Insightful Biography | HBC’s Workforce | Military in Newfoundland | Reconciling the Indian Act

Note the item below related to Royal Newfoundland Companies in this month’s mailing about Canada’s History magazine.

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” — Henry Ward Beecher
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Canada's History Reading Den

Riel in context

In the February-March 2020 issue of Canada’s History magazine, Jean Teillet, an Indigenous-rights lawyer and the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, writes about a book she calls “the most insightful biography of Louis Riel to date.”

Teillet says that in The Audacity of His Enterprise: Louis Riel and the Métis Nation That Canada Never Was, 1840–1875 Max Hamon offers a new understanding of the Métis leader. In particular, she says, Hamon provides context for Riel’s departure from his program of education and demonstrates the importance of his “extensive networking, particularly during the critical period of 1872–74.”

In the same issue, former Canadian Historical Association president Lyle Dick reviews The Rise and Fall of United Grain Growers: Cooperatives, Market Regulation, and Free Enterprise, by Paul D. Earl. “Earl traces the history of the Winnipeg-based cooperative grain marketing company from its origins in 1906 to its fall in a corporate takeover a hundred years later,” Dick writes.

Toronto teacher, writer, and editor Bill Moreau reviews Master and Servants: The Hudson’s Bay Company and Its North American Workforce, 1668–1786, by Scott P. Stephen. Moreau says Stephen argues that “HBC posts were really an extension of early modern Britain … and are best understood as microcosms of that strictly hierarchical society.”

Meanwhile, Governor General’s History Award-winning teacher Connie Wyatt Anderson considers two books about the meanings and impacts of the Indian Act for Indigenous peoples in Canada: 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality, by Bob Joseph, and Talking Back to the Indian Act: Critical Readings in Settler Colonial Histories, by Mary-Ellen Kelm and Keith D. Smith.

Wyatt Anderson says “the first step towards reconciliation is dispelling errors by filling the gaps in our knowledge that have been left by our history education” — and she finds that both books contribute to this objective. “Joseph approaches the task using a conversational tone, highlighting twenty-one restrictions imposed at some point by the Indian Act in its 144 years of existence, while Kelm and Smith provide a critical-thinking framework to analyze a collection of historical extracts pulled from or related to the Indian Act.”

Also in this issue, we look at books about the Sierra Club in British Columbia, African-Nova Scotian writer and activist Rose Fortune, a nineteenth-century murder in rural Canada, and New Brunswick’s wealthy Irving family.

As always, our book reviews can be found both in Canada’s History magazine and on our website.

Military impact

Recipients of the Reading Den are automatically entered to win one of three copies of The Invisibles: A History of the Royal Newfoundland Companies, by James E. Candow, courtesy of Breakwater Books. Candow looks at the role played by the British military in the nineteenth century as residents of the Newfoundland colony sought to control their own fate.

Cover of Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray
Top 10 Bestsellers

  1. Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death
  2. Strangers in the House: A Prairie Story
  3. The Audacity of His Enterprise: Louis Riel
  4. Boom & Bust: Women of Telegraph Cove
  5. War: How Conflict Shaped Us
  6. The Company: The Rise and Fall of the Hudson’s Bay Empire
  7. Ridgerunner (historical fiction)
  8. The Forgotten Daughter: A Novel
  9. The Missing Millionaire
  10. First Century of the International Joint Commission
Cover of the February-March 2021 issue featuring Banting and Best.
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Illustration of people holding hands standing around a tree.

In our latest issue of Kayak, author-illustrator Sara General tells the story of how a boy brought peace to nations. Read the story

Illustration of a limber pine by Megan Wiebe.
What the old tree has seen

In this fictional Kayak story, an ancient pine remembers. The story is based on one of the oldest trees in Canada, estimated to be over 3,000 years old. Read the story

Canada’s History Archive featuring The Beaver

Please note: Some items featured in our newsletters and social media will include links to the Canada’s History Archive. The Beaver magazine was founded, and for decades was published, during eras shaped by colonialism. Concepts such as racial, cultural, or gender equality were rarely, if ever, considered by the magazine or its contributors. In earlier issues, readers will find comments and terms now considered to be derogatory. Canada’s History Society cautions readers to explore the archive using historical thinking concepts — not only analyzing the content but asking questions of who shaped the content and why.
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