When we met in Kingston, Hugh Ostrom, the manager responsible for Bellevue House, said the commission’s report influenced how the site now tells Macdonald’s story. He and another Parks Canada official went to Washington to see how historic sites and museums there deal with issues like George Washington’s slave ownership.
“Sir John A. Macdonald is a well-known character, but we really needed to have a more interesting conversation about his legacy,” Mr. Ostrom said. “We were given an opportunity to share a more meaningful story for all Canadians and not just the old high-school history lesson.”
The most obvious results are two timelines in different colors that zigzag around three walls of the visitor center. One offers a history of Macdonald and the system of government he helped create. The other band designates the times Canada fell terribly short of its ideals, like the internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II.
An adjacent room presents a small but impressive display of contemporary indigenous art, including Kent Monkman’s study for “The Scream,” a kinetic portrayal of Mounties, priests and nuns snatching children from their parents on a reserve to be taken to the government’s residential schools.
Read: Canada, Too, Faces a Reckoning With History and Racism
Stuck in the Station
Churchill, Manitoba, is to polar bears as Kingston is to Macdonald.
But the 1,056 miles of railway that are its only land link to the south washed out in several places in May, and there is no obvious sign it will be repaired.
Our Toronto bureau chief, Catherine Porter, and the photographer Ian Willms took a plane to Churchill to assess the effects of the cutoff, which has driven up prices in the community and had other unwelcome effects. I asked her about the trip:
A huge sign greets you at the airport: “Welcome to Churchill, Manitoba: Polar Bear Country.” It lists the dos and don’ts: always be alert, and never walk after 10 p.m., for example.
Polar-bear warning signs dot the town’s edges and flash from most store windows. An eerie siren sounds every night as a reminder that it is time to get out of claw’s way.
Almost every discussion I had with residents included bears.
“Polar bears are why the town is here,” said Paul Ratson, a local nature guide.
While Churchill was once a Hudson Bay post, a port and a military town, it now largely relies on tourism to survive. And most of the tourists come during polar bear season: six weeks, starting in the middle of October, when polar bears are most likely to be seen around town, waiting for the sea ice to bump against the shore so they can rush off in search of seals.
The town’s population, normally 900, grows, with tour operators moving in to work seven days a week. Mr. Ratson said he makes 60 percent of his income during those six weeks.
So the big question on most minds was: Would the broken train line affect polar bear season? If Churchill was hobbling now, that would sound its death knell.
Most tour operators I spoke to remained confident it would not. Merv Gunter, the founder of Frontiers North Adventures, said tourists paid up to 11,000 Canadian dollars ($8,744) for a four-day polar bear package and booked a year and a half in advance. A bump in food prices would not deter those tourists.
The Tundra Inn owner Belinda Fitzpatrick agreed. While she had lost 30 percent of her summer bookings, she was not expecting any cancellations in October. “There are no independent tourists in bear season,” she said. “They all fly in.”
Be sure to join Ms. Porter on a dog-sled ride near Churchill through her 360 Video. A link is embedded in her article.
Read: Canadian Town, Isolated After Losing Rail Link, ‘Feels Held Hostage’
View: Suddenly Isolated, a Canadian Town Struggles
The Times Book Review sat down with Louise Penny, author of the crime novels featuring Armand Gamache, a police inspector in a fictional town in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The interview produced some surprises, at least for me. Ms. Penny, it seems, is a proud fan of “Star Trek” fan fiction.
Read: Louise Penny: By the Book
Watching, The Times’s guide to screen life, has published its September recommendations for Netflix users in Canada. It is United States trauma month: parental separation in Brooklyn in “The Squid and the Whale,” suburban Connecticut families facing societal upheaval in “The Ice Storm” and the Vietnam War in “The Deer Hunter.”
Read: The Best Movies and TV Shows New on Netflix Canada in September
Creatures Big and Small
Mountain caribou are endangered in southern British Columbia. Wolves are their main predator. A study led by Robert Serrouya, a biologist with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, has found an unexpected way to keep the two species in balance: moose hunting.
Solutions are less obvious for a threat to pine forests in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Warmer winters are allowing the southern pine beetle to move north and flourish. Scientists warn that the effects of its arrival may be as devastating as the ravaging of forests in British Columbia and Alberta by mountain pine beetles.
Read: Hunting Moose in Canada to Save Caribou From Wolves
Read: Tree-Eating Beetles March Northward, Lured by Milder Winters
More than a decade ago, I worked with Clifford Krauss when he was The Times’s Toronto bureau chief. He moved from there to Houston to report on the energy industry, a topic which we still collaborate on.
But this week during Hurricane Harvey, Mr. Krauss found himself writing about how he and his family salvaged what they could as water poured into their house and over their cars before they took shelter on the second floor.
On Friday, Mr. Krauss said that he and his family were well and staying with friends in Houston. The ground floor of their house will need to be gutted and renovated.
The Times is devoting extensive resources to covering Harvey and its aftermath. Particularly stunning to me is this photo gallery.
Read: A Reporter’s Tale in Houston: When a Story Becomes Your Own Disaster
View: Harvey in Pictures
—During the decade or so Sandra Caldwell lived in Toronto, she found success on the stage. But she also had a secret that put her life into turmoil. Now 65, Ms. Caldwell has revealed that she is transgender, in connection with taking on a role in New York based on the real life story of a transgender teacher.
—Starting this week Canadians who do not identify as male or female are permitted to identify their sex on their passports as “X.”
—The passage of a Russian tanker holding liquefied natural gas through Arctic waters without an icebreaker escort led the editorial board of The Times to warn Arctic nations, including Canada, about the dangers of increased economic activity in that delicate environment.
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