Monthly Archives: February 2019

The City of the Beginning of Things

In 1912 Mariposa was, famously, a little town. Just exactly what kind of little town it was remains, or should remain, controversial although largely irrelevant. Now it is a little city, and unlike Stephen Leacock I am going to be very careful not to give you even the slightest grounds for guessing which city it is. He said that Mariposa was “seventy or eighty” little towns. This remains not a bad estimate, as Canada now has somewhere between seventy and eighty little cities, taking that to mean a population roughly between 20,000 and 100,000. Orillia is on the list, of course, but so are a lot of other places from Corner Brook to Owen Sound to Nanaimo to Whitehorse and Yellowknife.

In other words, Mariposa is an imaginary place. If Peter Ustinov can have an imaginary country that he carries around with him for restorative purposes, then I can have an imaginary city. It will have its own story eventually, I hope, to be called perhaps All-Weather Sketches of a Middling City, in order to avoid some of the pitfalls of sunshine sketches of little towns, pitty and fally as they inevitably turn out to be.

I hope it will prove restorative for you too.

Mariposa is many things, from hockey leagues to chamber concert series to seasonal carnivals to promenades along Main Street to coffee shops to pubs to churches to schools to all kinds of stores to factories to train and bus stations to service stations to medical clinics and hospitals to a university and a community college to a fine public library in a new building to a city council and all the trappings in an architecturally significant city hall and in short the whole panorama of contemporary small urban life. It is also, somewhat unusually, a City of Literary Refuge, as it likes to style itself, officially a UNESCO City of Literature, which is not exactly the same thing. Most of all, of course, it is a city of people, diverse people, women and men both dong and ding summer autumn winter spring reaping their sowings and wenting their came sun moon stars rain and all the rest of it.

Most importantly for my present purpose, however, Mariposa is to the hub of the great 2019 Hunt for the Wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, that purpose, in case you have not heard, being to produce a celebration of the Stephen Leacock Anniversaries this year: the 150th of his birth in 1869, the 75th of his death in 1944, and the 100th of his book The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. I am resolved that we should celebrate the life and work of this phenomenal Canadian voice, hunt down the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, tame it, and re-write the book. I view this as a national endeavour, and will do everything I can to make it so. This post is written as we approach the launch date of March 28th.

This whole extravaganza will, as far as I know right now, take place entirely on line. I am establishing several ways that you can engage in it:

  • by following my Twitter spot @conwaypaulw;
  • by following Voyageur Storytelling’s Facebook page;
  • by following any one of the three blogs, each of which will link to the others;
  • by sending me an e-mail at and asking to be on the mailing list.

If you are following either Twitter or Facebook I ask you most politely to ricochet any postings to your friends so that we can swell the group, even exponentially.

The three blogs are:

I invite you to comment in any fashion that these various media allow, or send me an e-mail, and look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Paul Conway