A Long Way to Paradise
424 pages, 6 x 9
20-50 photographs, 1 map, 12 tables
Release Date:01 Sep 2021

A Long Way to Paradise

A New History of British Columbia Politics

UBC Press

Polarized. Partisan. A Long Way to Paradise traces the evolution of political ideas from 1871 to 1972 to explore British Columbia’s journey to socio-political maturity, answering both why and how British Columbia became Canada’s most politically fractious province.

The BC political landscape has been characterized by divisiveness since Confederation. As outsized personalities from Amor De Cosmos to W.A.C. Bennett dominated the halls of power, militant radicals and reformers took to the streets and the hustings to resist the elites. In A Long Way to Paradise, Robert McDonald debunks the idea that its political culture can be explained as a stylized drama of class conflict. Instead, he identifies "common-sense" liberalism as the key to understanding not only the classic left-right divide in the province but also how its citizens met the demands and challenges of a modernizing world.

McDonald tackles age-old questions from a novel perspective. Why were the Liberal and Conservative parties obliterated in the 1950s? What can account for Bennett’s unprecedented decades-long reign? And why did British Columbians come out in support of parties as diametrically opposed as Social Credit and the NDP? This lively, richly detailed overview provides new insight into the fascinating story of provincial politics in Canada’s lotus land.

This accessible and comprehensive account will find space on the bookshelves of a wide array of readers: not only students and scholars of BC studies and political history but also readers of general history and those interested in politics.

Robert A.J. McDonald was Professor Emeritus of history at the University of British Columbia and a leading historian of British Columbia. He was the author of Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863–1913, and co-editor of Vancouver Past: Essays in Social History, among other works. As editor of BC Studies and a member of various boards and committees, he was passionate about raising awareness of the history of the province and Vancouver. He was Seagram Chair at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, president of the Vancouver Historical Society, and a much-loved teacher.

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