Canada's History

Alone to­gether

- Halifax Regional Municipality · Zoom Video Communications · Blue Rodeo · Blue Rodeo · Rodeo · The Northern Pikes · Stan Rogers · John Franklin

It seems like a life­time ago, but I once played bass for a Hal­i­fax cover band. We played tunes by Cana­dian acts like Blue Rodeo and the North­ern Pikes but also cov­ered some clas­sics, in­clud­ing an a cap­pella ver­sion of Stan Rogers’ “North­west Pas­sage.”

I cer­tainly wasn’t in the band for my dul­cet singing voice, so our lead vo­cal­ist as­signed me a low- end har­mony part; in ret­ro­spect, I likely sounded like a bro­ken didgeri­doo.

In the en­su­ing decades I’ve for­got­ten the verses, but the cho­rus still comes in­stantly to mind:

Ah, for just one time I would take the North­west Pas­sage

To find the hand of Franklin reach­ing for the Beau­fort Sea;

Trac­ing one warm line through a land so wild and sav­age

And make a North­west Pas­sage to the sea.

I re­cently caught my­self hum­ming Rogers’ song as I edited this is­sue’s story on the doomed Franklin ex­pe­di­tion. Writer Ken McGoogan be­lieves that we will soon dis­cover what ac­tu­ally killed many mem­bers of Sir John Franklin’s crew — but you’ll have to read “Solv­ing the Franklin Mys­tery” to learn his the­ory.

Else­where in this is­sue, we ex­am­ine how Canada was for­ever changed by the Sec­ond World War, and re­count the tale of a Vic­to­ria par­rot who fought the forces of progress — and won.

As I write this note, prov­inces are tak­ing steps to open up their economies and their so­ci­eties af­ter weeks of COVID-19-in­duced iso­la­tion.

In­deed, much of the mag­a­zine you’re read­ing to­day was cre­ated by the Canada’s His­tory team while work­ing from home. Through­out the pan­demic, ed­i­tors and de­sign­ers have col­lab­o­rated via tele­con­fer­ence and email from makeshift of­fices in their kitchens and liv­ing rooms.

We’re lucky — our iso­la­tion was rel­a­tive. The Franklin ex­pe­di­tion’s was literal: two ships worth of of­fi­cers and crew be­came trapped in Arc­tic ice and lan­guished there for more than a year and a half be­fore suc­cumb­ing to dis­ease, cold, and star­va­tion.

There were no Zoom calls or smart­phones in the 1840s. Those poor souls spent two hellish win­ters liv­ing in the bow­els of their ships, wait­ing for help that never came, be­fore start­ing a death march south that ended in ruin. Now that’s iso­la­tion.

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 ??  ?? Ex­plor­ers find the re­mains of Franklin ex­pe­di­tion crew in this 1860 en­grav­ing that ap­peared in the Ger­man mag­a­zine Die Garten­laube.
Ex­plor­ers find the re­mains of Franklin ex­pe­di­tion crew in this 1860 en­grav­ing that ap­peared in the Ger­man mag­a­zine Die Garten­laube.
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