Monday, July 1, 2013

W26: Great Men of Canada

Knowing that today was the celebration of our nation’s birth, the Biblio-Mat did not fail to deliver a relevant book for the week.

Half expected it to open up to a mirror.
Great Men of Canada delivered what it set out to do. Published for the Government of Ontario in 1928, author John Henderson covered the most important male figures in Canadian history as of the turn of the century. The book itself was a tightly bound 239 page hardcover that had the unexpected surprise of being an ex-libris piece with a name plate on the inside cover dating it as a Sept 1, 1928 addition to the Library of the Teacher’s Institute.

More curious to know what kind of glue they used...
Another interesting thing of note was that on almost every page, there was an illustration in orange ink at the bottom depicting a scene or event from Canadian history. Much like the Sergio Aragonés doodles in the margins of MAD magazine, it provided a fun distraction from the main text. The colour scheme of orange highlights with black text on cream coloured pages itself added a nice aesthetic value to the book and made it look more modern than it actually was.

Alright, so not quite exactly like a MAD margin doodle.
While it is missing some prominent figures of the 20th century, the list was hard to argue against. Not all the men in the book are household names, but after reading their chapters of exploits and contributions, you can understand why they have schools and random suburb streets named after them. 

Mackenzie did not get a chapter, but at least he had a photo in here.
The list along with their role in Canadian history in a nutshell:

John Graves Simcoe – First Governor of Ontario, abolished slavery.
Lord Durham – United Upper and Lower Canada.
Sir John A. Macdonald – First Prime Minister of Canada, probably the greatest Canadian in history.
George Brown – Acclaimed journalist and politician, founded what is now the Globe and Mail.
Sir Georges Cartier – Brought Quebec into Confederation.
Joseph Howe – Journalist and politician, fought for freedom of press, Nova Scotia self-government, and building a railway in the Maritimes.
Sir Alexander Galt – Helped establish the Confederation, founded Lethbridge, AB.
Sir Charles Tupper – Lead Nova Scotia into Confederation, shortest term in office as Prime Minister.
Sir Leonard Tilley – United the Maritimes and brought them into Confederation, created prohibition in Canada.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee – Worked towards Confederation, only Canadian federal politician to be assassinated.
Lord Strathcona – Helped build the first transcontinental railway, seemingly held roles at every prestigious position at the time, philanthropist who gave away a fortune.

Slightly more pensive than on the $10 bill.
The list was definitely skewed on a political angle to the forefathers of our country. While just due must be given, a lot has happened since 1928 and this list is far from comprehensive if one were to talk about the great men of Canada. Off the top of my head, I feel there is a strong case for the inclusion of these, even if they aren’t all political:

Pierre Trudeau – Promoted both Canadian nationalism and multiculturalism, helped create the The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Tommy Douglas – Father of Medicare (universal healthcare!).
Louis Riel – One of the founders of Manitoba, fought for Métis rights.
Alexander Graham Bell – Scientist, inventor, creator of the telephone.
Terry Fox – Embodiment of hope and will.
Wayne Gretzky – The Great One deserves a showing.
Chris Hadfield – Bowie in space is an automatic inclusion.

There are no doubt a lot more that I missed, so feel free to make some arguments for other inclusions.

Book rating: 8.5/10 (A great trek through Canadian history)

Random quote: “He still drained his mug of rum at eleven a.m. in order that he might be sustained until the time of his mid-day meal, and the real drink.” (Prohibition was doomed from the start)

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