What is a Canadian?: Forty-three Thought-provoking Responses

Front Cover
Irvin Studin
M&S, 2006 - History - 273 pages
2 Reviews
Each of these essays begins with the words “A Canadian is . . .”. Each one is very different, producing a fascinating book for all thinking Canadians.

Irvin Studin is an idealistic young Canadian who wanted to do something extraordinary for his country. So he decided to approach leading Canadians — he calls them “sages” — to tell us what they believe defines us. The people who responded eagerly, to produce an essay of 1,500 to 2,000 words, are, in his words, “all distinguished Canadian thinkers and achievers from all walks of life — politics, the civil service, academia, literature, journalism, business, the arts — from both official language groups, and from all regions of the country, as well as from the Canadian diaspora.”

The strength of this book lies in the contributors, listed in the sidebar. The variety ranges from the funny — “A Canadian is . . . someone who crosses the road to get to the middle” (Allan Fotheringham) through the hostile — “. . . the citizen of a country badly in need of growing up” (William Watson) through the surprising — “. . . adaptable. To illustrate, consider the depth and breadth of the Canadian woman’s wardrobe” (Jennifer Welsh) or celebratory — “. . . a wonderful thing to be” (Bob Rae).

A Canadian is . . . certain to find this book fascinating.

Allan Fotheringham, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Roch Carrier, Jake MacDonald, George Elliott Clarke, Margaret MacMillan, Thomas Franck, Rosemarie Kuptana, Gérald A. Beaudoin, Peter W. Hogg, George Bowering, Christian Dufour, Paul Heinbecker, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, John C. Crosbie, Audrey McLaughlin, Roy MacGregor, Charlotte Gray, Hugh Segal, Janet McNaughton, Sujit Choudhry, Aritha van Herk, L. Yves Fortier, Catherine Ford, Mark Kingwell, Silver Donald Cameron, Guy Laforest, Maria Tippett, E. Kent Stetson, Louis Balthazar, Joy Kogawa, Wade MacLaughlan, Douglas Glover, Lorna Marsden, Saeed Rahnema, Denis Stairs, Valerie Haig-Brown, Guy Saint-Pierre, William Watson, Doreen Barrie, Jennifer Welsh, Bob Rae

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LynnB - LibraryThing

This collection of 43 essays examine the age-old question of "Canadian identity". Did I learn anything new? Other than a few interesting quotes and factoids, no. But it was thought-provoking nonetheless to have a range of responses to the question "What is a Canadian" to ponder. Read full review

Review: What Is a Canadian?: Forty-Three Thought-Provoking Responses

User Review  - Stephanie - Goodreads

I've just started this, and already I find myself challenged by the language of the responses. Most of them are quite over my head - not in terms of vocabulary, exactly, but ... I don't usually think ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

Irvin Studin is the son of Russian immigrants. He is a Rhodes scholar from York University and has degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford. He now works for the Privy Council Office in Ottawa — and persuades leading thinkers to contribute essays to raise money for a scholarship through this book.

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