As the expression of one person’s thoughts, ideas, and emotions, a letter offers a unique and privileged look at a moment in history. Whether written to a close friend or an entire nation, a letter speaks volumes about the writer and his or her time.
This is history in the making, in the fragile moment before it is rendered into an official version, its heroes and villains into two-dimensional puppets. In their letters, those who have been actors in Canada’s defining junctures, along with those who have lived through and been affected by them, offer us familiar historical moments from exciting new perspectives and in frank, intimate, and often unexpected words.
Readers will see themselves in this book — whether the connection is through a letter they might have written themselves, or a letter dating from their mother’s childhoods. And letters penned in the first decades of the nineteenth century, though written in unfamiliar words, will touch the reader with the immediacy and timelessness of the emotions they express — loneliness, excitement, determination, and pride.
In Canada: A Portrait in Letters, renowned biographer and popular historian Charlotte Gray weaves together more than two hundred letters written by Canadians, both famous and ordinary. These priceless documents are accompanied by a visual narrative of one hundred illustrations, including maps, sketches, and photographs. Adding her own notes and commentary, Gray creates a captivating portrait of a country, rich in diversity and hope, once a backwater of the British Empire, that has matured to take its place among the world’s cultural and economic leaders.
Letters from: Norman Bethune • Sir Robert Borden • Emily Carr • Sir Winston Churchill • Robertson Davies • John Diefenbaker • Glenn Gould • Grey Owl • W.L. Mackenzie King • Pierre Laporte • Margaret Laurence • Sir Wilfrid Laurier • Sir John A. MacDonald • Marshall McLuhan • L.M. Montgomery • Susanna Moodie • Farley Mowat • Emily Murphy • Lester B. Pearson • Louis Riel • Tom Thomson • Catharine Parr Traill