Issues

January–February 2011

January note

Never ones to honour our history, Canadians may now be in danger of digitizing it to death. Susan Crean, a non-fiction writer who has spent an enormous amount of her life in our national and provincial archives, is detecting disturbing changes which she documents in this month’s essay, “National Archives Blues.” With drops in staff and acquisitions, and with an extraordinarily difficult website to navigate, Crean’s fear is that Libraries and Archives Canada “is being reduced to collecting government papers and not much else.”

There’s Egoyan and there’s Cronenberg in the Canadian film pantheon. But then there’s Guy Maddin, an equally valued auteur of Canadian cinema but a far more arcane and acquired taste. His films are surreal and obsessive, with characters suffering loss, amnesia or delirium. Noreen Golfman, a leading Canadian film academic, tries to sort out Maddin’s strengths and weaknesses in her review, “Fairy Tales for Men”, which evaluates a collection of essays on Maddin’s work edited by David Church and a monograph on the filmmaker by William Beard.

We all need a little bravado to get us through January, and Ken McGoogan’s new book, How the Scots Invented Canada, seems to have it in spades. Our reviewer, John Ivison, concedes that the Scots’ habit of self-congratulation can be annoying to others, but then he has to admit that McGoogan has a point. Of our 22 prime ministers, 13 come from Scots heritage, while over half the 36 Fathers of Confederation were Scottish Canadians.

Brrrrr, it’s cold out there. Stay inside and read!

Bronwyn Drainie Editor

February note

Happy February!

Madelaine Drohan, the Ottawa correspondent for The Economist, takes on a provocative book in this issue: Imperialist Canada by Todd Gordon. Canadians don’t like to think of themselves as imperialists or colonialists but this book begs to differ.

The dean of Canadian journalists, Peter C. Newman, closer to the end than the beginning of his writing career, has brought out two volumes of his inimitable portraits: Heroes: Canadian Champions, Dark Horses and Icons and Mavericks: Canadian Rebels, Renegades and Anti-Heroes. Who better to evaluate this impressive body of work than John Robert Colombo, the “master gatherer” of Canadian culture, quotations, history and ephemera?

And for fans of the beautiful game, Mark MacKinnon reviews Dave Bidini’s Home and Away: In Search of Dreams at the Homeless World Cup of Soccer.

Fine winter reading. Enjoy!

Bronwyn Drainie Editor