14 February 2018

Writing update

So far I have written over 11,000 words for the rewrite of my section of the Brief History dealing with the Jubilee Riots. There are many problems with writing this piece.  First is that my main sources for information are the newspapers of the period.  I am not alone in this: the only scholarly account of the Riots that I managed to track down also draws almost exclusively on the papers.  Unfortunately, the papers are, all of them, extremely biased and therefore all unreliable as sources of information.  They all say what happened and are mostly consistent, but each paper has some minor variation of details which support their narrative, and therein lies the rub.  The what and the why are inextricably linked, and they disagree widely as to the why of these events.

I am not terribly satisfied with what I have written thus far, but, then again, I never am.  I wanted to my history to be readable- something which most scholarly histories severely lack- but I also want it to be accurate.  My original account was, I have been told, quite readable, but its limitations are becoming more and more apparent to me.  In being longer and more thorough I may have a more accurate history, but if I become too long winded I will sacrifice the readability.  On the other hand, not many will be reading it anyway, so I don't have much to lose.

The experience has had a few lighter moments, though.  In the middle of going through the heavily biased accounts in the old newspapers, I ran into an article in a modern newspaper stating that too many news sources are losing their objectivity and are no longer reporting the news.  I had to laugh- losing their objectivity, you say?  Also, I have just been working on a bit dealing with the meeting of the city council at which the first riot was discussed.  The council hotly debated what to do about the matter, with veiled accusations flying, some councilors grandstanding, words getting more and more heated, until finally a vote is taken, and the council will do... nothing.

Plus ca change, n'est-ce pas?

9 February 2018

Time to start writing

I'm off work today with illness, and I am not fit to do much else, so I decided it's time to start writing, or re-writing, the section of the Brief History dealing with the Jubilee Riots.

I have researched this as best I could, which, paradoxically, makes this a rather difficult chapter to write.  My research has centred on reading the newspapers of the time, of which there are several.  However, each newspaper came with its own point of view, or 'narrative' as we like to say today.  The Mail was a staunch protestant and Orange paper.  They wanted their readers to know that, while the behaviour of the Protestants at the riot was detestable and to be condemned in no uncertain terms, it was the Catholics who started the affair.  The Irish Canadian wanted its readers to know that the whole affair was to be blamed on the Protestants, from first to last. and on them alone.  The Globe takes a surprisingly moderate position, and gives the lion's share of the blame on the Protestants.  Curiously, there are several Letters to the Editor written by Archbishop Lynch posted in The Globe at that time.  Lynch was a reader of the paper.  He does not seem to respond to anything in the other papers.

I found only one scholarly article examining the events of that week, and it basically went over the same material as I did: newspaper reports.  The article uses The Mail as its primary source, with other views thrown in to try and flesh out the details and views.  This makes some sense: The Mail gives the fullest account of the events and spends the most time and column inches on the subject.  They are the ones who, for instance, detail the entire meeting of the Orange Lodge and Young Britons that occurred in the week between the riots.  Their underlying message is that the Lodge is not to be blamed for what happened.  Likewise they give a more full report on the council meeting that happened early in the week which also discussed the question of the first riot, and whether or not the second procession could be stopped.

But The Mail is, as I said, highly prejudiced.  They report events during the riots that no other paper reports, and, again, these events are told to exonerate the Lodge and the Protestants.   Is it possible they made these facts up? Or did the other papers suppress these facts because they did not support their narrative?  And how does one tell the difference, now, long after the events have passed and all witnesses are dead?

In part, I would like to just reprint all the articles from the papers and encourage people to read them and decide for themselves, but it seems highly unlikely anyone would read that.  Of course, my sales for the first part of the brief history was exactly one, so it is highly unlikely anyone would read it one way or the other.  Perhaps I will publish the lot of them as an appendix.

So what to do?  The article I mentioned places the beginning of the riots with an ad for a procession published in the Irish Canadian.  But that is the position of The Mail.  The Globe makes no effort to articulate a beginning, perhaps because they simply did not care what started this affair. The Irish Canadian likewise makes no mention of the ad- that did not sit well with their narrative either.  The Leader  takes a cue from The Mail and mentioned the ad.  But the actions of the rioters don't quite fit that narrative.  On the other hand, a riot is almost by definition an irrational act.  One should not expect it to make sense.  From what I can tell, the ad probably had an effect, but it was more of a last straw than a cause in itself.

And so, time to begin, as soon as I figure out where.

Mūsa, mihī causās memorā, quō nūmine laesō,
quidve dolēns, rēgīna deum tot volvere cāsūs
īnsīgnem pietāte virum, tot adīre labōrēs  
impulerit. Tantaene animīs caelestibus īrae?

Tell me, O Muse, the cause,how she was offended,
how slighted in her divinity, The Queen of Heaven,
to drive a man so marked for piety and virtue
To endure so any trials, so many toils?
Can the most high gods harbour such wrath?

6 February 2018

Anti Catholicism: It's been around a while...

... but it used to be better written.  From the Telegram, a Toronto daily newspaper, September 29, 1876, comes this little gem:

Mr. Buies, the editor of the Reveil, which Archbishop Taschereau has caused to be denounced in all the churches of his diocese for discussing religious questions, has printed a spirited reply to his lordship, which shows that there is at least one Frenchman who does not cower beneath the knotted whip of Ultramontanism. His reply is Frenchy in its tone, but there is a manly outspokenness and grit displayed in it that leads us to hope that the intellectual emancipation of Quebec is not the impossibility it might otherwise seem.

5 February 2018

On the leadership race for the Ontario Provincial Conservatives

So, Caroline Mulroney will be running for the leadership of the Provincial Conservative Party. That's perfect: another over privileged child of a former Prime Minister who believes their first job in politics should be 'leader.' It worked so well last time. What could possibly go wrong? All I can say in her favour is that, unlike Trudeau, this will be her first job in politics, not her first full time job, period.

And her chief opposition so far is... Doug Ford.

So this is the choice for the Tories: drink Kool aid, or drink bleach.

1 February 2018

It seems the senate has approved the change to our national anthem.

The line "In all thy sons command!" has been changed to "In all of us command."

As a singer, and as a student of the English language, I do not care for this change. I don't care for it as a singer because "all of us" is clunky to sing. As a student of English, I don't care for it because it is unpoetic and bland. They could have done better than this. I remember as a child singing the anthem in school we used to sing: "all our hearts command." Better poetry, and more singable. The only argument against what we used to sing back then is that the word 'heart' appears again in the next line, and the repetition is not the best. I still think it is the better change, and serves the same end, if that end needs must be served. The greatest crime in 'all of us' is not that it is gender neutral, but that it is neutral, period.. As Oscar Wilde once said, any style is good, except the boring.

Now, how long before someone decides to get rid of "God keep our land"?

31 January 2018

Bell Mental Health Day

So, today is Bell's 'let's talk' about mental health day. That is a good thing, I suppose. All too often the people who suffer from mental health issues are forced to do so in silence and shame. That stigma should be lifted, and a light should be shone into the dark places.

Having said that, I would like to decline entering that conversation. I am surrounded by people with these issues. I even have a few myself.  From my waking to my going to bed, I must be cognizant of these issues. They are in ...my first thoughts upon awakening, and the last thoughts before I lay me down. Dedicate one day to them, you ask? They consume my life.

It is like what I said when my inbox was flooded with memes and such about 'autism awareness day': there is no need to try and increase my awareness of it. I am aware of it, and will be aware of it until my death. What I wish for is an autism, and a mental health, unawareness day. A day where I don't have to think or talk about these things. Can a company out there sponsor such a day, or a government declare one such day out of the year?

30 January 2018

Another one of my pieces

St Michael, based off a stained glass window in St. Patrick's Basilica, Montreal.