An exploration of Canadian roots and identity from bestselling author Ken McGoogan
With Celtic Lightning, Ken McGoogan asks the question: Who do we think we are? He argues that Canadians have never investigated the demographic reality that informs this book—the fact that more than nine million Canadians claim Scottish or Irish heritage. Did the ancestors of more than one quarter of our population arrive without cultural baggage? No history, no values, no vision? Impossible.
McGoogan writes that to understand who we are and where we are going, Canadians must look to cultural genealogy. He builds on the work of Richard Dawkins, who contends that ideas and values (“memes”) can be transmitted from one generation to another. Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in Canada with values they had learned from their forebears. And they did so early enough, and in sufficient numbers, to shape an emerging Canadian nation.
McGoogan highlights five of the values they imported as foundational: independence, democracy, pluralism, audacity and perseverance. He shows that these values are thriving in contemporary Canada and traces their evolution through the lives of thirty prominent individuals—heroes, rebels, poets, inventors, pirate queens—who played formative roles in the histories of Scotland and Ireland.
In the nineteenth century, two charged traditions came together in Canada. That reconnection, Scottish and Irish, sparked Celtic lightning … and gave rise to a Canadian nation.
About the author
KEN MCGOOGAN is the best-selling author of a dozen books, among them 50 Canadians Who Changed The World, How The Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage and Lady Franklin’s Revenge. He has won the Pierre Berton Award for History, the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography, the Canadian Authors’ Association History Award, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and an American Christopher Award for “a work of artistic excellence that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Before turning mainly to books, Ken worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, and in faraway places as different as Edinburgh, Sydney, Stromness, and Hobart. www.kenmcgoogan.com
Other titles by Ken McGoogan
Flight of the Highlanders
The Making of Canada
The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
50 Canadians Who Changed The World
John Rae's Arctic Correspondence, 1844-1855
The Arctic Journals of John Rae
Lady Franklin's Revenge
A True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Artic History
How The Scots Invented Canada
Race To The Polar Sea
The Heroic Adventures of Elisha Kent Kane
The Untold Story of John Rae, the Artic Explorer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin
The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor Who Walked to the Arctic Ocean