The next suggestions for smoky summer reading are from Margaret Conrad’s blog post in Acadiensis. As the title suggests we are a diverse people and not all of us are celebrating 150 years as a nation. “Indigenous peoples have served notice that they find little to celebrate in 150 years of Ottawa’s rule,” writes Conrad, “and the Parti Québécois has made plans to counter Ottawa’s program of ‘comfort history’ with a series of events showcasing ‘the Other 150’ for Quebecers.”
Five of her suggested readings are aimed at a broad audience and are mostly celebratory. Three are more academic and reflect that messy, sticky diversity. I have read the first two more popular books and would concur with Margaret Conrad’s assessment but the others are new to me.
Jane Urquhar’s A Number of Things: Life of Canada Told through Fifty Objects offers thoughtful observations on Canada’s material culture. Her objects include a Nobel Peace Prize medal, a royal cowcatcher, a Beothuk legging, a Sikh RCMP turban, a Cree basket, a Massey-Harris tractor and a hanging rope.
Charlotte Gray in The Promise of Canada: 150 Years—People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country profiles nine Canadians whose ideas have caught her imagination and made a difference and together capture the essence of Canada’s evolving identity.
The third would be a great addition to any school library: George Fischer’s Canada: 150 Panoramas, “an unapologetic celebration of Canada’s landscape in stunning colour photographs of, and brief commentaries on, each province and territory.”
You Might Be From Canada If…,, is a collection of political cartoons from satirist Michael de Adder. Conrad describes him as an inspired and courageous cartoonist. The book is one of the “You Might” series that includes similar cartoon books on most of the provinces (plus Texas?).
And then some more critical interpretations of our recent history:
Donald J. Savoie’s Looking for Bootstraps: Economic Development in the Maritimes
Raymond B. Blake’s Lions or Jellyfish: Newfoundland-Ottawa Relations since 1957;
Edward Whitcomb demonstrates in Rivals for Power: Ottawa and the Provinces—The Contentious History of the Canadian Federation
Only a few weeks left to tackle get sticky and messy with Canadian history books.