Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The TLS is hip to Toronto . . .

Turns out the TLS has a soft spot for Toronto. In an upbeat review of How the Scots Invented Canada, the London-based journal (Dec. 10) -- no stranger to acerbic commentary -- encapsulates my take on an early governor-general. It then says that John Buchan's words, "as McGoogan notes in this enjoyable book, show that he would be very much at home in a Toronto that would horrify Bishop Strachan -- a city the United Nations has called the world's most multi-cultural."
Love the whole review. And the same can be said of the one that turns up in the January-February issue of Canadian Geographic magazine. Here we read that "McGoogan expands on [Arthur Herman's] narrative by focusing on a few dozen path-breaking Scots; he claims that these men and women and their descendants have been the invisible architects of Canada, laying the foundation for a pluralistic nation that would eventually become “the world’s first postmodern democracy.” Ambitious, resourceful and well educated, these Scots emerged as leaders in Canadian exploration, politics, business, education, literature and science." You can read the rest by clicking on the headline above.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Excellence in Teaching Award

Much as I hate blowing my own horn, I do have to thank the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies for presenting me with an Excellence in Teaching Award. It sounds cynical, I know, but I've  always believed that these awards went to those who lobbied for them. So this one came as a huge surprise. When Lee Gowan, head of the Creative Writing Program, phoned and said he was donning his official hat, I thought: "Uh oh. I have been found out!" Then, in handing out the award, Marilynn Booth, director of the SCS, said so many nice things that she made me blush . . . and THAT is not easy to do. Photographer Max Summerlee took some great shots, among them this one of Marilynn and me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Manitoba, Canada, and the North 2011

You have to love the way the Manitoba Historical Society is bringing me in for the 46th annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner. They know how to treat an author! And check out the new Adventure Canada brochure. I've been traveling with these folks, experts all, for a few years now, and I swear they just keep getting better. If you scroll down, you can find Our Hero writing about his 10 weeks of road-trip rambling around Scotland, summarized in How the Scots Invented Canada. Then comes the confession about how I glossed over two key moments. "The first came when westood in the wind at the Mull of Kintyre in the south of Scotland. We had arrived in a morning fog, but as we stood gazing over the water, the fog lifted and, sure enough, we could see it, not twenty kilometres away: the northcoast of Ireland. We could almost touch it.The second moment occurred on that coast. Having deked over to Ireland, we were staying at a B&B just outsideBallycastle. One evening, we chased a rugged, cliffside path along the rocky coast until, as promised, we came to the ruins of a magnificent castle." Read the rest by scrolling down here. Go head, you know you want to!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The view from Vancouver Island . . .

Scots had vital role in Canadian history

 
Without the work of the Scots, Vancouver Island would be a much different place. Take it from Ken McGoogan -- although, judging by the name, he just might have a bias of sorts.
McGoogan's How The Scots Invented Canada looks beyond the Island, of course, because it turns out that Scots have played major roles from sea to sea to sea (really). But it is still remarkable to note the Island connections in this collection of biographies of notable Canadian Scots.
At the top of the list of would surely be James Douglas, who quite rightly is known as the father of British Columbia. Douglas determined the location of the Hudson's Bay Company fort that grew into the city of Victoria, and guided us through the gold rush that made us back in the 1850s. . . .

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/Scots+vital+role+Canadian+history/3930626/story.html#ixzz17MHP9YCZ