In a series of essays rhat explore the neighbourhoods, people, recent trends, and "sundry civic idiosyncrasies" that for him define Vancouver, Demers offers a personal reading of the city that dips occasionally into the distant past but mainly focuses on the period since Expo '86, which he considers the city's "most important experiential borderline." The satirical insights of the stand-up comedian stand out particularly in the second half of the book where Demers moves from place- and group-specific subjects to more general themes such as "nature," "pot," "crime," "dogs," and what he calls Vancouver anarchism, or "Vanarchism."
He approaches this "systematic" analysis of British Columbia's population not through "a highly technical exercise in statistics" (16) but rather through a careful analysis of available sources, including the obvious state-generated data as well as unexplored primary sources such as church records and undertakers' registers. Especially important is 's case study of the household structure and demographic makeup of two communities, Nanaimo and Kamloops, from 1881 to 1901. The latter work has generated important new insights on nuptiality, and especially the fact of remarriage under "frontier" conditions; on fertility, including the high fertility rate in the coal mining community of Nanaimo compared to the ranching and transportation centre of Kamloops; and on mortality in a male-dominated resource-based province, which he argues convincingly was "distinct (to British Columbia) in several respects." (164) His insightful discovery of a "shockingly high" infant mortality rate in...
While this group can be thought of as the "civil service" proper, the number of people listed in the province's Public Accounts as working for the state in casual or part-time labour - people like T. Christopher, a "temporary" cook at the New Westminster Lunatic Asylum who earned $120 for government work in the year ending 1 July 1881, but who would not be included among the "public servants" referred to in Table 1 - expands the category considerably. the number in 1881 increases from 42 to 93 and in 1891 from 109 to 196.\n106 He left his academic job at the University of Toronto to take up the newly created position of director of social welfare in British Columbia.
Mcdonald reviews Creating a Modern Countryside: Liberalism and Land Settlement in British Columbia by James Murton.
A closer look at Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper's years in British Columbia (BC) Canada suggests that his public career did not so much end as change when he left Parliament and electoral politics. Yet, what stands out from the story of Tupper's involvement in provincial politics is how unsuccessful he was in shaping political opinion and political practice in BC. McDonald charts Tupper's role in BC provincial politics from the early 1900s to the 1920s and explores how his outsider status in BC illuminates key aspects of the province's political culture in the early years of the 20th century.
L.D.: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver by Daniel Francis is reviewed.
Sit Down and Drink Your Beer: Regulating Vancouver's Beer Parlours, 1925-1954 by Robert A. Campbell is reviewed.
"Islands of Truth: The Imperial Fashioning of Vancouver Island," by Daniel W. Clayton, is reviewed.
Ideal Surroundings, 's study of domestic life in a Halifax suburb in the 1920s, fits comfortably into the framework outlined by and : it explores working-class history from the perspective of gender, and it focuses on the home, the family, and the community rather than the workplace. The community that Morton selected is Richmond Heights, a 325-acre section of north Halifax devastated by the Halifax Harbour explosion of 1917 but reconstructed under the direction of the Halifax Relief Commission. The reconstruction offered a unique opportunity to see inside a predominantly working-class suburb through the records generated in the 1920s by the Relief Commission, including documents relating to rental property and pensions. Lacking census manuscript records, Morton also examined the economic and social character of the neighbourhood through an impressive array of other textual sources, ranging from city directories and newspapers to wills and the records of voluntary associations....