August 12, 2011

Canada's version of John Adams

I've spent a goodly chunk of my vacation with John Adams. That's not some visiting relative who won't leave, but the HBO series on the second U.S. president. It's been running on Canada's History channel for the past five weeks, and I've been taping it in anticipation of having the time to sit down and watch it in an extended stretch.

I am untroubled by the fact the series debuted in 2008; after all, the basic facts of the remarkable story have not changed in the 185 years since Adams died (on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the same day as Thomas Jefferson passed — but I guess all Americans know this).

Having spent so much time watching Paul Giamatti and cast sweat through 50 of the formative years of the USA in powdered wigs and heavy wool frocks, I am left with several thoughts. One is how well the series succeeds in capturing the human drama of the American uprising against the British and the creation of a new country. That's probably a tribute to how well the producers adapted the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by David McCullough.

I'm also left thinking who might be the Canadian equivalent of John Adams, an individual who had a crucial role in the creation of his country and without whom things could have gone badly, very differently — or nowhere.

Of course the circumstances leading to the creation of each country are quite distinct, but the key common denominator is that both colonial entities had to find a way to shake off the Brits. Adams and company did so with a unilateral declaration of independence backed by a willingness to shed blood.

British North Americans, by contrast, had to wheedle and wangle their way out of the British grip, and, we should note, the job remains unfinished since Elizabeth 2 is still constitutionally queen of Canada.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Dr. Phil's election prescription Philippe Couillard is a brain surgeon, not a psychiatrist, so his expertise is not necessarily understanding the collective mind of Quebecers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Party's charter flight to majority

    It's not surprising the political maneuvering in recent weeks in Quebec City has been dubbed the "winter games," writes Canadian columnist Peter Black

    February 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Joe Ryan's mountain vision

    Eventually someone surely would have taken the initiative to turn what the Algonquins called Manitonga Soutana and the locals called Mont Tremblant into a popular outdoor recreational destination, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    February 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Montreal's Genie on the courts

    In a land where raquettes de neige (snowshoes) are more popular than raquets (tennis), a young Canadian with classic California surfer girl looks is turning heads on the court.

    January 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Columnist's Canada in 1954

    I will depart from my usual discreet journalistic anonymity just this once and offer a few personal reflections on my life as a Canadian, writes columnist Peter Black.

    January 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • peter_black.jpg Prime minister's hockey history

    By my count, President Barack Obama has written three books under his own pen, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    December 27, 2013 1 Photo

  • peter_black.jpg Quebec City displays Holy Door

    It's the first and only such thing in North America: a Holy Door, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    December 13, 2013 1 Photo