The Max Stern Affair
As one of Max Stern’s fellow internees at Camp B, now the New Brunswick Internment Camp Museum near Minto, I was pleased to read of his distinguished career, which led to the Order of Canada in 1984 (“The Secret Life of Max Stern,” October). However, his deportation to Canada—like my own as a seventeen-year-old, whisked away from Great Ayton Friends’ School in Yorkshire—was hardly a voluntary act to ease the workload of British guards. We were simply put on the MS Sobieski, a Polish liner, with no information about where we were heading.
As the British had not given the Canadian authorities any information about the enemy aliens they were shipping across the Atlantic, it is hardly surprising that we were considered kriegsgefangene, or prisoners of war, and received by soldiers with attached bayonets. When they took us into the woods to show us how to use a double-bladed axe to fell trees for firewood, the guards—veterans of another war—used those bayonets as toasting forks over lunchtime bonfires.
In 1921, my father, William Watson, established Watson Art Galleries in Montreal. (Max Stern and his wife bought the neighbouring Dominion Gallery in 1947.) From the beginning of his career, my father promoted Canadian art with considerable success. The first painting he sold was by F. S. Coburn, an artist from Upper Melbourne, Quebec, whose works are still in demand at auction. My father was renowned for locating Krieghoffs around the world and bringing them back home, and he was promoting Riopelle when he retired in 1958. The Walrus has perhaps overestimated Stern’s contribution to Canadian art.
Changing the rules of #artrestitution: The Secret Life of Max Stern @walrusmagazine http://t.co/PT6o1EAqFO #longreads #lootedart
— Art Loss Register (@artlossreg) September 27, 2014
Matthew Braga argues that “in the absence of a Canadian Edward Snowden, it’s up to citizens to demand answers” (“Cyber Insecurity,” October). But it is also up to Canadian media outlets, The Walrus included, to start doing the real job of the press: holding the government’s feet to the fire, investigating fearlessly, and asking the tough questions. Canadian democracy is at risk, and this country’s media share part of the blame.
In comparing stodgy Habs fans with fun-loving Expos ones, Adam Gopnik reminds me of the historical comparison of Toronto and Montreal (“Expos Nation,” October). Fortunately, much like Habs fans, Toronto has also found a way to embrace a more sociable mindset. Your Expos fans are welcome here.
@walrusmagazine I transferred from UWO to Concordia to finish my undergrad so that I could get to all the Expos games in the last season. :)
— Dave Kaufman (@TheKaufmanShow) September 19, 2014
I read with great interest “Loaves and Fishes” (September), but wonder if the politicians attending the National Prayer Breakfast have ever bothered to find out what the organizers really believe in. I would recommend that our pious politicians spend some time reading Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Abraham Vereide based his so-called Fellowship on some fascist principles, of which he was a great admirer, and his organization ingratiates itself with politicians. Consider, for example, its supposed ties to anti-gay legislation in Uganda, and its considerable clout among US senators. Some critical judgment should be in place here: not all prayers are created equally benign.
This appeared in the December 2014 issue.