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Biography & Autobiography Political

The Idea of Canada

Letters to a Nation

by (author) David Johnston

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Aug 2019
Political, Letters, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price

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From our former Governor General, The Idea of a Nation is a series of fifty—of several thousand—carefully chosen letters he has written to people he has admired and befriended over his seventy-plus years, that sets out David Johnston's frank, informed, and novel thoughts about Canada.
Touching on a wide range of topics ranging from learning, the law, kindness and courage, to the monarchy, Aboriginal education, justice, bilingualism, mental health, and hockey, David Johnston has always used the letter writing form to tackle the passions, challenges, and goals of his incredibly accomplished and varied life. From his earliest years at Harvard, he has written several letters each day, starting with those to his large family, and broadening out to an ever-widening circle of friends that includes ministers and monarchs, educators and entrepreneurs, and many extraordinary Canadians who have deepened his perspective and touched his heart. The letters included in this beautiful volume are all about Canada—a project to help him understand and share his views on this great country, past, present, and future.
Presented in three parts—What Shapes Me, What Consumes Me, and What Comforts Me—The Right Honourable David Johnston reaches out to his grandchildren, Kevin Vickers, Clara Hughes, Chris Hadfield, the Aga Khan, Tina Fontaine, Mike Lazaridis, the teachers of our country, a grade five class in Winnipeg, an unknown Inuit boy he met at Rideau Hall, and many others. The perfect gift for graduates, this unique and lovely book should find its home in every Canadian's library.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Canada's 28th Governor General, the Right Honourable DAVID JOHNSTON is chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation, and advisor at Deloitte and at Fairfax Financial Holdings. A graduate of Harvard, Cambridge, and Queen's universities, he was the first non-American to chair Harvard's Board of Overseers, the president of the University of Waterloo, principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and dean of the Faculty of Law at Western University. He is the author or co-author of over thirty books and holds honorary doctorates from over thirty universities. His book, Trust, was a national bestseller. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was born in Sudbury, Ontario, raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and now lives with his wife, Sharon Johnston, near Ottawa.

Editorial Reviews

"The Right Honourable David Johnston has seen what makes this country great—and what we, as Canadians, still need to improve upon. In his creative new book, The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation, Johnston . . . shar[es] his ideas on our nation's past, present, and future." —CBC Radio

Other titles by David Johnston