80. The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation Volume II

The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation Volume II by Patrick Watson

Pages: 359
Finished: May 1, 2008
First Published: 2001
Genre: non-fiction, history, biography
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: Looked interesting and I'm tyring to read more non-fiction this year.

Comments: Patrick Watson is a popular Canadian television personage and journalist. I remember him from a show I watched when I was a kid where he would dress up as a famous person from history and then sit down and interview himself. I don't remember what it was called but it was very good.

This book contains 16 mini-biographies on persons from Canada's past, some are famous and the others should be. It is a shame that many of these people are not known today. Looking at the table of contents I noticed that I had heard of only five of these people before I started to read.

This was a wonderful book! The biographies are well written in a narrative style, giving the facts of the person's life but concentrating more on their personalities and the interesting bits of their lives. Fascinating reading! The people profiled here (though not all) are mostly from the 1850-1950 era. Several of the persons have really sparked my interest and I will continue to look for books about them. I also intend to read the other two volumes in this series.

There are two points where the book could have been better. There are no pictures included whatsoever and they were sorely missed by this reader. I ended up doing a lot of googling to get a look at who I was reading about. Also an index would have been much appreciated and would make the book more useful to those interested in certain topics or to students.

The people featured in this volume are:
Mona Parsons (WWII hero)
Joshua Slocum (first man to sail around the world single-handedly)
Jacques Plante (hockey player who developed and used the first goalie mask)
Frances Rattenbury (Vancouver architect, scam artist, murdered by wife's lover)
Nell Shipman (silent movie actress, screenwriter and producer. First woman to do a nude scene on the big screen)
Bill Miner (an American outlaw who moved to BC. He performed the first Canadian railway robbery and became a hero of the Canadian West)
Katherine Ryan (The real Klondike Kate. Owner of restaurants during the Klondike gold rush)
Simon Gunanoot (A Gitskan Indian who was wanted for a double murder and became one of the longest manhunts in Canadian history)
Kit Coleman (The first female war correspondent when she was sent to report on the Spanish-American War)
Bob Edwards (controversial and colourful western journalist at the turn of the century)
Billy Hunt (known as the Great Farini, he was a tight rope walker who walked over the Falls carrying a washing machine on his back.)
Leon Giglio (The great magician, Mandrake the Magician)
Jay Silverheels (The actor who played Tonto on the Lone Ranger)
Wilf Carter aka Montana Slim ( yodeling country singer from the depression era)
Grant MacEwan (Alberta academic, politician and prolific author of books on the canadian west)
Ruth Lowe (Canadian song writer, she wrote several songs for Frank Sinatra)


  1. Sounds good. I putting it on 'the list' for the next Canadian Challenge.

  2. That sounds really good. I'm going to have to read it at some point in time. I haven't really heard of a lot of people that were included, so it would definitely be interesting to learn about them. Others, however, (Jacques Plante, particularly) make me remember those Canadian-Heritage-Moment-commercial-things that used to air on Canadian tv channels. Wish they'd put those back on.

  3. court, yes I miss Heritage Moment too! Actually, the first bio in this book on Mona Parsons starts with the script for the Heritage Moment on her.


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