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The Promise of Canada: 150 Years--People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country

por Charlotte Gray

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663399,408 (4.25)10
What does it mean to be a Canadian? What great ideas have changed our country? An award-winning writer casts her eye over our nation's history, highlighting some of our most important stories. From the acclaimed historian Charlotte Gray comes a richly rewarding book about what it means to be Canadian. Readers already know Gray as an award-winning biographer, a writer who has brilliantly captured significant individuals and dramatic moments in our history. Now, in The Promise of Canada, she weaves together masterful portraits of nine influential Canadians, creating a unique history of our country. What do these people--from George-Étienne Cartier and Emily Carr to Tommy Douglas, Margaret Atwood, and Elijah Harper--have in common? Each, according to Charlotte Gray, has left an indelible mark on Canada. Deliberately avoiding a top-down approach to history, Gray has chosen Canadians--some well-known, others less so--whose ideas, she argues, have become part of our collective conversation about who we are as a people. She also highlights many other Canadians from all walks of life who have added to the ongoing debate, showing how our country has reinvented itself in every generation since Confederation, while at the same time holding to certain central beliefs. Beautifully illustrated with evocative black-and-white historical images and colorful artistic visions, and written in an engaging style, The Promise of Canada is a fresh, thoughtful, and inspiring view of our historical journey. Opening doors into our past, present, and future with this masterful work, Charlotte Gray makes Canada's history come alive and challenges us to envision the country we want to live in.… (mais)
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As an American who grew up in Michigan with Canadian roots on my Dad's side (with Canadian cousins still in the Toronto area), and with a husband who also has family in Canada, I've always been a little more interested in Canada and her history than perhaps most Americans. So, at the airport on the way out of Canada on a trip in 2018 I picked this book up and added it to my large pile of "to be read" books, which I'm only now starting to make a dent in. It was written to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation by Charlotte Gray - "one of Canada's pre-eminent biographers and historians" (according to the cover bio).

Charlotte Gray's way into telling the story of the Promise of Canada is through biographies of people she feels most embody what it means to be Canadian, or who most helped to inspire or help build the things that bind Canadians together. I really enjoyed this book and found the author's style very readable. It's not a dry history or an academic excursion - it's a set of stories about Canada from an immigrant writer who clearly loves to tell stories. I found that I knew of (i.e., had heard of) many of the people she writes about, but loved the way she fleshed them out. Emily Carr and Bertha Wilson were two I'd not heard of before. Now, I think I'm in love with Carr's work - I can see why she's called the Canadian Georgia O'Keefe. And the story around Bertha Wilson and her role as the first woman on Canada's Supreme Court was very interesting. I didn't understand that Canada's Supreme Court didn't really function as the last word on Canadian law until 1982. It really drives home what a young country Canada is.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Canada. ( )
  stevesbookstuff | Nov 7, 2020 |
liked the modern part more than the historic past. ( )
  mahallett | May 9, 2019 |
What I liked most about this book, and indeed all of Ms. Gray's books that I've read, is how she gives us, as Canadians, our stories. She brings our history to life. I found this examination of of handful of people who have shaped Canada inspiring. There are no Prime Ministers here...this isn't a top-down look at history. It's a story of how some key people have shaped Canada, and what it was that shaped them as people.

My favourite quote from this book comes in Chapter 10, where Ms. Gray writes “There is no single story.” Why? Because I hope that means she will continue to tell our stories for a long time to come. ( )
  LynnB | Dec 9, 2016 |
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What does it mean to be a Canadian? What great ideas have changed our country? An award-winning writer casts her eye over our nation's history, highlighting some of our most important stories. From the acclaimed historian Charlotte Gray comes a richly rewarding book about what it means to be Canadian. Readers already know Gray as an award-winning biographer, a writer who has brilliantly captured significant individuals and dramatic moments in our history. Now, in The Promise of Canada, she weaves together masterful portraits of nine influential Canadians, creating a unique history of our country. What do these people--from George-Étienne Cartier and Emily Carr to Tommy Douglas, Margaret Atwood, and Elijah Harper--have in common? Each, according to Charlotte Gray, has left an indelible mark on Canada. Deliberately avoiding a top-down approach to history, Gray has chosen Canadians--some well-known, others less so--whose ideas, she argues, have become part of our collective conversation about who we are as a people. She also highlights many other Canadians from all walks of life who have added to the ongoing debate, showing how our country has reinvented itself in every generation since Confederation, while at the same time holding to certain central beliefs. Beautifully illustrated with evocative black-and-white historical images and colorful artistic visions, and written in an engaging style, The Promise of Canada is a fresh, thoughtful, and inspiring view of our historical journey. Opening doors into our past, present, and future with this masterful work, Charlotte Gray makes Canada's history come alive and challenges us to envision the country we want to live in.

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