Secret Agent No. 50
A Winnipeg General Strike Story.
50 swung his right leg over the left, leaning back to consider the room around him as he drew deeply from his cigarette. The remnants of his meal lay on the table before him, knife and fork placed neatly together on the plate with the serviette resting on top, covering the barely touched meal beneath. The restaurant on the ground level of the three story hotel was dim despite the bright spring light of the early evening. Large windows fronted the brick building and through the stained and warped glass he could see the street outside with its ordinary hustle and bustle. It seemed deceptively calm to him.
The lazy ceiling fan caught his exhalation, collecting it into the overcast smog of cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke. The dim electric lights dangling within the haze flickered. With the strike vote less than two hours old, two days before the strike was to start, it occurred to him that the workers at the city’s powerhouse were already throttling the electrical supply.
“Damn Bolsheviks,” he muttered. Continue reading
Posted in Winnipeg General Strike Stories, Writing
Tagged 1919, Bolshevism, Calgary Conference, Canadian History, Canadian Secret Service, historical fiction, Labour Movement, One Big Union, Prairie History, RCMP, Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Russian Revolution, Science Fiction, Short Fiction, Western Canadian History, Winnipeg General Strike
I gave it five stars on Goodreads because I am glad to have read it. The sketch it provides of a typical Mounted Policeman’s life during a particularly transformative period in the North West and Canada is still useful if historical context and its sources are taken into account.
I was in the midst of finalising a draft of this review, hurrying to make it to the University library where I do volunteer work transcribing oral histories of Alberta’s aviation pioneers. I wanted to make it to meet my partner for coffee while still having a meaningful amount of time for the transcription work before she was off for the day (she works at the University library, we transit home together.) At any rate, I was in a rush wanting to get this review right so I could post it and also in a rush to get to the train. That’s when the dogs started barking. They were outside and I had to let them in. Frustrated, I got up from the computer. I intended to leave the review for the time being and get myself and the beasts sorted so I could leave. I got to the back door and opened the screen, stepping out to call the dogs. Continue reading
The Alberta Legislature was completed between 1907 and 1915. In 1905 Alberta became a Province of Canada and the Legislature building sits a stones throw from the sight of Fort Edmonton, a key Hudson Bay trading post that had occupied several sites since 1795, but which, in 1830, moved to its final spot on a promontory overlooking the North Saskatchewan river. Continue reading
We happened upon this church when driving south from Batoche along highway 225, where it intersects highway 312 just east of the bridge, going from pavement to gravel. Interestingly, the bridge marks the spot where Gabriel Dumont operated a ferry crossing in the years before the resistance, and it is named in his honour. As we finally got close to our destination the church came into view. After a few bends along the country road which follows the line of the South Saskatchewan River, it poked out from the trees reaching into the blue afternoon sky.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site. Summer 2017. Acrylic on panel. 8 5/8″ x 4.25″ (framed).
I believe Canada would look a lot more like South Africa had the numbers been different back at the end of the 19th century. Continue reading
“…the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.”
Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.
Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell, has been called one of “the most personal and directly political” of his writings. It is the memoir of the man behind the pseudonymous Orwell, Eric Arthur Blair, and his time in Spain fighting in the civil war over the course of a critical year. He passes through experiences which would have a profound impact on him and his writing. His travelogue of the revolution and front lines of civil war are mirrored by an inner travelogue which traces the progression of his perspectives under changing circumstances. His time in Spain would refine his socialist tendencies and push him to defend a revolutionary perspective on the conduct of the war. His experience gives him foresight enough to predict the end of the war as it comes to pass in 1939. Paradoxically in later years he would recant his perspectives from those days in Spain, scorning his rationale in a later essay. But In Homage to Catalonia we find Orwell at his most radical, fighting for something and not just against something. Despite his disposition against revolution, and later repudiation of his own revolutionary sympathies at the time, he never attempted to erase his flirtation with revolutionary political thought from his record of the Spanish Civil War. As such Homage to Catalonia is a fascinating memoir that remains controversial to this day.