Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor
Meet the Playwright

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Da Buzz

At the International Festival of Authors held last week in Toronto, the buzz surrounded a new series of biographies. Called Extraordinary Canadians and published by Penguin, the series is edited by John Ralston Saul. The 18 books will be written by some of Canada's top writers. At the festival I heard John Ralston Saul give an overview of the project, Charlotte Gray discuss Nellie McClung, Rudy Wiebe describe the importance of Big Bear, Lewis deSoto praise Emily Carr and Andrew Cohen outline the achievements of Mike Pearson.

At the round table discussion, Rudy Wiebe attributed Canadian greatness to the struggle for existence in a tough land but he was contradicted by Cohen who said Mike Pearson was an urbanite through and through who had little if any connection to the Canadian landscape. Charlotte Gray was interesting on McClung. She said when she first came from Canada from the British Isles she found Canadian women more self confident and more assured of their place in society than British women. She attributed this to women like Nellie and her cohorts who fought for the vote and for the right to be considered persons.

Below is a list of the books and their authors

Lord Beaverbrook -David Adams Richards
Emily Carr -Lewis deSoto
Nellie McClung -Charlotte Gray
Big Bear -Rudy Wiebe
Pierre Trudeau -Nino Ricci
Lester B. Pearson -Andrew Cohen
Norman Bethune -Adrienne Clarkson
Stephen Leacock -Margaret MacMillan
Mordecai Richler -M.G. Vassanji
Glenn Gould -Mark Kingwell
Riel & Dumont -Joseph Boyden
L.M. Montgomery -Jane Urquhart
LaFontaine & Baldwin -John Ralston Saul
Marshall McLuhan -Douglas Coupland
Tommy Douglas -Vincent Lam
René Levesque -Daniel Poliquin
Wilfrid Laurier -André Pratte

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