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An image from CBC’s Canada: The Story of Us: The CBC’s depiction of Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, left, and Pierre-Esprit Radisson has drawn criticism from historians. (CBC)
An image from CBC’s Canada: The Story of Us: The CBC’s depiction of Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, left, and Pierre-Esprit Radisson has drawn criticism from historians. (CBC)

WHAT READERS THINK

April 6: Whose Canadian history? Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Whose history?

You report that CBC’s Canada: The Story of Us depicts Radisson and Groseilliers “in a meeting with British noblemen in England wearing rough-hewn furs, while the British are dressed in finery and wigs” (Maritimers, Quebeckers Denounce CBC Series As Historically Inaccurate, April 5).

I recently published two volumes of Radisson’s writings and the documents about him, and am planning a full biography. I can assure you that though Groseilliers is an unknown quantity in the fashion department, Radisson was a real dude.

Even as a teenage captive of the Mohawks, he tells us he relished the status acquired by displaying their finery, and the Mohawks apparently enjoyed the result.

The several years between the two men’s departure from New France for Boston and New York, and their arrival at the court of Charles II (who gave them a pension and housing) suggests that they had lots of time to change out of their working gear.

Radisson, who may have been raised on the outer fringes of the court of France, seems to have set great store by a good appearance, an essential in that brutally competitive world. Not surprisingly, however, he died a pauper after four decades trying to make the French and English patronage systems give him what he believed was his due. Radisson seems to have spent his later years moving from one semi-fashionable London address to another, trying to convince everyone he was a gent.

Nobody, alas, seems to have believed him, including the CBC.

Germaine Warkentin, Toronto

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As a history educator for 40 years, I am very pleased to see that Canadians care enough about their past to vilify the CBC for getting it wrong in its docudrama, Canada, The Story of Us.

But surely the problem is not too many perspectives on the first European settlement, but too few. Where are the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, for example, staking their claim for L’Anse aux Meadows, where building foundations seem to indicate long-term (when is a settlement ever permanent, after all?) habitation.

Or, we might totally flip our perspective on the whole issue. Australians celebrate their national holiday, Australia Day, on Jan. 26 to commemorate the date the so-called First Fleet arrived with European settlers in what is today Sydney Harbour. Many aboriginals have a different name for that day: Sorry Day. A sophisticated historical perspective includes the recognition that events and process that some peoples see as progress, others see as decline.

Alan Sears, Faculty of Education, University of New Brunswick

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Absurdly … dumb

Re Theatre Of The Absurd (editorial, April 5): If you are so stupid as to carry “evidence of contraventions” on your person (either in your wallet, back pocket, cellphone, computer, wherever) while crossing the border into the United States, you deserve to get caught. Didn’t Darwin have some ideas about this?

Patrick Tighe, Petawawa, Ont.

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#benchedfans

Sports writers have made the case that the NHL, IOC and, to a lesser extent, the NHLPA, collectively marched to this Olympic impasse where the league is sitting out the Games. The fourth player in this stare-down – that would be us, the lovers of best-on-best, nation-on-nation hockey – have been benched. Our beyond-comic villain, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, has calculated we’ll get over it. Well, how ’bout we don’t?

We need an Olympic-sized social-media plague on all their houses. Let’s mess with their business plan, just like they are messing with our game: Boycott the playoffs. Boycott the Games.

Remember, these guys disappear without us.

Michael deConinck Smith, Toronto

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Killed in action

Your presentation on the First World War (Globe Readers, In Their Own Words, On Loved Ones Who Fought In Key Battles – Folio, April 4) prompted me to post our family story on my Facebook page.

Herbert Rice Baldwin Meredith (born March 6, 1889, in Dublin) emigrated to Canada in 1914 and joined the 13th Battalion (Black Watch) on Aug. 26, 1915.

In October, 1916, his battalion arrived in the Vimy area from the Somme battlefields and began planning the Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 9-12, 1917). Trench raids to gain intelligence from German soldiers were part of that preparation. During one raid, on Dec. 1, 1916, Herbert (Uncle Bertie) was reported killed in action.

After reading Jane Urquhart’s The Stone Carvers, I suspected his name might be on the Vimy Memorial, so I travelled there in 2008 to confirm. Yes, there it was, H-R-B-Meredith, third row from the top, fourth row from the right corner on the monument’s north wall.

His name is one of the names of the 11,285 soldiers killed in action in France during the war who have no known grave; in total, 60,000 Canadian soldiers died.

Uncle Bertie’s name is on page 134 of the Book of Remembrance and every March 29, this page is displayed for public viewing in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Some of our family members took part in a prearranged private viewing of the “Turning of the Page” on March 29, 2014 – an impressive, formal procedure carried out in a Military Honour Ceremony.

Beth Barnes, Mississauga

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Random testing? Yes

The idea behind random testing is to prevent accidents, deaths, and injuries (No Random Testing – letters, April 5). Toronto Transit Commission drivers, like pilots, ships captains and locomotive engineers, are responsible for the safety and well-being of people. Passengers trust in the competence and ability of the drivers, captains and engineers. This competence and ability is severely reduced under the influence of drugs or alcohol, often with catastrophic results.

Screening for drugs and alcohol after an accident may explain an event, but cannot undo it and and does nothing or little to reduce future accidents.

Random testing for other groups may make sense. We already have random testing for drivers, it’s called the RIDE program. But when individuals are in charge of large numbers of lives, random testing should be mandatory.

As a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, I am not in favour of random screening of doctors. But, if it could be shown that random screening for drugs and alcohol in our profession would save patients’ lives, I would support it.

Ashok Sajnani, MD, Toronto

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Aye, destiny awaits

Re It’s Time For Scotland To Find A New Home – In Canada (April 5): This is an idea whose time has come: The world’s first virtual country! After Scotland, we could add the provinces of Northern Ireland (excluding those who don’t know their Erse from a hole in the ground), Turks and Caicos – and the entire USA, except for the hillbilly strip down the middle. Arise, my fellow Canadians. Manifest destiny awaits.

Bill Atkinson, Toronto (actually, the People’s Republic of North York)

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