Category Archives: Masters2017_2

25 years of NAFTA


This year marks the 25th anniversary of when Canada, Mexico and the United States gathered to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—a policy that allowed the three countries to increase the movement of imports and exports between their borders by limiting tariffs.

In the fall of 1992, the leaders of the signatory nations addressed the press as they stood side-by-side each behind their own podium. The outdoor ceremony took place in San Antonio, Texas. It marked the symbolic agreement between the nations before their respective governments would go on to pass formal legislation enacting the largest free trade agreement at the time.

Before NAFTA, the nation’s free trade agreement with the U.S. had only been in place since 1989. Canada was experiencing tough economic times under this policy so the public was weary of expanding the trade agreement to include Mexico.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney can be found in archival CBC footage saying, “…everyone said you can’t sell free trade to the Canadian people. No? You just watch and see.” His defensive attitude reflects the mounting disapproval his leadership was facing.
NAFTA deal reached in 1992, CBC Archival Footage

The Canadian think tank, Centre for International Governance Innovation analyzed the last couple decades of NAFTA in a report written by Hugo Perezcano, a legal expert in international trade and negotiations. He says each country’s goal was to generate economic growth by increasing the flow of trade and investment. Meanwhile, Canada’s specific goal was to improve its pre-existing trade deal with the U.S. by gaining direct access to the Mexican market.

Experts like Perezcano say there’s no doubt Canada achieved its goal of increasing trade and investment flows. According to the 2015 report, imports into Mexico increased almost 407 per cent, going from $78.2 billion to $396.5 billion.

Mulroney credits the two trade agreements ushered in by his government for “much of the prosperity and many of the jobs Canada has enjoyed over the last 25 years.” In a video posted last February from FarmTech, an annual farming conference held in Edmonton, the former Conservative Party leader continued by saying, “it’s been the foundational policy of Canada’s economy and it has reoriented the economy internationally.”

Mulroney being interviewed at FarmTech, February 2017

His present-day sentiments can amount to a political “I told you so.” During his time as leader he was unable to gain public after the massive failure of the Charlottetown accord in the summer of 1992. A few months after the San Antonio ceremony that fall, a Gallup poll revealed that a combined 43 per cent of Canadians felt he was either the worst or one of the worst prime ministers. Eventually, he’d step down as leader before the next election took place.

Although NAFTA has seen success, the government lists “increased border security and delays at the border as one of the most challenging aspects of Canadian trade policy” in a preliminary trade and economic analysis report. The challenges of border security are echoed in Perezcano’s report.

The current issue facing NAFTA members is how they will move beyond their 1994 deal to accommodate their modern challenges. While Perezcano’s report details the extensive gains each country has made it also points out the 25-year-old agreement is due for an update.

U.S. president Donald Trump has raised eyebrows and speculation by his advocacy of NAFTA renegotiations. It’s unclear what terms he is trying to change. However, considering his hostility with the Mexican president it’s unlikely that all three leaders will be found standing side-by-side at a podium in celebration anytime soon.

Documentation Notes:
-This is the report on NAFTA by the Centre for International Governance Innovation. I found it on the organization’s website. It’s where I drew the information for most of my expert analysis and stats.

-This is a report by the government of Canada. I found it through as an archived site through a google search. It provided information on how tightening U.S. border security was negatively effecting the Canadian economy.

-This archival CBC news coverage of NAFTA from 1992 helped form an understanding of how Canadians viewed NAFTA at the time. It also provided the context for Mulroney’s defensiveness on gaining public support. I found it on the web through a google video search of NAFTA 1992.
-This video of the ceremony celebrating the NAFTA agreement provided the context for the anniversary portion of the article. I found it on the web through a google video search of NAFTA 1992.

-This current CBC current affairs coverage helped provide a Canadian perspective on Trump’s comments regarding NAFTA. I found it on YouTube through a search on NAFTA.

FarmTech-Canada’s premier crop production and farm management conference. Jan 31-Feb 2 in Edmonton, Alberta:  –

-This video helped me get this clip on Mulroney’s current perspective on NAFTA. It’s from a farming conference that took place earlier this year I found it on the web through a YouTube search of Mulroney 2017.
“Free trade agreements have been responsible for much of prosperity and many of the jobs Canada has enjoyed over the last 25 years. It’s been the foundational policy of Canada’s economy and it has reoriented the economy internationally.”- Brian Mulroney

The legacy of the 1967 Omnibus Bill and those still waiting for “an act of recognition.”

Pierre Elliott Trudeau speaking to the press after Bill C-195 is tabled. Photo courtesy of the CBC Archives.

Fifty years ago, it was a bold statement. Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared publicly that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” As Minister of Justice, Trudeau introduced The Criminal Law Amendment Act or C-195 on December 21st, 1967. The omnibus bill proposed controversial reforms to the Criminal Code including the decriminalization of homosexuality and the legalization of abortion under certain conditions.

Days before Trudeau tabled the bill, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson tendered his resignation and Cabinet Members questioned the bill’s language, suggesting it be pushed to later session. Trudeau urged them to proceed with the reforms, regardless of timing or politics: “If the government was prepared to deal with abortion, it might just as well deal with gross indecency as well.”

(Please click the link below to view some Cabinet Conclusions from December 19th, 1967.)

The Minister of Justice Pierre Elliott Trudeau speaks to the proposed Criminal Code reforms and the inclusion of "gross indecency" with fellow Cabinet Members. Source: Library and Archives Canada

The legislation was amended and passed as Bill C-150 when Trudeau was prime minister.

Rebecca Bromwich is a lawyer and a professor at Carleton University. Bromwich describes the legislation as a “watershed” event in Canadian criminal law which allowed for further legal reforms and for the development of a more accepting society.

“People have called it the “Bedroom Bill” because it moved criminal law out of a kind of moralizing of people’s sexuality into a very kind of different perspective on what types of conduct should be criminal,” Bromwich says. “And so it decriminalized homosexuality. And at the time, there were people in penitentiaries serving time for same-sex, sexual conduct.”

(Please click the link below to see the introduction of Bill C-195 to the House on December 21st, 1967.)

As introduced by the Minister of Justice Pierre Elliott Trudeau on December 21st, 1967.

Bromwich explains that the charge of “gross indecency” criminalized consensual sexual contact. At the time, she says there was no recognition of same-sex sexual contact and no distinction between assaultive and consensual sexual contact in this area of law.

“It was all an abomination. It was all criminal,” Bromwich says.

The last person to be criminally convicted for homosexual acts was Everett Klippert. Prior to the reforms, Klippert was incarcerated twice on dozens of charges of gross indecency in the 1960s. Following his last conviction, he filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on the charge of “dangerous sexual offender.”

After the application to appeal was granted, lawyer Brian Crane received a request to assist Klippert. Crane drafted a factum and appeared before the Supreme Court, arguing Klippert’s case briefly in the early stage of his appeal.

“It was a question of whether the law was appropriate. And that was the issue – a pretty simple issue,” Crane says.

In November 1967, Klippert lost the appeal at the Supreme Court in a 3-2 ruling. The dissenting justices wrote reasons “indicating the unsatisfactory state of the law,” Crane remembers. He also recalls the case being cited in the House by different parliamentarians. Crane describes Klippert’s case as having a “significant effect” on the Liberal omnibus bill.

“It became a matter of public attention and it certainly was one of the factors, if not the major factor, in having that legislation come forward.” Crane says.

Decades later, with a second Prime Minister Trudeau in office, the question of legal legacy arises. In November, the government announced the repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code – a law widely-held as discriminatory to homosexual Canadians. This week, they announced further revisions with the removal of “zombie laws” on abortion and other areas.

But the legal history raises another concern for Klippert’s lawyer. Crane asks about a general pardon for those like Klippert, convicted of similar crimes.

“It’s righting a historical wrong,” Crane says. “And I think from the gay rights perspective it would be, would be certainly, important and useful and I imagine would get unanimous consent in the House.”

In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced its recommendation for Klippert’s posthumous pardon but it has yet to be granted.

“To have a pardon – it’s an important historical act, I would think. An act of recognition,” Crane says.

Brian Crane is a partner at the Gowling WLG law firm in Ottawa.


Documentation Notes for the Instructors:

Document 1
What is the documentation?
The debates or Hansard from the House of Commons on December 21st, 1967.

How did you find/obtain it?
After looking through different government archives online, I reached out to a source at the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery. The source was able to locate the Hansard and send me a copy. We verified the copyright conclusions prior to posting online.

Why was the documentation helpful?
It was helpful though the tabling of C-195 was succinct. It was my assumption that lengthier debate ensued after the Minister of Justice Pierre Trudeau tabled the bill on the floor; however, it went to committee it seems. The bill was amended (to C-150) over several parliamentary sessions and years, therefore there was much documentation to sift through ultimately. This was a useful perspective for the initial C-195 tabling.

Document 2
What is the documentation?
A selection of Cabinet Conclusions from December 19th, 1967 which notes discussion on the Criminal Code reforms.

How did you find/obtain it?
I accessed it through different searches on the Library and Archives Canada website.

Why was the documentation helpful?
It was very helpful. There were numerous Cabinet Conclusions from the week before the bill was tabled that were incredibly interesting. The internal politics at the end of that particular session appeared tenuous – not to mention the wider societal political context. Specifically, the documentation helped me to better understand the discussion around the bill’s language and timing. It also re-inforced the idea that Minister of Justice Trudeau was adamant about the bill’s tabling at the end of 1967.

Additional Documents
I also included hyperlinks to the Klippert Supreme Court Case in 1967 and to Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s 1967 comments to the media for added reference.

Veterans interned: What Canada did to the Japanese-Canadian soldiers of the First World War


There are some moments in Canadian history that are unforgettable. And then there are others Canada seems eager to forget.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a triumph for Canadian troops in the Second World War. One of these troops was Zennosuke Inouye, who fought in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force for the escarpment in Vimy.

Inouye served in the Canadian military despite the racism Japanese Canadians were subjected to. Archives Canada: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4703 – 5.

Originally, Inouye was not allowed to serve in the war. Linda Kawamoto Reid, an archivist for the Nikkei Place, says this stemmed from a distrust of Japanese Canadians.

“There was this ‘how could you trust a Jap working beside you?’ mentality,” she says in a phone interview.

Despite the conscription laws of the time, Inouye was rejected by the Dominion military authorities in British Columbia because he was of Japanese descent, according to an article in The Canadian Historical Review. Determined to serve his country, he and 222 other Japanese Canadians enlisted in Alberta.

In April 1917, Inouye had just fended off trench fever and was previously wounded in the Battle of the Somme. At Vimy, his upper arm was torn apart by shrapnel, and he spent almost two months in the war hospital in Bristol. When he arrived back home in Canada, he purchased land near Surrey, B.C. to start a fruit farm for him and his family.

Inouye’s casualty form shows when he arrived in France to serve. Archives Canada: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4703 – 5.
Page 2 of Inouye’s casualty form. Form that he was wounded once, and that he sustained a gun shot wound (GSW). Archives Canada: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4703 – 5.

History professor Peter Neary of the University of Western Ontario writes, “He was loyal to his family and to his adopted country. In the case of the second loyalty, he now had a scar on his arm to prove it. This was a badge of honour that gave him a new identity as a Canadian.”

On the third anniversary of Vimy Ridge, Japanese-Canadian veterans were honoured with the erection of a memorial in Stanley Park, Vancouver. Atop the monument, an eternal flame was lit.

Inouye may have thought he’d never have to fight for land again. But 25 years later, he did.

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Canadians. In 1942, the Privy Council relocated over 12,000 Japanese Canadians in B.C. to internment camps. Among the thousands were 58 Japanese-Canadian veterans of the First World War. Inouye was given a number, 03243, and separated from his sons.

Inouye’s farm land, which he had rented to a neighbour before he was abruptly relocated in an attempt to protect it, was claimed by the secretary of state and resold to the incoming veterans of the Second World War. The custodian of the secretary of state deemed this land “enemy property.”

In a letter of protest to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Inouye wrote, “Your petitioner believes that his loyalty to Canada has been well tested in the great war, and that it does not seem fair for the government to take away from one ex-service man a property so dear to him in order that it may be given to [a] soldier returning from the present war.”

Inouye wasn’t the only veteran who felt forgotten. “One veteran caught up in the government sweep threw his medals into the Skeena River in disgust,” writes Neary.

While the government sent these veterans to detention camps, the flame on the Japanese Canadian War Memorial was extinguished.

Eighty letters between Inouye and various recipients have been found and archived by the Nikkei Place as he fought to get his farm land back. Five years after the war, Inouye was the only Japanese-Canadian veteran to have his land returned to him. His home had burned down the year before he returned, and was only ensured for $300 by the custodian of the secretary of state. At age 64, Inouye had to rebuild.

Despite the racism that Inouye and bother Japanese Canadians faced, they continued to serve in Canada’s army. Mixed race Japanese Canadians, and those married to caucasians, were excluded from internment, and about 160 enlisted to serve in the Second World War as interpreters. Japanese Canadians deported to Japan after the war were later recruited to serve with the Canadian troops in the Korean War.

Reid says she recently interviewed a Japanese Canadian veteran of the Korean War and asked him why he agreed to serve a country where his people had faced so much discrimination. The man told her he feels Canadian and loves this country.

“I think they felt they could make a difference,” she says. “It was a statement.”

So why don’t most Canadians know about this?

“I don’t think it’s well-documented, talked about or illuminated,” Reid says. “I would encourage Canadians not to buy into that.”

Notes about documentation for my professor:

There were other documents that I wanted to use from the Nikkei Place. On their website, it said “copyright: open access” so I assumed I could use that. When I did my interview with the archivist, she informed me that I could not use them without submitting a form, so I submitted one. I have not heard back yet (I’ve followed up, but haven’t gotten a response) , so I went in a different direction. Instead, I hyperlinked the Nikkei Place collection so readers could view it if they were so inclined.

1) Attestation Paper: the very first document a soldier signs in order to enlist in the expeditionary forces. I liked this because it clearly showed his name and the force he served on. This would have been a great personal victory for Inouye, who travelled all the way into Alberta in order to enlist. I found it on Archives Canada.

2) Casualty form: a form that records the relocations, injuries, and deaths of any individual soldier. Though this one is harder to read, you can see clearly on the first page when he was sent to France, and on the second page when he was wounded. I found it on Archives Canada, where I also found information on how to read it. 

Canadian Biodiversity Convention’s 25th anniversary indicates progress made and education lacking


On June 5th, 1992 – a summer’s day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the international Convention on Biological Diversity received its first signature. Canada was the first country to put pen to paper and commit to national conservation of biodiversity, soon followed by 168 other countries. It has been 25 years since then and Canada’s National Targets are due for achievement in 2020.

The Convention text outlines the importance of international “conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits”. From this, each country developed their own national goals by creating action plans that address their specific environments and how to conserve them.

Canada’s National Targets are broken down into four categories (A through D) with sub-goals for each. First and foremost, Canada aims to plan and manage all land and water ecosystems in a means that supports conservation, at all levels of government.
Second, to reduce direct and indirect pressures on biodiversity through sustainable production and consumption of resources.
Third, to supply and disseminate education about biodiversity and ecosystems, including the promotion and respect of “aboriginal traditional knowledge”.
And finally, to inform Canadians about the value of nature and encourage active engagement in its stewardship.

Every four years a National Report on progress is submitted, the most recent was in 2014. It outlines 22 key findings followed by 100 pages that go further in-depth. Most of the key findings are positive, including 95% of aqua culture harvesting practices meeting sustainability criteria, an overall decrease in pollution in Canadian waters, the return of many bird populations that were previously on the decline, deforestation reduction and the conversion of 1000 square km into forest land.

However, many issues remain. Including the rapid ‘greening’ of Arctic tundra ecosystems, lake acidification across the country, 23% of the 70,000 known species in Canada still considered ‘at Risk’ or ‘Sensitive’, marine litter posing threat to aquatic life, and the rise of species-specific diseases such as White-Nose Syndrome in bat populations.

Given there are so many aspects to the Convention and its goals, it is difficult to discern what is perhaps of utmost concern. David Currie, an Ottawa University Biology Professor and co-author of 12 academic publications about biodiversity, explains what the important goals are and why they deserve particular attention.

“We need to rationalize the fact that one of the fundamental assumptions of our economy is not consistent with the fact that the earth is finite. We can’t grow forever in use of resources.” Currie said.

President Bush spoke to this during his 1992 address after returning from the Biodiversity Convention in Brazil. He said, “a growing economy creates the resources necessary for environmental protection and environmental protection makes growth sustainable over the long term.”

Economic growth is of particular importance in the current age of globalization, however it is imperative to have an understanding of the limitations of our natural planet in order to sustain growth. This balance can only be achieved through widespread education.

Of the 22 key points made in the 2014 National Report, education went unmentioned. Although the introduction of Environmental Studies and Sustainability degrees over the past 25 years indicates an increased incorporation of environmental education into our national curriculum, Currie says there is still important work to be done.

“When we think about human development, we should always be asking what will the impact be on the environment and what will we leave for our children? We are within sight of irreparable damage to the planet in many ways. And we have to have people know that this is something we need to pay attention to,” Currie said.


1. 2014 National Report, found online, outlined Canada’s progress.

2. Canadian Biodiversity National Targets, found online, explicated Canadian biodiversity goals.

3. 1995 Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, found online, original document outlining Canada’s approach to biodiversity.

50 years after Expo 67: what remains and what was lost?

The CBC Archives

On April 27th 1967, the whole world was watching Jean Drapeau’s inaugurative speech for the universal world fair. The Montreal mayor then said he maintained hope that it was possible to prevent the destruction of buildings and elements of the Expo’s site, so that the world fair should thus forever be imprinted in people’s memories on American soil. Drapeau’s dream of perenniality for the world fair has not quite come true.

Indeed, 50 years after the world fair that attracted 50 million people happened, few buildings or elements of Expo 67 subsist on Parc Jean-Drapeau. Out of 98 pavilions, only six subsist on the site to this day: the French, Québec, American, Tunisian, Jamaican and Korean pavilions. They are now respectively the Casino and its annex, the Biosphere, an office, a reception house and a bus stop.

Jean Drapeau’s grandson, Antoine Drapeau, says he thinks the city has done an okay job in preserving the site, but could have done more to preserve the glorious legacy of Expo ’67.

Julie Bélanger organizes extremely popular and free educational tours of the park to honour the legacy of the event. She is part of a handful of activists who really push the city and the Parc Jean-Drapeau Society to revitalize the site. She says that most of the big celebrations to come for the 50th anniversary of the Expo remain to be announced.

Bélanger says there are sadly many artefacts that aren’t preserved the way they should. For example: both sculptures Orbite Optique No 2 by Gerald Gladstone and Obélisque Oblique by Henri-Georges Adam do not have commemorative plaques that tells when they were made, who made them and why they are on the former Expo 67 site.  Gladstone’s statue stands in front of the Six Flags amusement park and Adam’s in front of the casino. Bélanger also deplores the fact that the Korea tower is now lying on its side, rotting behind the Gilles-Villeneuve F1 tracks since 2011.
Bureau d’art publique de la ville de Montréal

50 years later, those remains show a forgotten albeit glorious past. In his book “Montreal’s Expo 67”, Bill Cotter writes that Expo 67 hosted the largest art display of any world’s fair.

Historian Roger La Roche was thirteen years old when he started working at Expo 67. He has kept researching and working on the preservation of the site to this day. La Roche says he regrets that the city, the government of Québec, the government of Canada and the Parc Jean-Drapeau Society don’t do more to revive the site. He says the old pavilions lose their meaning if we cannot find a similar ambiance to that of the Expo at the park.

La Roche says that the only two things that really bring Montrealers on the islands are the Grand Prix and Evenko concerts in the summer– both events are private and do not give back to the Expo 67 legacy.

Of all people who attend the Grand Prix Formula 1 and Osheaga on Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame islands, how many of them know about the world class exhibition?

Antoine Drapeau says not that many. “The average citizen forgets that all of this site did not exist before the Expo.” He says people forget that a 100 years ago, all of this was only water and the site was built with man power, with soil dug from the entrails of Montreal.

The Parc Jean-Drapeau Society says its actions are constantly influenced by the spirit and the legacy of Expo ’67. The Society states that it has plans to build a site where one of the principal objectives is to recreate the spirit of Expo ’67. But that remains to be seen.

On the anniversary year of Expo 67, what is certain is that the universal fair is not being remembered the way mayor Drapeau envisioned it in his 1967 inaugural speech.













25 years later, Newfoundland still suffering from northern cod moratorium


Legend says when Italian explorer John Cabot discovered Newfoundland he plunged a bucket into the icy cold Atlantic. When he pulled it back into his boat it was filled to the brim with cod fighting to return to the fish infested water.

While Newfoundland experienced centuries of plentiful cod fishing, it came to an abrupt end 25 years ago with the northern cod moratorium.

After decades of overfishing the industry collapsed forcing the cod fishery on the northeast coast of the island to close on July 2, 1992 – leaving tens of thousands of fishermen and processing plant employees out of work.

A quarter of a century later the commercial moratorium is still in affect today.

Salt cod flakes, a favourite food of many Newfoundlanders. Creative Commons.

Dr. Barbara Neis, a university research professor with Memorial University of Newfoundland’s sociology department, said that it was the biggest layoff in Canada’s history with nearly 40,000 people left without work.

“We were all shocked,” said Neis, who has spent her career researching the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries. “It was like a death in the family.”

A death, according to Neis, that is still felt in the province today.

“This is a multi-generational crisis,” Neis said.

She said that young people from small towns who expected to work in the fisheries had to look elsewhere for employment.

She stated that one of the biggest issues for fishing communities across the province is that there are only a small number of young residents.

“The economic opportunities from the fishery became much more limited in those areas.”

Neis said that a young generation of workers said good-bye to their small coastal communities and headed to western Canada where there were more opportunities.

According to statistics from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the province’s population declined by 5 per cent five years following the moratorium – a number that has since dropped to 8 per cent today.

Annual Estimates of Population for Canada, Provinces and Territories, from July 1, 1971 to July 1, 2016.  Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, Aug. 28, 2016.

“You won’t have that kind of community based fishery that we’ve had in the past,” Neis said, worried about the loss of an important aspect of the island’s culture.

Small towns nestled between the rocks and the sea are no longer buzzing with the sounds of fishermen unloading the day’s catch, or women chatting as they gut codfish.
Tom Dooley, the director of Sustainable Fisheries and Ocean Policy, said that the faces of the fishing industry look a lot different then they did 25 years ago.

Boats docked in Petty Harbour, a small coastal fishing community in eastern Newfoundland. Photo by Jordan Steinhauer.

“The age structure in the industry is quite old,” Dooley said. “It’s actually quite startling.”

Dooley said that the ageing fisherman population is a concern.

“We will probably see people exit the industry,” he added as many fishermen are nearing retirement with few trained workers available to replace them.

He added that northern cod stocks are on the rise, but the province is ten years away from lifting the commercial fishing ban.

While many people in the cod fishery stopped fishing for good, Ron Alcock said that wasn’t an option for him.

Alcock said that he left school when he was in grade seven to become a fisherman like his father. The St. John’s native added that without any formal education it would have been difficult to work anywhere but on the ocean.

He said that following the moratorium he began fishing the low-valued monkfish to make ends meet.

The 58 year-old admits that at times things were tough for him and his family.

He says that after a long career as a fisherman he plans on retiring within the next few years.

“Fishing is not an easy job,” Alcock said. “But I got a lot to be proud of.”

With a small laugh he added “the fishery has been really, really good to me.”

Northern Cod a Failure of Canadian Fisheries Management. Committee Report, Parliament of Canada. 

More than just a memory, Cassiar’s online legacy


Twenty-five years after the town itself was bulldozed out of existence, former residents of Cassiar, B.C. keep their community alive online.

Cassiar’s asbestos mine opened in 1953, and the town grew around it. Located just off the Stuart Cassiar Highway in northern B.C., it was always a company town. Cassiar Mining Corp. provided electricity, sewage and infrastructure.

Asbestos mining maintained a bustling community for 40 years, but when the company went bankrupt in 1992, just over a thousand people had to abandon the little town tucked among the mountains.

Cassiarites dispersed around the world, some never to be heard from again, but others stayed in contact through letter writing, reunions, and now, social media.

The Facebook group, “Cassiar…do you remember?”, has just over 1100 members and almost daily former residents post memories, pictures, or videos.

There are class pictures from a schoolhouse no longer there, tributes to the deceased, and more recent pictures of the defunct mine. A string of comments follows each post as friends quibble over fading memories.

Herb Daum began the group in September 2007, and remains an administrator.

Daum, a born and raised Cassiarite, also runs a website completely dedicated to commemorating the community. He took over the site from its creator in 2000, and has since spent thousands of hours curating its historical information, photographs, and most importantly, connecting old friends.

Daum maintains an “address book” on the website, which can only be accessed by providing one’s own name and address. Daum says that there are hundreds and hundreds of names in the address book, though Facebook is a somewhat more convenient for communicating these days.

Former Cassiarites have also thrown several reunions.

Most notably, in 2001 there was a reunion near Vernon B.C. More than 800 people attended and residents from all periods of the town’s 40 year history gathered for a weekend.

“It was amazing…it was such an emotional high I didn’t sleep for three days,” said Daum of the reunion.

Loving Memories Live on for Long Gone Cassiar Former Residents of the Northern B C Asbestos Mining Town Are Planning a Reunion With the Help of Modern Technology (Text)

Above is a news clipping from the reunion held in 2001. I found it through a news database search and it helped confirm the number of people at the reunion that I had heard from a few sources.

Christel Travnik is Daum’s sister and lived in the town for 33 years. She also remembers the reunion with fondness, “It was non-stop, giving someone a hug and seeing the next person you were going to hug,” she said.

Despite the beauty of Cassiar and the fondness its former residents hold for the town, asbestos, the product they were mining, is a known carcinogen.

Margery Loverin lived off and on in Cassiar between 1962 and 1988. Her husband had asbestosis, a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling the fibrous mineral, before he passed away in 2011. Loverin suffers from a lung disease herself, which doctors say could be caused from exposure.

Daum tries to remain positive, “I have this sword hanging over my head by a horsehair,  I think we all do,” he says, “but hey, I choose to focus on the blessings.” He laughs, “I’m healthy now.”

On Facebook, sometimes former residents share advice and resources for asbestos exposure, but many try and look with hope to the future.

Drone footage from 2014 shows that Cassiar is flattened. There’s little left but a bunkhouse and piles of rubble. The houses were sold off and bulldozed. The rec centre collapsed almost a decade ago under the weight of snow, the church  did the same within the past couple of years.

Above is drone footage from Gordon Loverin, a former resident of Cassiar. It shows the townsite in 2014 and helps give an idea of what the area looks like today. I found it on Daum’s website.
Travnik made the trip to Cassiar in 2008. “It was almost like a funeral,” she said. The trees and houses she’d grown up knowing were all gone.

Loverin however, is looking forward to a 25th anniversary reunion of the mine’s close in July, to be held at the townsite. Amidst the festivities there will be a wedding, as two Cassiarites start their new future in the town where they met, and connected.

The Edison of the ocean


Robert W. Boyle is the inventor that history forgot.

The Canadian physics professor was responsible for opening up the ocean to military and scientists around the world with what was revolutionary technology at the time, sonar. Few remember him.

Boyle made a major development in sonar technology during the First World War. Not only did it change the face of war, but sonar allowed scientists to understand the ocean in a way that would have been impossible without it.

“Acoustics underwater is sort of like light in the air,” said Rich Pawlowicz, a professor of oceanography at the University of British Columbia. Underwater, light can only travel a few metres, but sound can travel halfway around the world.

That would make Boyle akin to Thomas Edison, who didn’t invent the light bulb but gave the world the first usable one. The world definitely remembers Edison though.

Boyle was teaching physics at the University of Alberta during the First World War. His colleague, Sir Ernest Rutherford, was in England at the time trying to develop technology to detect German submarines. Scientists were rushing to build machines that used sound to see the ocean.

French inventor Paul Langévin is widely credited as the inventor of sonar. According to All True Things by Rod MacLeod, Langévin had the theory behind sonar in 1916, but his machine was too bulky and was never used on any ships.

In 1917, Boyle created the first working sonar. He changed the material of the inner device to quartz, making it more compact and with a clearer quality. This was the first sonar to be mounted on a warship, according to MacLeod.

Boyle never took any patents for the sonar, as Langévin did. As MacLeod states, between the tight secrecy regulations surrounding the Royal Navy at the time and Boyle’s strong sense of humility, he wasn’t credited for the invention either. So he slipped out of historical recognition.

When Boyle’s sonar turned on the figurative lights in the ocean, they were used mostly for war. In the Second World War, the battle moved underwater. As Popular Science’s James L.H. Peck reported in 1946, that was only possible because of sonar.

“The new eyes and ears of the ship,” wrote Peck, “do their jobs as silently as those of people.”

Elinor Sloan, professor of military and strategic studies at Carleton University, said that anti-submarine warfare was Canada’s main mission during the Cold War as well, and continues today.

“This was just a mission that Canada took on,” said Sloan. “We’re a little bit better at it.”

Once the wars had stopped, scientists began looking around the ocean for more than enemy subs.

Sonar has let scientists examine parts of the ocean that were inaccessible before. As sound waves bounce off objects in the ocean, sonar can relay much more than location. It can give the size, shape, density and direction of movement depending on how the waves return.

“The only way of seeing this is with acoustics,” said Pawlowicz, “because you can make a kind of photograph of what the ocean looks like.”

Ocean scientists like Pawlowicz are now using sonar to map the deep ocean mountains, areas that could never be accessible to machines or people. He said that his research right now examines the flow of water between deep-sea basins, the valleys of the ocean.

“All of this would be impossible without acoustics,” said Pawlowicz.

“Sonar is as useful a tool as using light to see everything you see in every day life.”

All of this may not have happened if not for Boyle.

Documentation Material:

The most important piece of documentation I acquired was the pages in All True Things: A History of the University of Alberta 1908-2008 by Rod MacLeod. I found it on the Library and Archives Canada website and arranged a viewing of it. This is the most thorough piece of information regarding the main character in my story, Robert W. Boyle. As he was given little (if any) credit for inventing a workable sonar, and so it is difficult to find reliable information on him.

My second piece of documentation is an article from 1946 in Popular Science. It was referenced in a different article I was reading about the history of sonar. Instead of using the secondary account of what the article was saying, I went straight to the source. I found it quite simply through Google. The article goes through the history of sonar and explains how it was important for military operations in the Second World War. It jumps in time, however, from the development of the theory to ships suddenly having sonars. That missing step is where Boyle came in and did his work.

“Within a culture”: 50 years of Canadian publishing with House of Anansi Press


It has been 50 years since a once-small, independent publishing company began to make its mark in Toronto. House of Anansi Press has promoted new Canadian authors since 1967—a time when individuals were questioning what Canadian literature even was.

House of Anansi Press was co-founded by University of Toronto graduates Dennis Lee and David Godfrey. The two of them were young writers, frustrated over the lack of Canadian content on bookshelves at the time.

In an interview with a literary magazine called Canadian Forum, Godfrey guessed that only about 2 per cent of books in stores were actually Canadian. He believed that new voices in fiction were still missing in Canada.

“The real need is in fiction for parti-pris novels,” said Godfrey. “First novels of young people who have a different way of seeing things or putting it down or something interesting to say.”

The year 1967 marked the 10th anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts—a council created to fund and promote Canadian art. In Canada’s centennial year, the Council began to focus on publishing, giving House of Anansi enough funds to kick-start their press.

In their first year, they managed to publish four collections of poetry. One of those collections was a re-issue of budding writer, Margaret Atwood’s The Circle Game. The company continued to publish what they could out of Godfrey’s downtown Toronto home. By 1969 the press published one-third of all Canadian novels that year.

Atwood and her then-husband Jim Polk joined the press in 1970. Polk became the new editor while the two co-founders left to pursue other interests. With House of Anansi, Atwood published her first book on literary criticism called Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. This book went on to be taught in schools as it shaped the way Canadians viewed themselves culturally.

Margaret Atwood discusses her book, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, in a 1972 interview with Adrienne Clarkson on CBC’s program, Take 30. Credit: CBC Digital Archives.

In a 1973 interview on the CBC program Impressions, Atwood discussed her book and how Canadian literature was struggling to survive. She metaphorically said that “Canadian literature is about a guy hanging on a bridge trying to climb up.” Atwood also commented on the interconnections between literature and culture.

“I don’t think literature exists within an ivory tower,” said Atwood. “But literature is produced by a culture, it exists within a culture.”

Margaret Atwood’s 1973 Interview with Ramsay Cook on CBC’s Impressions. Credit: CBC Digital Archives.

The publishing company landed in the hands of philanthropist and businessman Scott Griffin in 2002. About 35 years after its inception, House of Anansi began to grow significantly, publishing books that won big awards like the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Jody Mason is a professor of Canadian literature at Carleton University who researches institutions of literature in Canada. She believes that while House of Anansi’s role in publishing has changed, it is still committed to publishing unique, Canadian voices.

“I think that at the time it was on the edge of publishing, taking incredible risks with young writers who were involved in the press in a very intimate way,” says Mason. “Now if you look at the Anansi webpage you see that it has most certainly become associated with the big novels…and that’s how it’s been able to retain its place.”

Mason says that right now, the Canadian publishing market is dominated by a multinational one but House of Anansi is one of the few exceptions to that rule. She believes it serves as an inspiration to young writers who are also interested in small-press publishing.

Today, House of Anansi publishes in both print and e-book editions. The company has eight different imprints and 224 award-winning books listed on their website.

In a blog post on House of Anansi’s 50th celebration website, a preface written by Margaret Atwood for her book, Survival, is posted. She wrote it five years ago, in celebration of Anansi’s 45th anniversary.

“It’s incredible that the House of Anansi has itself survived for forty-five years,” wrote Atwood. “I hope it will persist for another forty-five years…and that reading of books will still take place then, and that readers will continue to find such reading an enjoyable and meaningful way to spend time. For if so, the human race will also have survived.”

Descriptions of sources can be found here.

After 50 years, Pierre Trudeau still applauded for making strides toward LGBT rights

A 48 year-old Pierre Elliott Trudeau speaking to journalists after announcing the proposal of the omnibus bill

It looked like just another routine scrum at Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. But as microphones huddled in front of a young Pierre Elliott Trudeau, he uttered words that would change the course of LGBT rights in Canada:

There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” he declared. It was 1967. Soon enough, his words would become immortalized in collective Canadian memory.

As the Minister of Justice in Lester B. Pearson’s cabinet, Trudeau’s statement was in response to a controversial omnibus bill he’d just proposed. It would, among other things, decriminalize private homosexual acts between consenting adults over the age of 21.

“I think for a lot of gay people it felt like he was speaking directly to them,” says Sky Gilbert, an associate professor at the University of Guelph specializing in gay politics. The statement, he says, is made more significant by the fact that it was even before the Stonewall Riots, a famous protest in 1969 against police raids of a gay New York City club.

While Trudeau’s statement and the bill were a great step, Gilbert says it’s important not to spread the myth that “gaining civil liberties solves the problem.”

Gary Kinsman, a sociology professor at Laurentian University and a long time gay rights activist, agrees. He says it’s often forgotten that the ‘homosexual acts’ portion of the bill was proposed mainly in response to the controversial Everett Klippert case.

Klippert was a Saskatchewan man convicted of ‘gross indecency’ after admitting to police that he had sexual encounters with other men. He was sentenced to life in prison after being deemed a ‘dangerous sexual offender’. His case reached the Supreme Court, where judges ruled against him in a 3-2 decision, which was met with protest from the gay community. The news made its way to parliament, influencing Trudeau’s drafting of that section of the bill. (Klippert was released from prison four years later).

Evidently, the bill emerged in a context of widespread institutional homophobia, says Kinsman – and this didn’t just disappear when it eventually became law in 1969. He says many don’t realize that after this, arrests of people participating in ‘homosexual acts’ actually rose.

Video linked above courtesy of CBC Archives:

This was because police had clearer legal guidelines for what was considered an offense – which, according to the bill, meant any ‘public’ homosexual acts. Kinsman points to police attempts to shut down gay clubs in Montreal before the 1976 Olympics, and the 1981 Toronto bath house raids, as examples.

“People begin to seize more and more social space,” Kinsman explains, “But by the mid ‘70s, it’s actually leading to the police organizing major clampdowns on public visibility, for gay men in particular.”

These are problems that arise when the state attempts to regulate sexuality, even if the intention may be to expand people’s rights, says Kinsman. Even some of the biggest ‘wins’ since, such as the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Charter, don’t fully address the scope of homophobia, he says.

“Most of the rights that have been won have a very formal character to them,” Kinsman says, “And what we really need is substantive rights and substantive equality.”

Still, both Gilbert and Kinsman agree the magnitude of Trudeau’s statement can’t be discounted, a sentiment echoed by voices from the past.

The day after the bill’s proposal, a lesbian woman told the Globe and Mail she was appreciative of the signal to a shift in attitude.

“It would be nice to be able to get married legally if you wanted to,” she said, “But I don’t think we’ll ever make the grade there. You can’t win them all.”

In nearly four decades, the passing of the same-sex marriage law would prove her wrong. And in years to come, the LGBT rights movement in Canada would continue its fight to ensure the state stays out of the bedrooms of the nation.


Source documentation:

Source 1: CBC Archives Video

I found this video of the scrum with Pierre Trudeau online, through CBC Archives footage. It was helpful because it provided better context as to what the omnibus bill was targeting, the questions the public raised about it, and the attitude and rhetoric behind it.

Source 2: Globe and Mail article

I found this article – and many others related to this topic – through a Pages of the Past search with the Carleton Library. It was useful because it helped bring a voice from the time into my story, and helped reflect societal views and attitudes in 1967.

Courtesy of the Globe and Mail. Published December 22nd, 1967.