Last fall I successfully defended by doctoral thesis, got married and moved across the continent—all within a matter of weeks. I’m happy to report that America has been quite kind to me: I now have an intimate knowledge of the vagaries of the Los Angeles Metro system, call myself a permanent resident and can differentiate a coyote from a lost dog at 50 paces. Because there was a considerable lag between my arrival and my residency card, I took the opportunity to speak at a few conferences this year: one on inclusive museums (), Trent University’s Contesting Canada () and UBC’s Society for the History of Children and Youth conference ().
In preparing my lesson plans for the first week, I couldn’t help but remember a back-to-school season less than a decade ago, when I was a first-year undergrad. Then, as a high school liberal arts keener, I had arrived at university able to debate the ethics of an unelected federal senate, explain in detail the workings of the seigneurial system, and discuss what events like the Komagata Maru incident and the internment of Japanese Canadians demonstrated about the Canadian state. But (through no fault of my teachers, who I know did a lot with very little) I had never heard of the 1969 White Paper, knew nothing of the significance of Bill C-31, and had no idea that BC was largely not treatied.
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How the other dialects with the cot-caught merger got it isless clear, but it is evident from the map that they are all close to theCanadian border! In particular, based on the western settlement patterns, it seemsfairly clear that the North Central dialect is simply a case of speakers fromthe North dialect who have adopted the cot-caught merger from the West and fromCanada.