What does it mean to be a Canadian? What great ideas have changed our country? An award-winning writer casts her eye over 150 years of Canadian history.
“Our country owes its success not to some imagined tribal singularity but to the fact that, although its thirty-five million citizens do not look, speak or pray alike, we have learned to share this land and for the most part live in neighbourly sympathy.” —Charlotte Gray, from the Preface of The Promise of Canada
On the eve of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations comes a richly rewarding new book from acclaimed historian Charlotte Gray 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 the country over the past 150 years.
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 our country. Deliberately avoiding a “top down” approach to our history, Gray has chosen people whose ideas have caught her imagination, ideas that over time have become part of our collective conversation. She also highlights many other Canadians, past and present, who have added to the ongoing debate over how we see ourselves, arguing that Canada has constantly reimagined itself in every generation since 1867.
Beautifully illustrated with evocative black and white images and colourful artistic visions of our country, The Promise of Canada is a fresh take on our history that offers fascinating insights into how we have matured and yet how—150 years after Confederation and beyond—we are still a people in progress. Charlotte Gray makes history come alive as she opens doors into our past, our present and our future, inspiring and challenging readers to envision the Canada they want to live in.
Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known writers, and author of eight acclaimed books of literary non-fiction. Born in Sheffield, England, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, she began her writing career in England as a magazine editor and newspaper columnist. After coming to Canada in 1979, she worked as a political commentator, book reviewer and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history.
Charlotte has been awarded five honorary doctorates, from Mount St. Vincent University, Nova Scotia, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, York University and Carleton University.
An Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Charlotte is the 2003 Recipient of the Pierre Berton Award for distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history. She is former chair of the board of Canada’s National History Society, which publishes the magazine Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver.) She sits on the boards of the Ottawa International Authors Festival, the Art Canada Institute/Institut de l’Art Canadien, and the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa. Charlotte is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Charlotte lives in Ottawa with her husband George Anderson, and has three sons.