My Fascination with Canadian History

started in grade 5 with an early survey book, followed in high school with another Social Studies take on CanHis. Then I took a senior course in it at the U of W. So three rounds of foundation and basics.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail–one of many over the years ordered through ABEbooks, my go-to site for anything of consequence and hard-to-get–from around 1910 (yet another official antique–over 100 years-old) entitled Victoria, B.C. The Beautiful City of Western Canada, and it is, still after all these years..
Some 30 pages of photos after the Parliament Buildings and the Empress had been built. Victoria is my favorite go-to city for a quick getaway to a land of harbours, gardens, and quaint culture. I was curious–something which makes life interesting every day for me–to see what the city looked like when it was getting started. Many of the landmarks are familiar, of course, but there are also quaint photos of the Gorge, ships, native peoples, Beacon Hill Park, and even Indian Canoe Races in the harbour by the legislature.

(Government Street–still the main drag of quaint shops)

(above 2 views of the Empress completed about a year before this book was published)

I have similar rare turn-of-the-century books on Winnipeg (my hometown) and Edmonton. (For the record these are one-of-a-kinds worth hundreds of dollars online.) In a sense, I have become a ‘keeper of the past’–a fact borne out by my extensive book collection which features many signed books, many antiques, books by well-known classic American, British, and Canadian authors, as well as film and art books.

I have never forgotten what I learned from hearing Paul Simon’s “I Am a Rock” in 1965 (grade 11): “I have my books and my poetry to protect me”‘ and they long have sustained and inspired my love of literature, reading, history, culture, The Word, poetry, consciousness, great men and women (signed Virginia Woolf, Rachel Carson), Canadiana, Western civilization, and the best that has been written and created by the worlds I am and have been most familiar with.

“I am large…I contain multitudes.”
–Walt Whitman

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