THE AMERICANS

Dave Bidini, WEST END PHOENIX, October 30, 2020

ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT THE JOAN LATCHFORD ESTATE courtesy of THe cardinal gallery

 

Introduction

Back when I used to DJ at CIUT, there was a board operator, John, who wore an old Tigers baseball cap. (This is such ancient history that, in the late 1980s, campus announcers had board operators. Also: The Tigers were still good enough to give people a reason to wear their cap). Once, over a discussion of baseball, John told me he loved the game, but hated watching it.

“On television?” I asked. “It’s true that some find it very slow.”

“No, television’s fine,” he said. “It’s the games I find troubling. Actually, it’s the time before the game that’s most troubling.”

I found this perplexing until he told me why he was troubled: John refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I left the States during Vietnam,” he said. “I won’t honour the anthem. It makes me angry every time I hear it.”

“What do people think?” I asked him. “What do people think when you don’t stand?”

“Most of them look at me like there’s something wrong with me physically. But then I get up for ‘O Canada.’ Most people don’t say anything,” he said. “But, every now and then...,” he added, leaving the thought unfinished.

I’ve been thinking about John’s story now, as I’ve watched the protest movement across professional sports, sparked by another man, Colin Kaepernick, who wouldn’t stand either. And I started to recognize the Americans among us. Back in the ’80s, the lion’s share of Americans in Canada had come over the border into Ontario as objectors to the Vietnam War. In 2020, it’s a different demographic, and we wondered what motivated them to come. Following Trump’s inauguration, American emigration surged and has stayed high throughout his term. With the American election approaching, we reached into the West End, and across the city, to tell stories of how the Americans ended up here and why, and how they feel as their country lurches at the crossroads.

—DAVE BIDINI

Accompanying the words of the expats whose stories appeared in this issue are pictures by the Toronto photographer Joan Latchford, taken in the late ’60s, of the first generation of draft dodgers to arrive here. They are printed in concert with  The Cardinal Gallery  on Davenport, which has recently taken up the task of sorting through thousands of never-before-seen images in the photographer’s archive. Latchford passed away in 2017.

Accompanying the words of the expats whose stories appeared in this issue are pictures by the Toronto photographer Joan Latchford, taken in the late ’60s, of the first generation of draft dodgers to arrive here. They are printed in concert with The Cardinal Gallery on Davenport, which has recently taken up the task of sorting through thousands of never-before-seen images in the photographer’s archive. Latchford passed away in 2017.

Maureen Honore

“We don’t talk much about the future because we can’t; we need to survive right now”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Tyler Clark Burke

“I still seem to connect immediately with other Americans whenever we find each other in a crowd”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Richard Berman

“I remember with absolute clarity the instant when I realized that this was the place for me”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Bill King

“We packed up and hitchhiked to Canada”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Andrew Sullivan

“I am ashamed for myself, and afraid for us all”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Valerie Hunter

“We seem to end up nervously sighing and shaking our heads without verbalizing our collective sense of dread”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Joanne Smale

“I shucked oysters on a fishing boat in P.E.I.”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Brad Wheeler

“The cheeseburger and the banquet-cut fries tasted exactly as I remembered them”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Tim Ellis

“I left the military, got into raving and became a DJ”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

Jessica Todd Long

“Even if he wins and Trump leaves peacefully, the country is very divided. That won’t go away”

Joan Latchford images of draft dodgers, late 60s

 

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