Ancient castle ruins on North American soil, secret societies scuttling Atlantic exploration, and a grail tradition in Canada stretching back seven centuries? Canada is at the heart of a North American grail conspiracy. Or so says Michael Bradley, author of the popular Holy Grail across the Atlantic: The Secret History of Canadian Discovery and Exploration (1989) and in two recently published sequels. Bradley draws heavily on the work of alleged experts who claim that the Grail—or San Graal—is not just a chalice or cup but a family lineage, a dynasty, protected for centuries and traced back to the tribes of Benjamin or the children of Jesus. He carries the reader from a now-familiar account of European Grail tradition, to our own purported entry into the mystery: the alleged founding of a New World royal refuge in Nova Scotia in 1244. Whether you are a cynical skeptic, railing against leaps of logic and lack of solid historical research, or you are a fan of grand conspiracies, Bradley offers a strangely compelling anti-establishment history lesson that alleges Grail followers founded a clandestine royal refuge in Nova Scotia in 1244, Samuel de Champlain was a Grail secret agent, and finally Tommy Douglas should be recast as our uncrowned once-and-future king.
FACT: One Tim Hortons for every 11,500 Canadians. There are 2,597 outlets in Canada, up from 1,500 in 1995.
Conspiracy theories are often more convincing when offered by self-described skeptics who claim to be only grudgingly persuaded because of overwhelming “evidence.” Bradley begins his sweeping revisionist Canadian history and his perspective on the Grail mystery with a reverential nod to Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, the authors of the much revered and reviled Holy Blood, Holy Grail. (Two of these authors are currently suing Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, for plagiarism, because Brown failed to acknowledge a considerable debt to their archival research.) Expanding on their speculations of secret societies defending the holy family, Bradley begins with a revelation of an alleged Pre-Columbian castle ruins in rural Nova Scotia. He describes the unexplained rubblework of a 13th century castle (in a location he conveniently conceals) predating any known exploration to North America and in a style uncharacteristic of local aboriginal construction.
Did the knights Templar beat a retreat to the unexplored Atlantic coast? Could the “Prince” Henry Sinclair, the first Earl of Orkney and an explorer, as Bradley alleges, have founded a transatlantic settlement to protect the Grail bloodline? Perhaps more fascinating, however, is Bradley’s claim that many of our national traditions (not to mention highways and tourism pamphlets) may need revising. He claims one of our founders, explorer Samuel de Champlain, was actually a secret agent who primarily worked to support the Grail dynasty by obscuring his knowledge to Nova Scotian sites, providing maps and entries largely for disinformation, and working towards establishing a refuge at Montreal. Bradley’s chapters on European upheaval and (largely impenetrable) map evidence sometimes seem almost credible. As a former history lecturer, he stresses how hopelessly flawed “orthodox interpretations of Western history” is: “After 20 years of research, and some minor contributions to what might be called ‘conventional’ interpretation of history, I have concluded that the acceptable history of textbooks is inadequate and misleading.”
FACT: In 1998, the face of Jesus appeared on the wall of a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop, in Bras d’Or, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Thousands of witnesses drove past the “miracle,” which appeared next to the drive-thru window.
But Bradley’s somewhat meandering account of Canadian involvement in Grail history has another purpose. Grail history is not only a complex religious myth that could explain machinations behind European religious life and history. Instead, he argues that the Grail, whether myth or reality, has had a benign influence on world history, including events in Canada. “The presence of the almost-hidden group of people,” he suggests, “has molded major patterns of human development, which has managed humanity at crisis points.” He speculates further left-leaning Canadian political leaders, like secretive European leaders before them, are implicated in grail-inspired activism, chivalrous principles of reform, and a commitment to long-term human progress. At the end of the book, he conjectures that Tommy Douglas, who pledged political reform and proposed universal health care in Saskatchewan, is our own once-and-future king. Although we might not share his faith in such dubious evidence, Bradley claims that a young Douglas’s political views were influenced by the Masonic Order and the junior Order of Jacques de Molay. And why not believe that Tommy Douglas was our own Arthur returned?
COINCIDENCE?: Consuming a X-large triple-triple coffee (three sugars & three cream) can produce visions of Jesus.
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