What does it mean to be a Canadian? What great ideas have changed our country? An award-winning writer casts her eye over our nation’s history, highlighting some of our most important stories.
From the acclaimed historian Charlotte Gray comes a richly rewarding book about what it means to be Canadian. Readers already know Gray as an award-winning biographer, a writer who has brilliantly captured significant individuals and dramatic moments in our history. Now, in The Promise of Canada, she weaves together masterful portraits of nine influential Canadians, creating a unique history of our country.
What do these people—from George-Étienne Cartier and Emily Carr to Tommy Douglas, Margaret Atwood, and Elijah Harper—have in common? Each, according to Charlotte Gray, has left an indelible mark on Canada. Deliberately avoiding a top-down approach to history, Gray has chosen Canadians—some well-known, others less so—whose ideas, she argues, have become part of our collective conversation about who we are as a people. She also highlights many other Canadians from all walks of life who have added to the ongoing debate, showing how our country has reinvented itself in every generation since Confederation, while at the same time holding to certain central beliefs.
Beautifully illustrated with evocative black-and-white historical images and colorful artistic visions, and written in an engaging style, The Promise of Canada is a fresh, thoughtful, and inspiring view of our historical journey. Opening doors into our past, present, and future with this masterful work, Charlotte Gray makes Canada’s history come alive and challenges us to envision the country we want to live in.
About the author
Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers, and author of ten acclaimed books of literary non-fiction. Gray’s most recent bestseller is The Promise of Canada: People And Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. Her previous book, The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and The Trial that Shocked a Country, was also a bestseller and won the Toronto Book Award, the Heritage Toronto Book Award, the Canadian Authors Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History and the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book. It was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, the Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction and the Evergreen Award and was long-listed for the B.C. National Book Award for Non-Fiction. An adaptation of her bestseller Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike was broadcast as a television miniseries in early 2014 on the US Discovery Channel, under the title Klondike.
An Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Charlotte is the Recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She has chaired the boards of both Canada’s National History Society and the Art Canada Institute, has served on the boards of PEN Canada and the Ottawa International Writers Festival. She has frequently served on Writers Trust committees, as well as being a juror for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the RBC Taylor Prize, the City of Ottawa Book Prize, several CBC awards and the Kobzar Literary Award. Charlotte is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Excerpt: The Promise of Canada: 150 Years--People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country (by (author) Charlotte Gray)
“A beautiful, slightly different and very successful way of looking at things — by looking at the people, places and stories she feels helped bring us together.”
The Winnipeg Free Press
“A captivating read, balancing intense research with richly drawn characters and lively storytelling.”
PRAISE FOR THE MASSEY MURDER
“Narrated with a great sense of presence, irony, and verve, this book recreates a vanished world of Canadian jurisprudence and politics, invests it with life, and makes it memorable.”
The Globe and Mail
“If I had to get Canada a gift for its 150th birthday, this book would be at the top of my list. With the richly told stories of these extraordinary Canadians—men and women from all walks of life—Charlotte Gray tells us what’s extraordinary about Canada itself. It’s a promise that we can see fulfilled around us every day.”
“Charlotte Gray writes of Canada with an immigrant’s passion and an insider’s knowledge. With her lively profiles, provocative ideas, and unabashed love of country, The Promise of Canada is a promise kept.”
"I've had a literary crush on Charlotte Gray for years. She's smart, funny, insightful. . . . This fascinating collection of biograpy as history takes us from West Coast art to strong-jawed Mounties, from Margaret Atwood to Preston Manning, with equal aplomb. Wonderful!"
“A true feat and it manages to highlight some of our most important stories. Some readers might feel that Gray left out a cause, symbol, or person (for example, there’s nothing on hockey here) but she does a good job of packing in as much in as possible.”
The Globe and Mail
"This book is a masterpiece. It tells us more about ourselves and our country than any comparable work I know of, accomplishing this by style and wit and unconstrained intelligence all made credible by abundant detail. [...] This is an inexhaustibly interesting book about an inexhaustibly interesting country."
"Once again, Charlotte Gray helps us better understand who we are as an evolving nation—a country for all that will thrive well beyond the next 150 years."
Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary
PRAISE FOR GOLD DIGGERS
“A lively, delightful reenactment of a signal era of Klondike mythology.”
Kirkus (Starred Review)
“An engrossing chronicle of Toronto’s social life at the beginning of the 20th century. . . . Gray’s description of the trial and the Toronto of a century ago allow us to understand much more about the city we call home.”
“Gold in the story and gold on the page. With meticulous research and a keen eye for the crucial detail, Charlotte Gray disentangles the story of the great Klondike Gold Rush from its myths and clichés to tell the story of the extraordinary adventurers who struggled to survive and prosper in a harsh land.”
"Amazing! In weaving her own fascinating story throughout deft and telling profiles of critical Canadians over the past 150 years, Charlotte Gray has succeeded in giving us a remarkable “biography” of her adopted country. She now joins the likes of Pierre Berton, Peter C. Newman and Bruce Hutchison as guardians of the national mirror. A marvelous read."
“Painstakingly researched and thoroughly engaging, The Promise of Canada is a pleasurable read, and, what’s more, it’s edifying.”
The Globe and Mail
Other titles by Charlotte Gray
A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise
Canada Day 2016 Preview
The Promise of Canada
The Massey Murder
Extraordinary Canadians Nellie McClung
Striking It Rich in the Klondike
Flint And Feather
The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake
The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell
The Life and Times of Isabel Mackenzie King
Way of a Boy
A Memoir Of Java
The Battles of the War of 1812
Adventures in Canadian History