New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Fathers of Confederation: Charles Fisher

Charles Fisher

Charles Fisher

I have revised and expanded the Canadian Encyclopedia’s article on Charles Fisher, one of the Fathers of Canadian Confederation from the province of New Brunswick. Fisher led the first responsible government in New Brunswick (1854–61) and was the leading constitutional lawyer of his day. He attended the Québec and London Confederation conferences and contributed to the drafting of the British North America Act (1867) as New Brunswick’s attorney general.

Click here to read the article on Charles Fisher in the Canadian Encyclopedia

My interview with CBC Radio The Sunday Edition “Happy Birthday, Magna Carta” is now online

king-john-signs-the-magna-carta-june-15-1215If you are unable to tune into CBC Radio for The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright on March 8, my interview “Happy Birthday, Magna Carta” is now available online. The interview covers a variety of topics including the origins of Magna Carta as an agreement between King John and his rebel barons, the legal precedents set by Magna Carta (including women’s rights) and my forthcoming book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, which will be published by Dundurn Press in May 2015.

Click here to listen to “Happy Birthday, Magna Carta” on CBC Radio

Upcoming Interview on CBC Radio: The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright

I will be discussing my forthcoming book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, and the Magna Carta Canada 2015 touring exhibition on The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright this weekend (March 8). The interview will air in the second hour, around 10:30am ET and will also be available on the CBC radio site.

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: Fathers of Confederation: Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché

Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché

Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché

I am currently expanding and revising a series of Canadian Encyclopedia articles on the Fathers of Confederation in preparation for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Here’s the new article about Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché. He was a member of every government of the United Province of Canada between 1848 and 1857, including two coalitions with John A. Macdonald. He presided over the 1864 Québec Conference and defended the 72 Resolutions that determined the shape of Confederation in 1867.

Click here to read the article on Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché in the Canadian Encyclopedia

New cover design for my forthcoming book: Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada

Magna Carta cover My forthcoming book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights has a new cover design! The new cover features one of the original thirteenth century versions of Magna Carta and an illuminated manuscript image of King John hunting a stag with hounds.

The book launches on May 5, 2015.

In Canada,  Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada is available for pre-order on amazon.ca The book is also available for pre-order at Indigo and directly from Dundurn Press

In the USA, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada is available for pre-order on amazon.com

In the UK, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada is available for pre-order at amazon.co.uk

New Canadian Encyclopedia Article: The St. George’s Society of Toronto

Saint George, England's patron saint, slaying a dragon

Saint George, England’s patron saint, slaying a dragon

My latest article in the Historica Canada Canadian Encyclopedia is about The St. George’s Society of Toronto.

Founded in 1834, the St. George’s Society of Toronto is one of Canada’s oldest philanthropic organizations. The Society was created to assist English and Welsh immigrants, and promote patriotism among English Canadians. Today, the Society has three $1-million endowments and gifts, and makes annual donations to more than 20 charitable causes.

Click here to read the full article about The St George’s Society of Toronto in the Canadian Encyclopedia

Hello! Canada Interview: “Fabulous at 50: Sophie of Wessex”

The Earl and Countess of Wessex in Ottawa on September 12, 2012 Photo Credit: Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY

The Earl and Countess of Wessex in Ottawa on September 12, 2012 Photo Credit: Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY

The Countess of Wessex turned 50 on January 20, 2015. I discussed her philanthropy and royal duties with Hello Canada! in “Fabulous at 50: Sophie of Wessex.” The Earl and Countess of Wessex undertake a full schedule of royal engagements  including overseas tours. They visit Canada almost every year.

Click here to read Fabulous at 50: Sophie of Wessex in Hello! Canada

CBC News Interview: Why Buckingham Palace is defending Prince Andrew so stoutly

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York

In my interview with CBC.ca this week, I discuss the recent allegations concerning the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, and Buckingham Palace’s response to this situation. I also talk about the Prince’s reputation. Other junior members of the royal family, such as Andrew’s siblings, Princess Anne and Prince Edward are closely identified with their charity work. In contrast, Prince Andrew’s philanthropy has been overshadowed in the public imagination by his reputation for extravagance.

Click here to read “Why Buckingham Palace is defending Andrew so stoutly” at CBC.ca

The Queen’s Garden: Sunday January 11 at 10pm ET on PBS

Buckingham Palace across the lake

Buckingham Palace Across the Lake

The private garden at Buckingham Palace is best known as the setting for garden parties where the Queen and other members of the royal family meet people from all walks of life. The 2014 documentary The Queen’s Garden, which premieres on PBS this Sunday,  provides a behind the scenes look at the royal gardeners preparing the grounds  for thousands of guests. Trees are trimmed to allow for gentlemen walk under them in top hats, the lawn is carefully raked in case ladies in high heels decide to kick off their shoes and walk barefoot on the grass, and the pond is aerated to ensure that there are no foul smells interfering with enjoyment of the grounds.

There’s also interesting film footage of past events on the lawn including the young Princess Elizabeth attending what may have been her very first garden party, hosted by her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary and Edward VIII giving debutantes permission to flee from the pouring rain at an outdoor reception. Although The Queen’s Garden provides a fresh perspective on garden parties past and present, the documentary also reveals there is more to the Buckingham Palace park than the famous lawn. Over the course of four seasons, the biodiversity of this urban oasis is revealed. In the heart of London, the Queen’s Garden provides a haven for rare plants and animals.

In December, the filming of The Queen’s Garden attracted worldwide press attention because the film crew encountered hallucinogenic fungi – magic mushrooms – on the Buckingham Palace grounds. Although the distinctive red toadstools with white spots in the palace garden are the toxic variety from Alice in Wonderland instead of the better known little brown mushrooms, the news sparked curiosity about what other plants and animals made their home in the Queen’s garden. The documentary includes interviews with royal bee keepers and bird watchers who reveal the little known species live around Buckingham Palace.

Plenty of royal history took place in the Queen’s garden as well. Henry VIII evicted Londoners from the grounds to create a deer park for his hunting parties. James I hoped to turn the garden into a silk production centre by planting mulberry trees to feed silkworms. King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte, kept a zebra and an elephant in the garden before her menagerie was moved to the Tower of London and Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert once fell through the ice while skating on the pond.

The Queen’s Garden combines history, science and party planning to provide a unique glimpse of the Buckingham Palace grounds, showing the hidden places beyond the lawn that even garden party guests rarely see.

For more about royalty and gardening, see my previous post, Royals in the Garden that looks at royal personages who have lent their names to flowers -and the occasional vegetable!