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How The Scots Invented Canada [Hardcover]

Ken McGoogan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 27 2010

No matter where you enter the history of Canada – through exploration, politics, business, education or literature -- you find that the Scots and their descendants have played a leading role. Today, almost five million Canadians identify themselves as Scottish, and their influence is felt throughout the land. Starting with his own deep roots in Scotland and early Canada, Ken McGoogan has created a lively, entertaining narrative that focuses on more than sixty Scots who have led the way in shaping this country.

Early arrivals included explorers Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser and the “Scotch West Indian,” James Douglas. Later, Scots such as Lord Selkirk and John Galt encouraged thousands to immigrate. Nation-builders followed, among them John A. Macdonald, James McGill and the reformer Nellie McClung. Then came the visionaries, Scottish Canadians such as Tommy Douglas, Doris Anderson and Marshall McLuhan, who have turned Canada into a nation that revels in diversity.

McGoogan commemorates the first settlers to land at Pictou, Nova Scotia, and celebrates such hybrid Canadians as the Cherokee Scot John Norton, Thérèse MacDonald Casgrain and the kilt-loving John George Diefenbaker. He honours the war contributions of Scottish Canadian regiments, and he toasts Sir Walter Scott and the beloved Robbie Burns. Beautifully illustrated and handsomely packaged, How the Scots Invented Canada is an exuberant celebration of the building of a nation.


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Customers buy this book with How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It CDN$ 14.40

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Product Description

Quill & Quire

Since the 1700s, the Scots have had a ­profound influence worldwide, as American author Arthur Herman emphatically argued in his 2001 book, How the Scots ­Invented the Modern World. So why do we need another book about Scottish ingenuity focused solely on Canada? Because, writes Ken McGoogan, “except for the homeland, this is the country where Scots and their ­descendants have accomplished the most.”

Scots have never exceeded more than 16 per cent of Canada’s population, McGoogan points out, yet 13 out of 22 Canadian prime ministers were of Scottish heritage. Low- or high-born, the Scots who came here tended to possess strong leadership skills as well as open, flexible attitudes that helped give rise to Canada’s cultural pluralism.

How the Scots Invented Canada is ­broken into three themed sections: “Pioneers,” “Builders,” and “Visionaries.” McGoogan calls his approach “deliberately less academic” than Herman’s. Indeed, this is an amiable volume that serves as both an engaging read and a handy reference.

McGoogan doesn’t aim for the obscure: most of the names here – Fraser, MacDonald, McGill, Eaton, Bell, Douglas, Trudeau – will be familiar to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Canadian history. With 14 profiles, women seem slightly better represented than in standard textbooks, Nellie McClung, Agnes McPhail, Alice Munro, and Margaret Laurence being among the most prominent figures mentioned.

Despite his surname, McGoogan notes that his own ancestry is a typically Canadian hybrid of nationalities. In other words, his intention is not merely to bask in his ancestors’ bright glow. In fact, if the Scottish connection were never mentioned, McGoogan’s book would read very much like a standard Canadian history textbook, which perhaps affirms his thesis.

McGoogan argues that Scottish success was not simply a fluke of genetics. It was the direct result of the widespread literacy and culture of open debate produced by the Scottish Enlightenment. It’s an uncomplicated recipe for success that policy-makers interested in an equally bold future for Canada would do well to take heed of.

About the Author

KEN McGOOGAN’s quartet of books about Arctic history— Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge and Race to the Polar Sea—have made him one of the most acclaimed popular historians in Canada and a national bestselling author. Visit his website at www.kenmcgoogan.com.


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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written Review Jan. 9 2011
By Maim
Format:Hardcover
I was very impressed with the way my order was handled and arrived in time for Christmas - as promised.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book May 12 2013
By Amy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a good historical photo of Canada and its growth through the early years. There is a lot of information here that you never learned in school - the history of our banking system, school systems, etc. There were a lot of wrong moves but also many right ones. For an easy recap ofCanadian history this is a good read.
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