A Portrait in Letters, 1800-2000

Book - 2003
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In this rich and diverse collection of two centuries of letters, renowned biographer Charlotte Gray gives us the inside story on how we came to be who we are. As the expression of one person's thoughts, ideas, and emotions, a letter offers a unique and privileged look at a moment in history. Whether written to a close friend or an entire nation, a letter speaks volumes about the writer and his or her time. This is history in the making, in the fragile moment before it is rendered into an official version, its heroes and villains into two-dimensional puppets. In their letters, those who have been actors in Canada's defining junctures, along with those who have lived through and been affected by them, offer us familiar historical moments from exciting new perspectives and in frank, intimate, and often unexpected words. Readers will see themselves in this book -- whether the connection is through a letter they might have written themselves, or a letter dating from their mother's childhoods. And letters penned in the first decades of the nineteenth century, though written in unfamiliar words, will touch the reader with the immediacy and timelessness of the emotions they express -- loneliness, excitement, determination, and pride. InCanada: A Portrait in Letters, renowned biographer and popular historian Charlotte Gray weaves together more than two hundred letters written by Canadians, both famous and ordinary. These priceless documents are accompanied by a visual narrative of one hundred illustrations, including maps, sketches, and photographs. Adding her own notes and commentary, Gray creates a captivating portrait of a country, rich in diversity and hope, once a backwater of the British Empire, that has matured to take its place among the world's cultural and economic leaders. Letters from:Norman Bethune • Sir Robert Borden • Emily Carr • Sir Winston Churchill • Robertson Davies • John Diefenbaker • Glenn Gould • Grey Owl • W.L. Mackenzie King • Pierre Laporte • Margaret Laurence • Sir Wilfrid Laurier • Sir John A. MacDonald • Marshall McLuhan • L.M. Montgomery • Susanna Moodie • Farley Mowat • Emily Murphy • Lester B. Pearson • Louis Riel • Tom Thomson • Catharine Parr Traill
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2003
ISBN: 9780385658744
Characteristics: 536 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Gray, Charlotte 1948-


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rb3221 Jul 07, 2015

This book is a moment in history, personal glimpses of what people were thinking (some personal, some touching, some funny, some horrifying) at different periods of our history from 1800 to 1999. Or as Gray states,"history as it was being made." The book is complimented by various maps, sketches, photos and Gray's own notes and comments which adds to the enjoyment and historical context. The book contains letters from many unrecognizable people but also many famous names like Frederick Banting, Louis Riel, John Diefenbaker, Emily Carr, Sir Wilfred Laurier and includes a diversity of topics like The Family Compact, Quebec separation, Indians, television, the Hudson Bay Company, the Springfield Mine, Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
A very interesting book that does not have to be read from front to back but rather can be read by topic or by a specific time period (e.g. 1800-1850).
One of my favorites was very funny letter #182 by the lady who didn't enter the Mrs. Chatelaine contest because "she isn't a perfect housekeeper, a faultless mother, a charming hostess, a loving wife, or a servant of the community. Besides being glamorous as a model, talented as a Broadway star and virtuous as a saint".

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