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The Podcast

A bi-weekly discussion-based show about the literature, culture, and people that have helped inform Canada’s unique history and features. Hosted by Patrick, a graduate student of English literature & Canadian history, and Mackenzy, his English literature companion! Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts… pretty much everywhere. I think…I don’t pay attention to this. I know that if you click on the episode name it’ll take you to a link, so there’s that!

Episode 65 – “The Stone Cross”: A Story of Ukrainian Immigrants

In which the boys talk about the first wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada and its influence, with the help of Vasyl Stefanyk’s 1899 story, “The Stone Cross”.

Interview: Derek Hayes on ‘Incredible Crossings’

In which Patrick talks to geographer-historian Derek Hayes about his latest book about the fascinating history of infrastructure in British Columbia: Incredible Crossings.

Episode 64 – The Trial of Louis Riel

In which we discuss the events, immediate impact and aftermath of one of the most famous trials in Canadian history.

Episode 63 – The North-West Resistance

In which we overview the return of Louis Riel and the second – and ill-fated – attempted to secure Métis rights in Canada. We then look at how writers reacted to what is one of the most important Canadian events of 1885.

An Interview with George Elliott Clarke (Part 2)

In which we present the second part of our talk with former Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke! Topics include Confederation-era African-Canadian lives, their poetry, and a bunch of tangents.

An Interview with George Elliott Clarke (Part 1)

In which (for reasons of storage space) we present the first part of our very interesting talk with former Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke! Topics include Confederation-era African-Canadian lives, their poetry, and a bunch of tangents.

Episode 62 – Towards the Last Spike: Discussing the Canadian Pacific Railway

In which we discuss the idea of the Canadian Pacific Railway – what it represents to Canada’s myths, its symbolism, and its role in nation/state-building. We use works by E.J. Pratt, F.R. Scott, and G.M. Grant to help us think through this landmark moment in Canada’s history.

Episode 61 – Language Rights in Early Canadian Education

In which we address issues of linguistic and religious rights in Canada’s Confederation-era education.

Episode 60 – James De Mille’s Strange Postmodern Anti-Utopian Novel

In which, using James De Mille’s A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (1888), we talk about utopianism and postmodernism as it relates to Canada and its culture, past and present! It’s a wild episode that goes everywhere, but we love it.

Author Interview! – Philip Earle; ‘I’ll Go the Length of Meself’

In which we talk to Philip Earle about the book he wrote about his father, Guy Earle! Tune in to learn more about this fascinating mariner in Newfoundland’s history and how he became an emblematic folk hero.

Find more about the book here:

Episode #59 – Policing the West: The Cypress Hills Massacre & NWMP

In which we use Guy Vanderhaeghe’s novel The Englishman’s Boy to discuss the Cypress Hills Massacre (1873) and how, in its aftermath, Canada fast-tracked the creation of the North-West Mounted Police.

Episode #58 – Hockey: Origins & National Metaphors

In which we talk about the early days of Canada’s other, more famous, national sport, with discussions about its cultural and metaphorical importance.

Episode #57 – Lacrosse: From Indigenous Ceremony to National Sport

In which we talk about one of Canada’s national sports – how it started, how it got so popular, and what it represents in the national myth of the country!

Episode #56 – The Stone Man: PM Alexander Mackenzie

In which we return to some caricatures to talk about Canada’s second Prime Minister: Alexander Mackenzie, who served from 1873-1878.

Author Interview! Ryan Uytdewilligen & ‘The History of Lethbridge’

In which Patrick sits down with Ryan Uytdewilligen to discuss one of his latest books: The History of Lethbridge! It’s a great self-published book about a fascinating Alberta town that has much more to offer than meets the eye!

Find out about the book and the author:

Episode #55 – The Indian Act (1876)

In which Mack gets mad as we go through the context and major parts of the infamous piece of Canadian legislation. Topics include the White Man’s Burden, racism, racism, sexism, and racism.

Cover caricature by Dale Cummings.

Episode #54 – Plains Natives: Outline, Cultural Survival & Representations

In which we discuss cultural practices that emerged in and about Plains Natives communities before, during, and after early colonization! Topics include powwows, the Ghost Dance, and Paul Kane.

Episode #53 – Canada’s First Music Superstar: Emma Albani

In which we discuss the changes happening in Canada’s music scene at the end of the 19th century, before going over the country’s first international sensation: Emma Albani! You know you’ve hit it big when Queen Vicky becomes your friend.

Author Interview! Dominique Prinet; ‘Flying to Extremes’

In which we put our chronology on hold as Patrick sits down with Dominique Prinet to discuss his new book ‘Flying to Extremes’.

Recounting his adventures as a bush pilot in the Northwest Territories, ‘Flying to Extremes’ is steeped in historical knowledge and first-hand experience of the Canadian Arctic, the Canadian aviation sector, and bush piloting in the rough and tumble late 1960s and early 1970s.

You can find the book here:

Episode #52 – The Beothuk, Newfoundland & the Creation of a ‘Native’ Culture

In which we look at how the now-extinct Beothuk population helped the creation of a distinct Newfoundland identity that actively rejected Canada. Other topics include painting, poetry, and the attempted entry of Newfoundland into Confederation in 1869.

Picture: The Original Arms of the Newfoundland granted by Sir John Borough, Garter Principal King of Arms, 1637.

Episode #51 – Free Speech & Censorship in Victorian Canada

In which we look at many forms of free speech (and how it was limited) in mid-19th century Canada! From newspapers to workers movements to the censoring of a literary association by the Church, this episode starts the new year off strong!

Picture: Ignace Bourget, bishop of Montreal. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Episode #50 – Red River Resistance (Part 2)

In which we reach 50 episodes with a bang! Listen in to our last episode of the year as we talk about the second half of the Red River Resistance and the creation of Manitoba. Happy holidays all!

Picture: Execution of Thomas Scott, from the Illustrated Canadian News, 23 April 1870.

Episode #49 – Red River Resistance (Part 1)

In which we start talking about the 1869-70 Métis resistance that led to the creation of Manitoba and represented many of the issues that Canada still faces today.

Picture: Louis Riel in 1865.

Episode #48 – Industrialization & Common Folk, c. 1867

In which we each power through a concussion and antibiotics to discuss how mid-19th century modernization affected Canada and talk about folk tales once more! Topics include life in the country and the city, child labour, and of course Karl Marx.

Picture: A young working girl with a coal sack in Toronto, ca. 1900.

Episode #47 – Sir John A. Macdonald (Part 2): The The Ugly Side & More Caricatures

In which we talk about the dark side of Macdonald’s legacy and the latter part of his life, again using caricatures (but ones that make us go “yikes…”).

Picture: An evocative caricature!

Episode #46 – Sir John A. Macdonald (Part 1): The Bright Side & Caricatures

In which we examine the legacy of Canada’s first PM through caricatures! This episode focuses on his early life and what is considered to be J. A. Macdonald’s more ‘positive’ legacy…and how that is certainly a double-edged sword.

Picture: An evocative caricature!

Episode #45 – Confederation (Part 2): To 1867 & Beyond

In which we we discuss the officialization of the British North America Act, its immediate impact, and much more as Canada takes on its first kind of independent form! We also discuss photographer William Notman as a case study for how culture is changing in the new country. It’s an episode of debates, dirty tricks, exclusions, and parties!

Picture: The Canadian Red Ensign

Episode #44 – Confederation (Part 1): The 1864 Conferences

In which we talk about the conferences in Charlottetown and Quebec that laid the groundwork for Canada and the British North America Act! We also end on by analyzing some artistic depictions of those moments.

Picture: 1967 recreation of a burned painting of the Fathers of Confederation (Original, 1883)

Episode #43 – Thomas D’Arcy McGee: Advocating a ‘New Nationality’

In which  we discuss a famous poet and politician that allows us to address the Fenians, the further establishment of Irish-Canadians, and who fully leads us into Confederation!!

Picture: Thomas D’Arcy McGee

Episode #42 – The Gold Rush That Created British Columbia

In which we talk about the 1858 Fraser River gold rush, its part in the creation of the colony of British Columbia, and a modern take on the event in Raymond Maher’s ‘The Deadly Five’ novel.

Picture: British Columbia Coat of Arms

Episode #41 – Trickster: Chaos & Creation

In which we have Native American, Himanish Goel, join us to talk about the Trickster figure as a way to open on a central part of many Western Indigenous myths and British Columbia generally! We use Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster to help us with some of the themes. Somewhat relevant tangents include Loki and To Kill A Mockingbird.

Picture: Wisakedjak, a trickster featured in various creation stories, and the Moon.

Episode #40 – Charles Sangster: Colonial Poet Laureate

In which Mack stays awake long enough to talk about Canada’s “Colonial Poet Laureate” and rising English-Canadian nationalism. Topics include Gothic literature, the formation of Canada’s military, and reciprocity treaties!

Picture: Charles Sangster, date uncertain.

Episode #39 – Octave Crémazie: French-Canada’s National Bard

In which, on our road to Confederation, we discuss he who was once known as ‘French-Canada’s National Bard’! Topics also include the situation in 1850s Canada, reflections on Confederation, and the Annexation Manifesto!

Picture: Bust of Crémazie in Montreal’s Place Saint-Louis

Episode #38 – Alias Grace: Sensationalism, Crime & Madness (ft. Just Watch Me)

In which we are joined by the great Liv and Kate (‘Just Watch Me’ podcast) to talk about Margaret Atwood’s 1996 historical fiction novel, Alias Grace. We discuss Atwood’s use of fiction and history, the novel’s purpose, Victorian perceptions of women and crime, and much more!

Picture: Depiction of Grace Marks, c. 1843

Episode #37 – The Hudson’s Bay Company & Young Boys’ Fiction

In which we discuss the famous Hudson’s Bay Company in relation to R. M. Ballantyne’s ‘Snowflakes & Sunbeams’ (1856) – a pioneer of boys’ fiction! How did the HBC inform Ballantyne’s writing? What is the relation between the HBC and the sense of wonder and imagination that the novel depicts? This one covers all those great questions and more!

Picture: Sir George Simpson, HBC administrator

Episode #36 – George Copway: Ojibwe Romanticism & Resistance (ft. Prof. Kevin Hutchings)

In which Kevin Hutchings (Professor of English at the University of Northern British Columbia) joins us to talk about the once-famous Ojibwe Methodist writer, George Copway (Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh)! From Copway’s relation to Romanticism to his resistance to European hegemony, this episode covers a lot! Kevin was great and allowed us to make one of our favourite episodes yet. 
Picture: Professor Kevin Hutchings.

Episode #35 – Black Robe: Images in Dialogue

In which we use Brian Moore’s 1985 novel Black Robe to discuss the use and creation of images by Jesuits missionaries in New France. This also acts as a kind of prelude to a very special episode in two weeks!

Picture: Sketch by Jesuit Father Nicholas Point. “Members of the Native American Salish tribe receive communion. Reverse reads “A great many Indians kneeling on the interior of the church.” Circa 1842.

Episode #34 – Early Theatre: Performing Society & History

In which we cover a range of pre-Confederation plays, including Charles Heavysege’s once-popular ‘Saul’, and discuss how they inform the performance of history, society, and culture.

Picture: Montreal’s Theatre Royal, 1825.

Episode #33 – A Folk Orange & Green: Overview of Irish Cultural Impacts

In which we cover mini topics as a way of setting up the Irish influence in Canada – and how ideas of sectarianism and unity within that population are more complicated than one might think. Topics include folk music, religion, politics, and St. Patrick’s Day riots!

Picture: Representation of the 1876 Jubilee Riots.

Episode #32 – ‘Evangeline’: Romanticizing The Acadian Expulsion

In which we discuss the once-famous 1847 long poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline! Topics include the Acadian Expulsion in the 1750s, the American ‘Fireside Poets’, and the impact of Evangeline on the Acadians of old and today. 

Picture: Cover of Évangéline

Episode #31 – Act of Union & Responsible Government (ft. Craig from Canadian History Ehx!)

In which we are joined by the delightful Craig (from Canadian History Ehx) to discuss the major changes in the Canadian government during the 1840s. Topics include the union of the Canadas, the gaining the responsible government, and the burning of Parliament in Montreal! 

Picture: Statue of the famous Baldwin-Lafontaine duo.

Episode #30 – Early African-Canadian Literatures

In which we discuss the early development of African-Canadian literature by covering newspapers, religious narratives, literary networks, and slave narratives from 1785 to 1855. It’s a big, but great conversation!

Picture: Imagined portrait of Mathieu da Costa

Episode #29 – Frances Brooke: She Who Wrote the First Canadian Novel!

In which we flash back to 1769 for a one-and-done-episode on ‘The History of Emily Montague’, a book that is often considered to be the very first Canadian novel – and it was written by a woman! How’s that for being radical? We talk about 18th century feminism, the author’s politics, what the book tells us about Canada at the time, and of course, whether this can be called a first in Canada!

Picture: Frances Brooke

Episode #28 – ‘Convergences’: Reframing James Cook’s Arrival in B.C.

In which we use Lionel Kearns’ book Convergences to finally discuss the other side of Canada! Topics include James Cook’s arrival in British Columbia, contact with the Nuu-chah-nulth people, and the importance of understanding history as a narrative. It’s a big one and we love it!

Picture: Cover of Convergences

Episode #27 – Joseph Howe: Publishing, Journalism & Libel in 1830s Nova Scotia

In which we cover the early life of the famous Nova Scotian Joseph Howe, from his publishing endeavors that encouraged local cultural talents to his 1835 libel trial that changed the game for free speech in Canada.

Picture: Joseph Howe after a Halifax Triumph, by C.W. Jefferys

Episode #26 – Pre-Confederation First Nations Treaties; An Overview and Discussion

In which we talk about the evolution of treaties signed between Europeans and First Nations in Pre-Confederation Canada.

Picture: Excerpt from the Great Peace of Montreal (1701)

Patreon Preview: Pop Canada #1 – Cirque du Soleil

In which we give you a free taste of the fun we’re having over on Patreon! What starts off as an overview of the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, ends up being a fascinating conversation about the future potential for the show and the philosophy of circus art!

Picture: Still from the Cirque du Soleil’s water-based show, ‘O’

Episode #25 – Coming to Upper Canada: Assisted Emigration, Letters & Poetry

In which we discuss migration to Upper Canada in the 1830’s through the Petworth Emigration Committee, poetry by Alexander McLachlan, and letters from those who immigrated to the country! We even talk about superheroes and Thanos because… well… just listen and see.

Episode #24 – Early Medical History (Part 2) – Grosse Île Quarantine Island

In which we power through some glitchy internet connections to talk about Grosse Île Quarantine Station! We use poems by Margaret Atwood and Al Purdy to discuss more of the psychological effects of being in isolation in the 19th century than scientific medical practices. Still great fun though!

Picture: Irish Memorial site on Grosse Île

Halloween Interlude! – Ghost Tales & Spooky Folklore

In which we halt our narrative to talk about werewolves, ghost ships, and…flying canoes?!

Picture: Said flying canoe!

Episode #23 – Early Medical History of Canada (Part 1) – Natural Cures, Myths & Religion

In which we begin an overview discussion about health and medicine in Canada from the First Nations to New France. Let’s look at a pre-germ theory world with the help of Indigenous legends and some lame poetry!

Picture: Modern portrait of Jeanne Mance by Marie-Josée Hudon

Episode #22 – Lord Durham’s Report: Imposing British Capitalism & French Assimilation

In which we discuss the British investigation into the causes for the Rebellions… before they ended… and the controversial report by Lord Durham that resulted from it! This report is both the literature and the history this week. 

Picture: Durham as a young and dashing Reformer

Episode #21 – The Rebellions of 1837-8 (Part 3) – The Radical Fringes

In which we really end the discussion on the Rebellions with a long talk on those who were more active and violent in their actions against the British. The literature this week is the Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada and other such documents! It’s a great way to start Season 2, let’s goooo!

Picture: Battle of St. Eustache. Artist unknown.

Episode #20 – The Rebellions of 1837-8 (Part 2) – Papineau & Lower Canada

In which we conclude the main narrative of the Rebellions by talking about Lower Canada, Louis-Joseph Papineau, French-Canadian nationalism, very centrist poetry, and Star Wars! It all makes sense, okay? Kind of…

Picture: 1840 lithograph of the Battle of St. Eustache. By Lord Charles Beauclerk.

Episode #19 – The Rebellions of 1837-8 (Part 1) – Mackenzie & Upper Canada

In which a guest returns to talk about the Rebellions of 1837-8 in Upper Canada through some poetry!

Picture: Bust of Rebellion leader, William Lyon Mackenzie

Episode #18 – The First French-Canadian Novel & French Survival

In which we come to the end of our road to the Rebellions of 1837-8 and talk about the rise of the need for French-Canadians to distinguish themselves in British North America through things like the novel!

Picture: Philippe-Ignace-François Aubert-de-Gaspé. The author of the first French-Canadian novel, L’influence d’un livre.

Episode #17 – Satire & Empire: Discussing T.C. Haliburton and ‘The Clockmaker’

In which we do something new on the show by bringing in a guest! Topics include reactions to progressive changes in Canada and imperialist satire.  Using T.C. Haliburton’s seminal comedy ‘The Clockmaker’, we explore the other side of the more liberal sentiments forming in the 1830s.

Picture: C.W. Jefferys’ image of a “clock peddlar” – as is Haliburton’s Sam Slick famous character.

Episode #16 – A Brief History of Government in Canada (1608-1836)

In which, before covering some major shifts, we explore the political institutions that came, went, and remained from New France to British North America.

Picture: Representation of the first Nova Scotia assembly in 1758 by Charles Walter Simpson.

Episode #15 – Pontiac’s Rebellion: Balancing “Wilderness” & “Civilization”

In which John Richardson’s (pictured) 1832 novel ‘Wacousta’ helps us understand a fear of the unknown wilderness on the Canadian frontier – a fear solidified in the aftermath of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763.

Episode #14 – Loyalist Descendants, the (Over) Idealistic Next Generation?

In which Oliver Goldsmith’s poem ‘The Rising Village’ is used to explore how the sons and daughters of the Loyalists saw their forefathers and their own place within Canada.

Picture: St. Paul’s Church, Halifax. Painting by William Eager.

Episode #13 – The Scottish in Canada (Part 2) – Social Justice, Religion & Education

In which we conclude our examination of the Scottish in Canada with a look at their influence on social justice and education. We even bring back some literature!

Picture: Thomas McCulloch, Presbyterian minister and educational reformer.

Episode #12 – The Scottish in Canada (Part 1) – The Ballad of Commerce & Nostalgia

In which the first wave of Scottish migration to British North America is discussed, with an emphasis on commerce and language!

Picture: “Arrival of Selkirk Settlers” by Charles Sheldon.

Episode #11 – The War of 1812: The Awakening & Romance of Canada

In which the War of 1812 is examined as this turning point in the Canadian identity and imagination in spite of its lack of any tangible military or territorial impact.

Picture: Meeting of two major figures of the War of 1812, Tecumseh and Isaac Brock. By C.W. Jefferys.

Episode #10 – New France & Early French-Canadian Writing

In which we turn back the clock and return to New France for a bit to discuss the roots of major elements of the French-Canadian identity.

Picture: Joseph Quesnel, early French composer in Canada.

Episode #9 – First Nations’ Oral Traditions & Early Writing

In which First Nations’ history and storytelling is explored through their oral traditions and how writing changed a culture forever. A kind of follow up from Episode #8!

Picture: Six Nations chief, photo taken in the 1860’s by an unknown photographer.

Episode #8 – Inuit Oral Traditions & The Impact of Writing

In which the Inuit culture and oral mode of storytelling is explored, followed by an overview of how writing changed the approach to their myths and legends.

Picture: Inuk with Pack Dog. By Richard Harrington.

Episode #7 – Slavery, Black Loyalists & Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes (Someone Knows My Name)

In which Lawrence Hill’s 2007 novel ‘The Book of Negroes’ (known as ‘Someone Knows My Name’ outside of Canada) is used to discuss Black Loyalists and slavery in the British Empire and Canada.

Picture: Black Loyalists arriving in Nova Scotia. By Robert Petley.

Episode #6 – Loyalists & Early English Poetry in the Maritimes

In which we discuss 18th century English poetry from the Maritimes. Let’s get into New England Planters, Loyalists, and a whole lot of misconceptions as to their role in the formation of Canada!

Picture: Loyalists at Kingston. By James Peachy.

Episode #5 – Early Newfoundland Poetry & England’s First Colony

In which the first poetry produced in what would become Canada is examined! How can Newfoundland’s 17th and 18th century poets tell us about the very slowly emerging culture of Canada’s last province?

Picture: Cover page of the first poetry collection published in Newfoundland, Quodlibets by Richard Hayman.

Episode #4 – Exploration Literature (Part 2) – Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s Voyages from Montreal

In which we cap off our examination of exploration literature with Alexander Mackenzie’s recounting of his late-18th century travels from Montreal to the Arctic Ocean and to the Pacific Ocean! Bloody legend!

Picture: Stone where Mackenzie wrote his name in grease upon crossing Canada in 1793. It was later carved in for preservation by surveyors.

Episode #3 – Exploration Literature (Part 1) – The Voyages of Samuel de Champlain

In which we begin an examination of exploration literature through Samuel de Champlain and his writings about the adventures he went on (or did he…)! Find out how 400 years ago, Champlain helped set up many aspects of Canadian life that are still relevant today.

Picture: Not Champlain! This picture has been used to depict him for centuries, but no portraits actually exist of him.

Episode #2 – Indigenous Orality & French Contact

In which a 1988 album by a Native American artist tells us about the forgotten or erased history of Indigenous populations in Canada and their initial contact with Europeans.

Picture: The cover of the album Bush Lady by Alanis Obomsawin – the focus of the episode.

Episode #1 – Defining Canada with Atwood’s The Journals of Susanna Moodie

In which Margaret Atwood’s 1970 collection of poetry tells us about the major themes and subjects that will be central to Canadian culture and history.

Picture: Margaret Atwood in 1972, circa the publication of The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Photo by Ron Bull.

Episode #0 – An Introduction!

In which we find out what the show is about! Is that a rhyme? I feel it is…

Picture: Flags of Canada and its provinces.