From the Publisher
“Canada: A Portrait in Letters . . . is a lovely book . . . handsome and valuable.”
—The Globe and Mail
“Charlotte Gray has a knack of making Canadian history come alive. . . . With correspondents both famous and previously unknown, it’s uncanny how Gray always provides a clear social context for each letter writer.”
“Enthralling, thought-provoking and frequently moving . . . Canada: A Portrait in Letters should find a permanent home in most Canadian home libraries. . . . It is a celebration of the written word, of the now almost-forgotten joy of correspondence.”
“Gray’s is a wonderful collection of missives, both engagingly personal and historically noteworthy. . . . A gem, a colourful, compelling mosaic of a country’s history.”
—London Free Press (ON)
Read an Excerpt
In this rich and diverse collection of two centuries of letters, renowned biographer Charlotte Gray gives us the inside story on how we came to be who we are.
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 andhope, 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
Author Biography: Charlotte Gray was born and educated in England. Her first biography, Mrs. King: The Life and Times of Isabel Mackenzie King (1997) was a national bestseller, won the Edna Staebler award for creative non-fiction, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Her second work, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill (1999) won the CBA Libris Award for the year’s best non-fiction book. Gray’s latest work, the bestselling Flint & Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake (2002) was shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust of Canada Biography Prize.