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History General

Canada's Past and Present

A Dialogue

edited by Robert McDougall

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2019
General, Essays, Historical
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    Publish Date
    Feb 2019
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This fifth volume continues the dialogue between the present and the past begun in 1957 in this series of public lectures sponsored by the Institute of Canadian Studies of Carleton University. The theme of French-Canadian nationalism appears, directly or indirectly, in most of these lectures: it is present in George Stanley’s account of Louis Riel, the “martyr of the French-Canadian nation”; and in John Matthews’ discussion of the long life of Charles Mair, who is studied today mainly by historians because of his participation in the first Riel Rebellion. Mair was a poet too, and Matthew finds in his life and work a dichotomy which he believes reflects the dichotomy of Canada itself.
Blair Neatby’s tribute to the skills of Mackenzie King as a party leader includes a reminder that King’s severest test as a party leader was in the task of keeping English and French Canada together in time of war.
Jean Ethier-blais considers that Paul Emile Borduas is the Canadian artist who best represents the qualities and defects of our society, and that he has influenced virtually all Canadian painters of note. He contributes a sensitive evaluation of the revolutionary vitality of this French Canadian who was an innovator in painting and a social reformer as well.
David Hayne considers another French-Canadian artist, Louis-Honore Frechette, who enjoyed literary fame at home and was a spokesman for his people abroad in the 1860s when his first collection of lyric verse was published, but has since been neglected by scholars.
W.A. Mackintosh writes on O.D. Skelton, scholar, teacher, and writer, whose reputation is assured by his role in building the Department of External Affairs, as confidential adviser of prime ministers, and as biographer of Sir Wilfred Laurier.
Wilder Penfield contributes an affectionate personal memoir of Sir William Osler, the great physician who was considered an iconoclast in his day, and yet, by defying tradition, made way for modernization I the field of medicine.
Finally, to return to the theme of French-Canadian nationalism, two lectures by Mason Wade on Oliver Asselin trace the career of this crusading journalist, and assess the rich intellectual, spiritual, and cultural legacy by Asselin to the present generations.

About the author

Robert L. McDougall is a professor emeritus of English at Carleton University. He was the founder and for many years the Director of the Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton.

Robert McDougall's profile page

Other titles by Robert McDougall