Socials 2K19 Blog Post #4: Independent Novel Speech – Sir Arthur Currie

“When the morning of the 9th came, its calmness and mildness gave place to cold, squally showers of rain and sleet which chilled to the bone; and at 5:30 a.m., exactly on time, as the light of dawn was quietly seeping through the storm, the barrage came down. The Battle of Vimy Ridge had begun” (152). Hugh M Urquhart’s Arthur Currie: The Biography of a Great Canadian portrays the struggles and achievements of Arthur Currie. Through Urquhart’s narrative, Sir Arthur Currie reveals that to be Canadian means to favour ability over background and being capable even in the face of adversary.

Arthur Currie was born on December 5, 1875 in Napperton, Ontario. He did well in school and eventually became schoolmaster of a local elementary. His successes would soon end, however. Currie’s health took a turn for the worse when he was hospitalized for multiple weeks. But, he would not give up. After his recovery, he quit his teaching job and pursued a life in the Canadian militia. Opportunities were limited there, but when the Great War broke out, the Canadian military rapidly expanded. Currie was quick to act and rose through the ranks of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, eventually becoming commander of the 1st Canadian Division.

Even as commander of a division, Currie found himself constantly fighting against the rigid hierarchy in the Canadian military. When General Hughes, superior of Currie, “pressed for the early return (…) of all British staff officers” in order to “have the Canadian Corps become a national force,” Currie immediately opposed (118). For Currie, whether an officer was British or Canadian did not matter. He wanted his officers to be competent and suited to the post. Furthermore, the Canadian division was at a pivotal point of the war; Currie feared that the dismissal of his British officers would create unnecessary casualties. That day, Currie showed his superiors that background did not matter. As long as one possessed skill, one would be given a post deserving of their ability in the Canadian division.

When the day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, arrived, the French, the British, and even the Canadians themselves were doubtful. The British failed to capture the ridge. The French suffered 150,000 casualties before needing to be relieved. For Canada to capture the ridge was unthinkable. Even Currie himself was fearful, but he knew he couldn’t falter. He kept morale high and ensured his division would have proper artillery support. At the very least, he wanted there to be as little sacrifice as possible. His work was not in vain. When the last shots finally dimmed out, Currie’s division remained standing victorious with few casualties. It was a different story for the British. The “British Battalion to the immediate right of Currie (…) had lost all its officers, except a second lieutenant” (182). When Currie and the Canadian divisions emerged victorious, the European powers saw that Canada was more than a mere part of the British Empire. Canada was seen as a capable, independent force. While not equal in population to the likes of Germany, France, or Britain, the powers saw Canada as an equal in tenacity, a country that would stand tall even when facing a mountain of challenge.

Today, the definition of what it means to be Canadian is a rather vague topic to cover. With a myriad of different ethnicities and thousands of miles of mountains, plains, and tundra separating one province from the other, it seems as it there isn’t one Canadian identity at all. However, through reading Hugh M. Urquhart’s Arthur Currie: The Biography of a Great Canadian, we come to realize that despite our geographic differences, the collective history of our predecessors, such as Arthur Currie, gives us a unique and constantly changing Canadian identity that we and thirty-six million other Canadians can stand behind. Today, tomorrow, and every day onward.

Socials 2K19 Blog Post #3: John A. Macdonald, Canada’s Great Son

Jerome Cho

Mr. Morris

Humanities 10

May 8, 2019


John A. Macdonald: Canada’s Great Son


John A. Macdonald dominates the face of Canadian confederation. His achievements in creating a nation extending from sea to sea makes him a common face, even being portrayed on the Canadian ten dollar bill for almost five decades. Recently, however, some Canadians started to take a different perspective on this founding father. According to a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institution in 2018, “one-in-ten (11%) [Canadians] say [Macdonald’s] name and image should be removed” (“In Debate Over”). Critics claim his discriminatory policies towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples makes his name undeserving of the public eye, while supporters claim the opposite; his leadership as Canada’s first prime minister and nation builder triumphs his faults. Despite polarizing views on John A. Macdonald’s policies and actions, Macdonald’s name should stay. His undeniable role in keeping Canada afloat through his ambitious railway, and his leadership in maintaining cordial relations between French and English-speaking Canadians, makes Macdonald’s name more than deserving to remain in the public sphere.

“Without the Canadian Pacific Railway, there would be no Canada” (Topechka). The Canadian Pacific Railway, a key component of Macdonald’s ‘National Policy’, was a railway “built to unite the new nation of Canada” (“The University of British Columbia”). De jure, Canada after confederation was one country, but in de facto terms, rough terrain and thousands of miles of uninhabited land separated the western provinces from the east. Through creating a method of transportation between the parallel extremities of Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway not only connected the distant provinces economically, but also connected the countries culturally. Through allowing easy transportation for Canadians on both sides of the country, the railway allowed the provinces to develop a common national identity. Furthermore, the Canadian Pacific Railway allowed the federal government to put down rebellions that threatened the integrity of Canada. “When Louis Riel launched the Red River Rebellion, it was the CPR that brought troops in” to put down the resistance (Topechka). Without the ability to quickly move government troops to enforce control in a vast country, Canada wouldn’t be able to maintain such a large country united under one government, causing the country to be broken up into multiple different states, if not absorbed into the United States amid the turmoil. Hence, for orchestrating the unity of Canadian provinces through the creation and maintenance of a common national identity, Canadians should publicly commemorate Macdonald.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in favor of removing Macdonald’s name claim he worsened relations between Indigenous and white Canadian communities through methods such as withholding “food from (…) First Nations subjects in the Northwest” (“The ‘Trial’ of”). However, his neglect of the Indigenous peoples was the consequence of a larger vision;  the unity and friendship between English and French-speaking Canadians. Macdonald “resisted complaints about ‘French domination,’ calling for French-Canadians to be treated as a nation” (Mackay). His actions earned trust and respect from the French-Canadian community, which made up a third of Canada’s population at confederation. Instead of giving in to the xenophobic atmosphere of the two opposing groups, Macdonald, an English-speaking Canadian, searched and found a solution to unite the bickering communities. Today, modern Canadians can enjoy the benefits of Macdonald’s actions. The racist attitudes between French and English-speaking Canadians have largely disappeared, and Quebec still remains a part of Canada, all thanks to Macdonald’s efforts.

Despite defenders supporting Macdonald for his invaluable contributions in creating Canada as a nation, some Canadian communities took action to remove Macdonald’s name for his discriminatory policies towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples. Most notably, the residents of Victoria “remove[d] the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald from the front doors of [their] city hall” (Helps). However, when one takes a look at a larger scale, one can see that Macdonald’s role as a nation builder through his advocacy of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and his ability to improve relations between French and English-speaking Canadians in an era of xenophobia, makes him a Canadian worthy of remaining in the public eye. Often, when we view historical figures through the modern lens, we become too fixated on their faults and unalignment with our modern values, which prevents us from seeing their overall achievements in a positive light. In the case of Sir John A Macdonald, he had his share of faults, but it is because of Macdonald that thirty six million Canadians still have a place to call home; one hundred fifty one years and counting.


Lam, Adrian. “Victoria Removing Sir John A. Macdonald Statue from City Hall.” Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Sun, 9 Aug. 2018,

“The University of British Columbia.” Canadian Pacific Railway | Chung Collection, 2011,

Topechka, Randy. “What Are the Ways in Which the Canadian Pacific Railway Changed Canada?” Quora, 2017,

“The ‘Trial’ of Sir John A. Macdonald: Would He Be Guilty of War Crimes Today? | CBC Radio.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 21 Dec. 2018,

Mackay, Peter. “Sir John A. Macdonald Left a Lasting Imprint on Canada’s Character.” The Globe and Mail, 1 July 2017,

“In Debate over First PM’s Legacy, Vast Majority Say John A. Macdonald’s Name, Image Should Stay in Public View.” Angus Reid Institute, 12 Oct. 2018,











In Depth 2K19: Blog Post #6, The End is Near…

This is the last blog post for In Depth.


This is the last blog post for In Depth Jerome will ever write.


That’s certainly marks off for concision, but I don’t think I’ll ever have an opportunity to do this again, so I might as well do it.

Jokes put aside, time really has gone by fast. There is only a few weeks left to In Depth, and very soon, I’ll start putting together my learning center. From the penultimate blog post, I have had two sessions with my mentor. What we discussed was rather normal and mundane compared to the elaborate preparations some of peers are making right now. However, while the end of In Depth is near, my journey of Japanese will probably never end, so for now, I’m taking my time and learning what I need to learn. Here is what my mentor and I discussed:

  • Vocabulary. My mentor and I went over new vocabulary, however, they were mostly random words without any particular kind of grouping. I did learn the second way of counting in Japanese. One convenient attribute of the second way of counting is its ability to ask for a number of things without the need for a counter. For example, 新聞を一枚ください and 新聞を一つください both mean the same thing, “please give me one newspaper” (rough translation). However, the first method requires the counter 枚 (counter for flat objects) after the number 一 (one). This requires the speaker to know the counter for the object, which differs depending on the object. Using the second method of counting eliminates this need for a counter, making it easy to say the number of objects up to ten.
  • Oral. The bulk of our sessions are oral. We repeat the same procedure of asking questions and answering, but we also make an effort to ask each other what the weather is like, how we are doing, and other similar formalities in Japanese.
  • Etymology. This is mostly the result of my questions. One word we covered the etymology of was the word 日本 or Japan. Many, including myself, know this word means origin of the sun, but I didn’t quite understand why. 日 means “sun” by its most common definition, but 本 means “book”. I later found out that 本 could also mean “origin”. Thus 日本 would mean “sun-origin”. The ancient Japanese saw the sun rising over the horizon, and as the sun plays an important role in traditional Japanese religion, they named their land 日本. According to my mentor, the fact that the Japanese themselves wouldn’t have known they were in the east until Westerners arrived denies the theory that Japan is called 日本 because of its position in the east. The internet claims otherwise, but I find my mentor’s theory more believable.

Progress Report:

I have learned a couple hundred new kanji by their loose translations and stroke order since my last post. While I have not yet achieved my goal of knowing 3000 kanji using the Heisig method, I still have a few weeks to learn the remaining the kanji before In Depth night.

I’m picking out new pronunciations for certain kanji, but I am also picking out pronunciations and meanings for certain kanji compounds. For example, 新聞, combines the kanji 新(new) and 聞(hear) to create 新聞 (newspaper). More or less, this makes sense and through regular usage, I can cement this compound into my memory.

As usual, the amount of immersion I’m understanding is increasing, but there isn’t anything new to write about.

Learning Center:

I plan to focus on how I learned the different writing systems, how each writing system has a role, and how the language just works in general. I thought about having phrases in Japanese and translating them in English, but while this might work for European languages that have similarities in grammar, it wouldn’t be very effective in Japanese.  I want my audience to walk away with an idea of how Japanese works, seeing how interesting and unique the language is from English, how one might tackle the complexity of writing kanji, and how I learned Japanese. If visitors have any oral questions or just want to know how to say something, I can reasonably answer most Japanese questions, but I don’t want this to be the main focus.

I currently have two ideas in mind for making my learning center interactive. One way is to have visitors write their name in Japanese using katakana, but personally, I think this is rather boring. The other idea is to have visitors create their own mnemonic sentence for memorizing a kanji. Through creating their own mnemonic sentence with the primitives of the kanji, my audience will be able to get into my kanji learning mindset, which involved creating thousands of mnemonics sentences for each individual kanji. Kanji is known to be very difficult for western learners because of how similar the characters look and the complexity of each character. By having my visitors create their own sentence and write the kanji, I hope visitors walk away with the knowledge that kanji isn’t that difficult, if you’re using the right method to learn it.

How to Have a Beautiful Mind:


Concepts act “like road junctions that open up several other roads (p.88). Similarly, in Japanese, concepts branch into various different components that make up parts of the language as a whole. For example, the concept of speaking Japanese, branches into pronunciation, whether the way I’m speaking is appropriate to the situation, and whether the listener is able to understand what I am saying. During our sessions, my mentor and I discussed the concept of speaking Japanese and took the time to critique the various components of the concept, such as pronunciation. Additionally, my mentor and I discussed the concept of clarity. When writing Japanese the difference between か and が seems very minuscule, but this slight difference can change whether my writing is clear and understandable or not. My mentor noticed my negligence and discussed the concept, which could be achieved through accuracy and practice.


So far, my mentor has provided me with a lot of alternatives. For example, she offered me the alternative of continuing to work on my kanji and incorporating my knowledge into the work she gave me. Without this alternative, I would “have rigidity and complexity,” and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn kanji, a vital component of reading “actual” Japanese, so early in my journey of learning Japanese (p. 97). De Bono states that “having an adequate way of doing something is as much of a problem as a traditional problem” (p.89). Early in my sessions with my mentor, this very “problem” occurred. My mentor didn’t know I already knew kana and wanted me to do worksheets to cement my knowledge of the kana. This was a way for me to make writing the kana automatic, but it was not the most effective way. By exploring the alternative of moving onto new material and having me cement my knowledge of the kana through practical application that came with learning the new material, my mentor and I accelerated our pace and moved on.

Another mentor, with a traditional style of teaching the language, might have not offered me these alternatives. Generally, kanji is seen as something a Japanese student might learn years into the study of the language. A different mentor might want to provide strong guidance to me while learning kanji and would’ve given me the alternative of learning kanji with their counsel, if learning kanji was something he/she would permit in the first place. As for the second alternative, another mentor might have provided me with the alternative of still doing the worksheets but with an accelerated pace.

Well. That’s it. Once I finish typing the final word of this blog post, the last In Depth blog post I will ever write will be finished. さよなら。