Tag Archives: Canada

In which berries abound!

24 Sep

Blueberries are apparently “mostly” native to North America, but I can’t figure out where else they might be native to from any Serious Historical Research (read: poking around on the Internet for awhile). They were apparently introduced to Europe, but that was in the 1930s, and Australia and New Zealand (1950s, and not successfully until the 1970s). They grow in South America, but my Serious Historical Research has not, thus far, yielded any results as to the history of their cultivation there, apart from Chile, where they were introduced in the 1980s. And in 1996 they were adopted as the official berry as Nova Scotia (as of 2008, they were Canada’s #1 fruit export)! But nothing more about South America. I am sorry for failing you, my friends. :(

I can tell you, however, that they were referred to as “skycolored berries” in colonial America, which is a fact that’s been floating around in my head for a few weeks now, and which delights me for reasons I cannot possibly figure out. Not gonna lie, I was mostly building towards that, and I felt like that wasn’t fact enough to support its own post. Whatever whatever. They were also frequently mistaken for the bilberry, which was native to England, and so were sometimes referred to as “skycolored bilberries”! In 1672, at least, they were frequently eaten dried, having been bought that way from the Indians, according to John Josselyn in his New England’s Rarities. Sad truth: I am not being sarcastic when I say that I think that’s pretty cool.

Bold General Wolfe to his men did say

19 Feb

So apparently several of my friends associate me with the French and Indian War, and now seems as good a time as any to explain what the deal with me and the French and Indian War is. I have no idea where my fascination with this war (well, the Seven Years’ War as a whole, but the French-Indian War, the North American front of it, in particular) came from. Well, I kind of do, actually: my mother and I were out for a walk one day, four or five years back, and we started talking about how there’s nothing on it, basically, especially outside of academia (and even academia doesn’t have much). There’s Last of the Mohicans, and that’s pretty much it.

Even non-fiction, it’s pretty much just Fred Anderson and a couple of other works (Crucible of War is fantastic, obviously, as is, more recently, 1759, which isn’t about the war in particular, but does feature a great deal on it). A lot of my research was done completely on my own, and what I started to realize was that there’s just so much in modern history that can be traced to this, this war and this period in general. It was the first real “world war” in modern history, with all the powers of Europe getting involved—it was what really firmly established the British Empire as the dominant power in the world, in the end—and the seeds being sown for a lot of wars to come, as well as a great deal of social conflict: the British occupation of India really started with the Seven Years’ War. One of the reasons Napoleon fought England so hard in India was that he was trying to get back territory the British had taken, to make up for the humiliations the French suffered in their defeat by the British. The French loss meant that their national debt was monstrous, and thirty-odd years later that all blew up, or perhaps I should say it came to a head. OH HO HO HO, I DID IN FACT GO THERE, MY FRIENDS.

American-Canadian shared history, there’s so much that originates here, not just factually but culturally as well, and for each country on its own in addition to our shared history. So much of what America was fighting in the Revolution was stuff that came to a head during, or as a result of, this war: the massive taxes Britain had to levy to pay the massive debts incurred by the war, as by any war, for instance (and the French debts, leading to the French Revolution)—and during the war, there was this increasing sense of the cultural differences between England and America, that the massive space between them wasn’t just geographical anymore. Even the so-called “American” units in the British Army were generally made up of recent European immigrants, or even just straight Europeans, without bothering with the middleman.

MAN IDEK. Now I’m in the mood to dig out my books and start :D-ing over them and forcing fascinating tidbits of information on you all. Fine young dandies dying heroic deaths (OH GENERAL WOLFE)! Hot young George Washington being the only competent person around at the Monongahela campaign, and getting butthurt that no one would listen to him (SPOILER ALERT: he got his comeuppance, oh yes he did)! Basically the moment I fully appreciated how sad I was was when Kate Beaton did a comic about the Plains of Abraham and made some comment about obscure Canadian history that no one was going to care about, or something along those lines, and I was like “man, when it’s only you and Kate Beaton who care, you know you’re in trouble”.  WHATEVER, IT’S WORTH IT.

There is also a statue of him at the universitaire de Saint-Boniface where he looks like he’s melting. Robert E. Lee never got one of those.

17 Feb

I know so many people from Winnipeg. Like, for every Canadian I meet online, there seems to be a 50% chance that they’ll be from Winnipeg. Anyway, earlier I mentioned how being from Virginia, I’m sort of obligated to note that it’s Presidents’ Day, so in honor of those stalwart Manitobans among my acquaintance, I note that it’s also Louis Riel Day. Or was. Technically it still is in some time zones! :D?

I was actually unaware of Louis Riel before, but now that I have done some research he sounds like a pretty cool dude! I use cool in the slang sense, not just the sense of meaning “cold”, which I’m sure he was that as well, because he was from Manitoba and it seems to get pretty fucking cold there, plus he spent some time in the northern US, where it also gets pretty cold. “Cool” is also sort of an understatement there, because holy wow, this dude was interesting.

I’ll be honest: most of my Canadian history knowledge pretty much stops after the French and Indian War, because I have this weird thing about the French and Indian War. But Louis Riel makes me wish I knew more about it, because talk about your badass folk heroes, man, holy crap! He was elected to the House of Commons while in exile in America! Three times! I don’t know if even Barack Obama could manage that.

He is also quite a tragic figure, and let me tell you, dudes, I love tragic historical figures. I am trying not to let Robert E. Lee derail this post, because I will yammer enough about Virginia and I have not gotten nearly enough about Louis Riel in my life, CLEARLY, but man. I think me and my Manitoban friends need to have a Tragic Historical Figures Of Our Home Region baseball card swap, is what I think my final point here is.