The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation

Front Cover
McClelland & Stewart, Aug 20, 2019 - 320 pages

From our former Governor General, a series of fifty (of several thousand) carefully chosen letters he has written to people he has admired and befriended over his seventy-plus years, that sets out David Johnston's frank, informed, and novel thoughts about Canada.

Touching on a wide range of topics ranging from learning, the law, kindness and courage, to the monarchy, Aboriginal education, justice, bilingualism, mental health and hockey, David Johnston has always used the letter writing form to tackle the passions, challenges, and goals of his incredibly accomplished and varied life. From his earliest years at Harvard, he has written several letters each day, starting with those to his large family, and broadening out to an ever-widening circle of friends that includes ministers and monarchs, educators and entrepreneurs, and many extraordinary Canadians who have deepened his perspective and touched his heart. The letters included in this beautiful volume are all about Canada -- a project to help him understand and share his views on this great country, past, present and future.
Presented in three parts -- What Shapes Me, What Consumes Me, and What Comforts Me -- The Right Honourable reaches out to everyone from his grandchildren, Kevin Vickers, Clara Hughes, Chris Hadfield, the Aga Khan, Tina Fontaine, Mike Lazaridis, the teachers of our country, a grade five class in Winnipeg, an unknown Inuit boy he met at Rideau Hall, and many others. The perfect gift for graduates, this unique and lovely book should find its home in every Canadian's library.


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About the author (2019)

The Right Honourable DAVID JOHNSTON served as the 28th governor general since Confederation. He holds an LL.B. from Queen's University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard's Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard's Board of Overseers. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo. David Johnston is the author or co-author of twenty-four books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over twenty universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada. He is married to Sharon Johnston, and they have five daughters and twelve grandchildren.

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