Friday, November 30, 2012

French Kissed

French map of Acadia (now Nova Scotia)
French map of Acadia (now Nova Scotia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 While the French were chasing our beavers, the English,

the Scots and even the Dutch were starting to cast lustful eyes at our fish.

And because it teemed with beavers and fish, everybody was
suddenly hot for the area we would now loosely identify as Nova Scotia.

Settled by the French in the early 1600s it was called Acadia. 

It actually became a Scottish settlement for awhile after 1621. 

And that excited the British no end and got them so puffed up
with testosterone that they sailed down the St. Lawrence in 1629
and captured Quebec City.

Stiff upper lips must have twitched three years later at the end
of the 30 years war when Quebec and Acadia were returned to France.

Fish, meanwhile, had become the Prince William/Kate Middleton
of the late 17th century.

Nobody could get enough of them.

And nobody wanted to share. 

With noses severely out of joint over fishing rights taken by the Acadians,
a military contingent from New England, marched north and took Acadia once
more for the English king in 1690.

But the British couldn't seem to win.

Acadia was returned to France again seven years later at the end of another

one of Europe's endless wars.

But by then it was the beginning of the 18th century.

(insert rousing chorus of Rule Britannia)

And the tide was about to turn.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Big Trouble at the Fort

English: Historic HBC buildings and cemetery i...
English: Historic HBC buildings and cemetery in Centennial Park, Moose Factory, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okey dokey. It's the middle of the 17th century.

France is involved in the 30 years war which continues to rage in Europe and not-so-jolly-old England is in the midst of a bloody civil war.
Meanwhile back at the ranch in North America things are progressing as if they can't hear the screams.


The French have become quite comfortable in their little love nest on the St. Lawrence and are now expanding south.
They reach the Mississippi about 1682 and claim it for France.

The rescals also venture north into territory claimed by the English king, (before his own people cut his head off).

And even though the Brits had kept it hidden for so long Radison and Grossliers found Hudson's Bay in 1661.

So it shouldn't be a surprise,
(although I would have been surprised to see armed French troops marching across the tundra),
to learn that in 1686 they caught the British by surprise at the Moose Factory Hudson's Bay Trading Post.

And that day, my friends, when the English surrendered, was when the shit hit the Canadian fan, our troubles started.

This is the 6th blog in my series, 'Canadian history as I see it'.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Tweets From the British

Henry IV, King of France in Armour, c. 1610 (L...
Henry IV, King of France in Armour, c. 1610 (Louvre) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I've finished four small blogs on Canadian history and I'm embarrassed to tell you how much I don't know, or if I knew it once, how much I have forgotten.

The first thing I've been wondering about is the valiant British explorers that we learned about in elementary school. 

Where the heck are they? 

I remember thrilling to the exploits of Thompson, Mackenzie, Fraser, Vancouver, etc. - the giants who explored and mapped the North American continent.

But as I worked through the time period from 1497 to the mid 1600s I began to think they'd frozen their laptops in Hudson's Bay because I wasn't getting many tweets from them.

Then I began to suspect that the timeline I was using had a French bias so, although I had originally decided not to, I looked ahead.

And much to my embarrassment I learned that all of those explorers came much later, near the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century.

And once I had peeked ahead the second thought that has stayed with me was how much we, i.e., the English, the French, the Canadians, the Americans, are all interconnected.

Third, I have to warn you that the demise of the Indian nations is interwoven like a bloody thread all the way down our historical timeline.


Anyway things are about to heat up. 

The French King granted a North American fur trading monopoly to the French in 1600. 

The English have given up on finding a north-west passage, (for now), and their king has granted THEM a North American fur trading monopoly.

Uh oh ...

Somebody's got some 'splainin' to do.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

David Niven and the Search for the North-west Passage

Cropped screenshot of David Niven from the tra...
Cropped screenshot of David Niven from the trailer for the film The Toast of New Orleans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although they were supposedly still looking for a route to the Orient by travelling down the St. Lawrence and into the Great Lakes, the truth is that the French were so enamoured of their new land that by 1611 the Jesuits had set up shop.

They were quickly followed by the first settlers.

Many babies later New France was thriving.


If the British were having sex and making babies in those days it wasn't happening in the New World.

They were too busy channeling their inner David Niven.

Against all odds, (and all reason), they continued to search for a north-west passage to China.


Talk about British bull doggedness in the face of impossible odds ...  


Anyway, while all of this activity was happening on our side of the ocean, Europe was self-destructing.

The 30 Years War, (1618-1648), which pitted Catholics against Protestants, raged on, with a particularly nasty stretch fought at sea after 1629 between Britain and France.

In 1631, when it was safe to venture out on the water again there were two more voyages to search for the north-west passage. 
They were so terrible that no more attempts were made for 100 years.

Britain had other royal fish to fry, er, behead anyway.




Enhanced by ZemantaThis is the 4th in my series of blogs called, 'Canadian history as I see it.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Father of Hundreds Takes 12 Year Old Bride

Samuel_de_Champlain (1567-1635), probably afte...
Samuel_de_Champlain (1567-1635), probably after a portrait by Moncornet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samuel de Champlain was the Father of New France.

Figuratively speaking.

 Literally he never comingled with a female person to produce an offspring.

But he really did marry a twelve year old girl.

 When he was forty-three.


 She was very rich and her name was Hélène Boullé.

 He  managed to entice her to join him in the New world; even named Isle Ste Hélène in the St. Lawrence River for her.  

 But  Paris was evidently preferable to Quebec City in the early 1600s and it wasn't long before the lonely, pampered teenager returned home.

 Where she eventually joined a convent.


 Unlucky in love, Champlain didn't pick his friends wisely either.

 In 1616 he threw his lot in with the ill-fated Hurons who convinced him to support them in their war with the other Iroquois tribes.
And he pretty well cooked the French goose when he killed two Iroquois chiefs during one of his explorations to the Great Lakes while his men killed a third.

It seems the writing was already on the wall by then and it wasn't in English.


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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Martin Frobisher Had Cold Man Parts

English: Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Kete...
English: Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Ketel, circa 1577. Frobisher wears a jerkin closed only at the neck over a peascod-bellied doublet. Français : Martin Frobisher par Cornelis Ketel, vers 1577 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second in a series of blogs called, "Canadian History as I see it".
In the late 1500s the English and the French were obsessed with getting to the Orient by water to plunder, pillage and rape  trade for gold and spices. 

Unfortunately North America was in the way.

The difference seems to be that the French 'got' the new World long before the English did.

While Martin Frobisher and John Davis were freezing their man parts in the Arctic and looking for a north-west passage to Asia, the French were moving into the much more hospitable St. Lawrence Lowlands.

They were also starting to eyeball all of those sassy Canadian beavers.
They knew a good thing when they saw it.

 And so did their king.

In 1600 Henry IV of France granted the first North American fur trading monopoly and by 1608 Samuel de Champlain had founded Quebec City!


Meanwhile the Brits were still keeping their man parts on ice.

In 1610, Henry Hudson and his band of unmerry men sailed into the frigid waters of Hudsons Bay.

And as you know, Henry Hudson did not come sailing out again.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Cabot and Cartier, You Shoulda Tidied Up

Project.Flickr - Strangers up close - John Cabot
Project.Flickr - Strangers up close - John Cabot (Photo credit: Kieren P)

English Canada isn't 'English' the way French Canada is French and it never really was.

Even the first 'Anglo' who stepped ashore, i.e., John Cabot, was actually an Italian named Zuan Chabotto.

But the Italian House of Medici was more interested in having sex and making poison than in conquering new worlds so Cabot claimed Newfoundland and/or Cape Breton Island for Henry VII of England on June 24, 1497.

Thirty-seven years after Cabot disappeared, probably somewhere in the mid Atlantic, Jacques Cartier swanned into town and rudely claimed the New World for France without even a tip of his chapeau to England.

 Arrogant French Johnny-Come-Latelies?

 Disinterested, slow-to-recognize-a-good-thing-when-they-see-it English?

It doesn't matter now. 

The French and the English went home long ago.

But, boy, did they leave a mess behind them!




In this series of blogs I want to take a look at the struggle that went into building this big, beautiful, ungainly, polite, self-destructive, honourable, loyal, courageous, sparsely populated, welcoming, unwelcoming, unique, (feel free to add your own adjectives), country called Canada. 

I have no plans or timeline, (bloggers are so free), it will just be a commentary on our history the way I see it and I guess it will appear when I feel like it. 












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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Separatists Wore me Down

The Separatists wore me down.
I remember what a jolt it was the day after the first Referendum
when the sun came up. 
I hadn't paid any attention to anything except Quebec in such a long time
 that it
was a surprise to see that everything was so ordinary.
The Federalists had won, narrowly.
The next Referendum caused anxiety but also a rising anger.   
And since that time I have  just become more and more tired of the news
coming out of Quebec. The language laws,
the return of the Parti Quebecois
and the threat of another referendum.
"If they want to go, they should go. 
In this day and age we can survive without them," I reasoned.
I was just tired, tired, tired of it all.
Then I went to Ottawa for the Remembrance Day week-end.

In Ottawa I saw some of the things that bind us together.
A man carrying a flag on Parliament Hill.
A veteran.

Our connections with each other and with our history.
Canadian recruits at the War Museum.

Standing in the crowd, shoulder to shoulder with other Canadians. 
Our connection with Britain and the Commomwealth.
Sculpture at the Museum of Civilization.
 No one could walk through the Museum of Civilization,
(Museum of Canadian History), and the National War Museum
and not feel that the country must be preserved.

A child getting ready to throw a coin into the Centennial Flame,
Parliament Hill.
 For her.
And for all of us.

A man warms his hands at the Centennial Flame.
 Built in 1967 to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday.

 Each generation has had its struggle, its burden. 
Ours has been to keep the country together.

I won't let them wear me down again. 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bell, The Company I Love To Hate

English: SVG version of the new Bell Canada lo...
English: SVG version of the new Bell Canada logo as of 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went down to the local mall a few days ago looking for a winter hat.

On my way back to the spy car I passed the Bell Canada store.

"I'll just go in and browse," I thought.

As soon as I stepped through the door Handsomeyoungman made a bee line for me.

"Oh," I trilled and blushed at all this masculine attention, "I don't NEED a smart phone, I was just curious about them"

Well, within minutes, Hansomeyoungman had me outfitted with a new smart phone that did everything but the kitchen dishes.
And all for only $10 more a month than I'm paying now.

"Wow!" I breathed, staring up at him in admiration.

Then I thought for a minute. "Hmmm. Are you sure you can switch me over from Bell Mobility? I might still have a contract with them"

"No problem," said Handsomeyoungman, (and this is a direct quote), "We're just one big happy family."


But my Bell Mobility cell phone, for some inexplicable reason,  is registered in my late father's name.

"Pardon?" I said when he told me. "My father was almost 90.  He didn't have a cell phone.  He didn't know how to use one. And the payment comes directly out of my account.  How could this happen?"

"Well, we can't explain these things and we can't help you until you bring us a death certificate," said Handsomeyoungman's supervisor who had joined us.

"I gave you a death certificate when I cancelled his land line last year," I pointed out.

"Well I can't be expected to remember that," she huffed. "Maybe if it had been last week ..." she was getting into deep water and her voice trailed off. 

She looked around for someone less troublesome to whom she could sell a phone.

"Are you telling me that in this day and age, Bell Canada cannot check its records and then get on the phone and call Bell Mobility?"

By this time I was standing in the middle of the store totally outraged.  My face was as red as my jacket.
I hadn't wanted a phone when I went in, but things were different now that I knew I couldn't have one.

It was a Mexican standoff between two middle aged Canadian ladies.

Handsomeyoungman was on the side lines wringing his hands.

"That's what I'm telling you. We are two completely separate companies!

And with that, she walked to the back room and shut the door.

Anyway I started this blog by mentioning that I was in the mall looking for a hat.  I was looking for a hat because I'm going to Ottawa for a few days for the national Remembrance Day Ceremony with some family members. 

Watch for me on TV!

I'll be the only one in the crowd without a smart phone.

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