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I've added two blogs this morning, one old and one new.


  • Aziz Poonawalla's City of Brass, a blog dealing with Islam and minority issues, is newly added. His most recent post there, drawing from the Chicago Dyke March Jewish flag event to that intersectionality is too limited a concept, makes an interesting argument.

  • LGBTQ-themed blog Unicorn Booty is a group blog that covers many queer issues. I would recommend one recent post reporting on the erasure of the nature of the Pulse massacre in Orlando by Trump (and others).

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Looking north towards Rosedale from the Toronto Reference Library


The Toronto Reference Library is a wonderfully designed building, its architecture full of sensuous curves, but almost as good as the building are the views it offers of the neighbourhoods adjoining it. Looking north, the trees and towers of Rosedale stretch out far beyond Church Street.
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This afternoon, I dropped by the Toronto Reference Library to browse its shelves. As one would expect, Toronto's central library has a very large collection of materials in languages other than English, ready for lenders to pick up. Out of curiosity, I stopped by to see what the Scots Gaelic collection looked like.

The Scots Gaelic shelf at the Toronto Reference Library


There were two shelves of Frisian-language materials above the shelf of Gaelic books, and the Frisian shelves were packed.

This is a sort of afterthought to the death of Gaelic as a living language in Canada. I grew up in the Maritimes, in the province of Prince Edward Island. In that province, now overwhelmingly populated by speakers of English, Canadian Gaelic was once very widely spoken. It was even the main language of, among others, my maternal grandmother’s family. She did not speak the language, though, her parents choosing not to teach it to her. They said that they did not want their many children to learn their neighbourhood gossip.



(The Matheson family lived in the east of what this map calls Eilean Eòin.)

Canadian Gaelic did not persist, not even in the Atlantic Canadian territories where it had been most successfully transplanted, even though it was a (distant) third among European languages spoken in Canada. My feeling is that the speakers of the language did not value it. Part of this may have had to do with the very different statuses of the French and Gaelic languages internationally. French was a high-status language that was a prestigious and credible rival to English, while Gaelic was a much more obscure language looked down upon by almost everyone--including many speakers of Gaelic--with at most hundreds of thousands of speakers. Canada’s Francophone minorities did face oppression, but their language and their community’s existence was something their Anglophone neighbours could more easily accept as legitimate, and that Francophones themselves accepted as legitimate.

This leads to the tendency of speakers of Canadian Gaelic were not committed to the survival of their language. I mentioned above that my maternal grandmother’s parents decided not to transmit the language to their children. In this, occurring soon after the turn of the 20th century, they were far from alone. Speakers of Canadian Gaelic were generally quick to discard this language for an English that was seen as more useful. The survival of the language was not seen as especially important: For a Gaelic-speaking Protestant, for instance, the bond of Protestantism that united them with an Anglophone Protestant was more important than the bond of language that united them with a Gaelic-speaking Catholic. In Gaelic Canada, there was just nothing at all like the push for survivance across the spectrum in French Canada that helped Canadian Francophones survive in a wider country that was--at best--disinterested in the survival of its largest minority.

Fragmented, without any elite interested in preserving the language and its associated culture or a general population likely to support such an elite, the Canadian Gaelic community was bound to go under. And so, in the course of the 20th century, it did, the smaller and more isolated communities going before the larger ones. There are still, I am told, native speakers of Gaelic in Cape Breton, long the heartland of Gaelic Canada, and there is a substantial push to revive the language’s teaching and use in public life in Nova Scotia. I fear this is too little, too late. The time for that was a century ago, likely earlier. If that incentive to give Gaelic official status and a role in public life had been active in the mid-19th century, who knows what might have come of this?

(For further reading on the history of Gaelic in Prince Edward Island, I strongly recommend Dr. Michael Kennedy’s preface (PDF format) to John Shaw’s 1987 recordings of the last creators of Gaelic on Prince Edward Island.)

Was the death of Gaelic as a widely-spoken language in Canada inevitable? Or, was there any possibility of a revival movement, of a renewed valorization of Scots Gaelic? I have wondered in the past if having Cape Breton remain a province separate from Nova Scotia, thus creating a polity populated mainly by Gaelic speakers, might create some kind of incentive for Gaelic to be politically useful.

Thoughts?

(Crossposted to alternatehistory.com.)
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  • Torontoist notes that, between climate change and development, Toronto faces serious flood risks in the future.

  • Ben Spurr notes in the Toronto Star that, come September, Metrolinx will oversee 3% fare increases on GO Transit and the UP Express.

  • I am unsurprised to learn, again from the Toronto Star's Ben Spurr, that the TTC has won an award recognizing it as the best public transit agency in North America.

  • Fatima Syed notes that Brampton, with its newly hired urban planner, is in search of a new identity.

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  • Roads and Kingdoms shares Dave Hazzan's reflections on the yougurt-type (but non-yogurt) Icelandic foodstuff skyr.

  • VICE reports on the scene from Glasgow after the launch of the city Tim Horton's in Scotland.

  • Bloomberg features Javiera Quiroga's take on the migration of Chilean vintners south ahead of climate change.

  • VICE notes that climate change will wreck the favourite coastline locations of surfers.

  • Dave Rothery describes at The Conversation how protecting against space probes' environmental contamination challenges exploration.

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  • Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait notes that the Curiosity rover is detectable from Mars orbit.
  • blogTO shares some of the vintage 1980s photos of gritty Toronto in a new book by Avard Woolaver.

  • The Big Picture shares photos of tea from its homeland in China.

  • Imageo shares stunning photos of Jupiter originally taken by the Juno probe.
  • Language Hat links to the new online version of the Australian National Dictionary.

  • The LRB Blog shares an appalling story of a British university that wants to hire an academic to develop a course for 10 pounds an hour.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the films of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel examines the Pillars of Creation of the Eagle Nebula. How long will they last?
  • Torontoist shares photos from the Toronto Pride parade.

  • John Scalzi at Whatever talks about being a late convert to the joys of Harry Potter.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on Stalin's desire to drain the Caspian Sea, the better to exploit offshore oil and irrigate Kazakhstan.

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Control room window gone transparent


I was quickly walking through Bloor-Yonge station Sunday evening, heading towards the southbound platform, when I looked over and saw that the control room's window, normally set to an opaque mirror, was transparent. Why would I not pause to take a quick shot of the revealed interior?
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  • Language Hat blogs about appearances of Nahuatl in Los Angeles, in television and in education.
  • Language Log talks about "Zhonghua minzu", meaning "Chinese nation" or "Chinese race" depending on the translation.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that Canada, with inelastic production, might have a marijuana shortage come legalization/
  • In the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue wonders if Britain--the West, even--might be on the verge of a descent into communal violence.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the accessibility of VIA Rail's data on trade arrivals and departures.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes that, in the far distant starless future, the decay of binary brown dwarf orbits can still start stars.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Dyke March.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Tatarstan's tradition of bourgeois and intellectually critical nationalism could have wider consequences, in Russia and beyond.

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After seven years of vacancy, the Maple Leaf Gardens building on Church and Carlton that had once housed the home area of the Toronto Maple Leafs became a Loblaws grocery store in 2011. Because of its size and its storied location, Loblaws 60 Carlton is arguably one of the chain's flagship stores. Because of its location on Church Street, Carlton Street in fact being one of several possible southern termini of Church and Wellesley, the store's merchandise is also regularly tricked out in the rainbow colours of Pride when this season comes about.

Loblaws rainbow (1)


Loblaws rainbow (2)


Loblaws rainbow (3)


Loblaws rainbow (4)
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Pride selfie, with beads, even


I save my fineries for special occasions.
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  • The National Park Service's LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study is an amazingly thorough survey of sites and stories of note.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Stephanie Chambers explores how the history of homophobia recorded in her newspaper's old articles.

  • Back2Stonewall shares rare archival footage of the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day parade, ancestor of Pride.

  • The New Yorker's Daniel Penny tells the story of Joseph Touchette, at 93 the oldest drag queen in Greenwich Village.

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  • In the Toronto Star, Emma Teitel wonders how long Church and Wellesley will last as a hub as the queer community develops and migrates away.

  • Trevor Corkum, also in the Toronto Star, explores the important role of the Glad Day Bookshop in modern Toronto's gay and literary scenes.
  • Brian Bradley tells the story of Craig Russell, an early drag queen who became a star and started a still-living cultural tradition of drag performances in Toronto.

  • In NOW Toronto, Vaughn Grey tells the story of how he successfully escaped Jamaica to claim refugee status in Toronto.

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  • Joe. My. God. has reposted a famous, fantastic contemporary New York Daily News article about the Stonewall Riots.

  • James Leahy's clips of Toronto Pride parades from 1988 through 1995 are great. h/t to Leahy and to Shawn Micallef of Spacing for sharing them.

  • Arnold Zwicky has collated some photos of Pride rainbows on Chicago and Dublin transit buses and on some boots.

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Looking northeast, Church and Wellesley


Pride Toronto was still going strong at Church and Wellesley when I was there just a quarter-hour before midnight. I do not doubt it is going strong even now.
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  • The Globe and Mail's Joanna Slater talks about how the subway system of New York City is staggering from catastrophe to catastrophe.

  • The Globe and Mail's Stephen Quinn argues it is much too late to save Vancouver's Chinatown from radical redevelopment.

  • The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski writes about how young buyers are driving a push for laneway housing in Toronto.
  • Bryan Tucker, also in the Toronto Star, also makes the case for laneway housing.

  • The National Post shares a story about an affordable 18th century house on the Québec-Vermont border.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly photoblogs about her trip to Berlin.

  • Dead Things reports on a recent study that unraveled the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.

  • James Nicoll notes that his niece and nephew will each be performing theatre in Toronto.

  • Language Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were translators.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Chinese video game competitions and Chinese tours to Soviet revolutionary sites.

  • Steve Munro shares photos of the old Kitchener trolleybus.

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of the Ramadan drummer of Coney Island.

  • Savage Minds shares an essay arguing that photographers should get their subjects' consent and receive renumeration.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Trans March.

  • Towleroad
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Consider this post a consequence of a consolidation of my blogroll, with three posts from older blogs I've added previously and two new posts from new blogs.


  • Missing persons blog Charley Ross shares the strange story of five people who went missing in a winter wilderness in 1978.
  • Roads and Kingdom shares an anecdote by Alessio Perrone about a chat over a drink with a Cornishman, in a Cornwall ever more dependent on tourism.

  • Strange Company shares the story of Kiltie, a Scottish cat who immigrated to the United States in the First World War.

  • Starts With a Bang, a science blog by Ethan Siegel, argues that there is in fact no evidence for periodic mass extinctions caused by bodies external to the Earth.

  • Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, a group blog by Canadian economists, considers the value placed on Aboriginal language television programming.

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I spent yesterday evening down with a friend taking in Pride Toronto down at Church and Wellesley, wandering up and down the streets dense with people and vendors and venturing over into
Barbara Hall Park and the AIDS Memorial. It was a lovely evening, made all the more so by a late evening sky coloured in rainbow pastels.

Walking down Church


Toward the Wellesley stage


The new Glad Day Bookshop sign


Towards Maple Leaf Gardens


By the roses


Behind the DJ


Roses in pink and red


Friends


Rainbow lights and sky


Pastels above


Seven flags over the 519


As evening falls


South on Church


West on Wellesley
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  • Steve Munro reports on the many problems associated with implementing new express buses, in Toronto and elsewhere.

  • Global News was one of many sources reporting on the high rate of failure of the new Bombardier streetcars.

  • Ben Spurr notes the astounding failure of the City of Toronto to do basic things at Union Station, like collect rent.

  • Transit Toronto notes that GO Transit's seasonal routes to Niagara have started today and will go until 4 September.

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