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From the archives

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

A Larger Role for Unions

Organized labour may be shrinking but the rhetoric is still upbeat

This United League

Will not die, will not perish

J.R. Patterson

J. R. Patterson has contributed to The Atlantic and many other publications around the world.

Articles by
J.R. Patterson

Sexy, Eh?

Behind the closed doors of a nation July | August 2024
Michelle Bedard published Canada in Bed: An Irreverent Study of Canadian Sexual Attitudes in 1969. Its cover was a little risqué: a drawing of a couple in bed, under a Maple Leaf quilt, the man engrossed in some financial booklet while the woman, red-nippled and blond, expresses frustration. The book, which set out to examine satirically the “perilous shortage of love in Canada,” is really a bundle of sour notes on what Bedard considered a country of emasculated…

Guilt Trip

Misguided explorations of modern travel June 2024
Many of us accept that we are living in a new era, one in which nothing is inconsequential. All our actions, it seems, are imbued with profound significance: the generation of pollution, the repression of this group or that, the exploitation of tradition, and the spread of disease. The global consciousness released by the internet and smartphones has rendered innocence…

Road Trip

Traces of a Manitoba past March 2024
On my family farm is an outbuilding we call “the school.” About twenty-five feet wide and twice as long, it’s used for storage: gardening equipment and the farm truck, a rotation of tractors and other machinery. When I was very young, it held, for several calving seasons, a maternity pen into which cows would be brought to give birth in the relative…

Close to Home

What Margaret Laurence has taught me December 2022
Nothing is ever changed at a single stroke, I know that full well, although a person sometimes wishes it could be otherwise.— Margaret Laurence Believing that real life happens elsewhere is one of those particularly Canadian traits — both in our people and in our fiction. The talented among us really only “make it” when they get to the…

Slivers of Light

Michael Ignatieff ’s new book January | February 2022
Michael Ignatieff is one of Canada’s chief intellectual exports. As a modern-day man of letters, he is a truly transatlantic thinker who gets too little credit at home for his various outputs, which comprise a bookshelf of some sixteen works of non-fiction, three novels, and two screenplays. The albatross of his political career, his urbanity, and his many postings abroad — from director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John …

Because the Light Was On

Remembering Norm Macdonald December 2021
The assumption with elegy is that the composite of remembrances and anecdotes comes together to form a single, unmistakable portrait of the deceased. Yet any attempt at a faithful rendering of the comedian Norm Macdonald, who died in September, aged sixty-one, leaves little more than a jumbled sketch. The man was publicly unknowable. Fiercely anti-confessionary, his jokes were constructed so that they yielded a splintered image of his private…

Graphic Narrative

Drawn-out dramas of the North January | February 2021
A squalling baby held aloft, its umbilical cord falling into a moose-skin boat beached on a riverside. Sinew nets bursting with fish. Dogs hauling laden sleds through the deep taiga forest. The fatty underside of a hide scraped with a flint rock. A cadre of kin working together to erect a camp along the Mackenzie River. These interweaving…