly 2,000 that have been demolished and/or replaced over time.  It is published in pdf format allowing readers to perform easy searches on addresses, family names, businesses and, indeed, on any text component. The amount of material still to be entered is immense and the database is continually updated and published at the beginning of every month.

If you have a household or a historical connection in Grandview (in the area within the bounds of Clark, Hastings, Nanaimo, and Broadway) take a look at the database and see what we have found for your house.  We eagerly encourage corrections, additions, and suggestions.