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From the archives

The Melmac Years

My peculiar resin d’être

Maple Branches

Who talks of my nation?

Listening In

What recent populist victories tell us about Canada

Ken McGoogan

Ken McGoogan, who has written extensively on the fur trade and Arctic exploration, recently published Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation.

Articles by
Ken McGoogan

Cold Case

A centuries-old whodunit may finally have been solved July–August 2015
From York Factory on Hudson Bay, Letitia Mactavish Hargrave wrote to her mother in Kintyre, Scotland: “There has been nothing further of John McLoughlin’s murder, except that master and men were all drunk, firing at each other till John who was in the condition of a maniac fell dead.” Hargrave did not have all the facts…

A Nationalist Giant

A young popular historian assesses Pierre Berton’s impressive legacy March 2005
The easiest way for an author to attract attention, the fastest shortcut to notoriety, if not celebrity, is to attack a better-known writer in print—the more famous, the more iconic, the better. Martin Amis, take this. Margaret Atwood, take that. Pierre Berton? Why not? When he died last December at 84, no writer in this country was better…

Our Own Ancient Mariner

As he turns 90, Farley Mowat may be the country’s most influential writer ever May 2011
A bearded Canadian arrived at the international airport in Toronto, ready to embark on a ten-day working trip to California. He cleared customs. But then, while he waited in the departure lounge, he was approached by a man in uniform. This gentleman introduced himself as belonging to the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States of…

Excavating the North

Two writers uncover more pieces in the puzzle of Arctic history November 2007
One morning in August 1999, on the west coast of Boothia Peninsula in the high Arctic, three men prepared to set out from a rough camp to honour the explorer John Rae. We were going to erect a plaque marking the spot where, in 1854, Rae discovered the final link in the Northwest Passage—the only channel then…

Canada’s Robbie Burns

Paying tribute to the creator of Sam McGee and Dan McGrew January–February 2007
“There are strange things done ’neath the midnight sun / By the men who moil for gold.” The words danced through my mind, unbidden, in July 2002, as the smallish airplane in which I sat circled over Dawson City, Yukon, waiting for the fog to clear so it could land. “The arctic trails have their secret tales / That would make your blood run cold.” Those words begin The Cremation of Sam McGee

The Ambivalent Imperialist

A modern take on an Edwardian British adventurer in South Asia March 2006
As I plunged into this book, they began flowing around me, but soon they came faster, and finally they whooshed past me like bright fish in a rapids, darting and weaving: my impressions of Sri Lanka, garnered a decade ago during a too-brief excursion. In Woolf in Ceylon: An Imperial Journey in the Shadow of Leonard