Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Canadian history would you give an interested foreigner?

Do you know the neologism "bleg"?  Blog + beg = bleg.  This is a bleg.

So my spouse has a friend (who I know) who has a son (who I may have met once) who has a girlfriend (entirely beyond my acquaintance)... who is from Kansas.  Evidently the girlfriend has fallen in love with Canada as well as with a Canadian, and she wants to read some Canadian history. Despite all the degrees of separation here, friend-of-spouse says to her: "I know just the person to advise you."  And I get an email: "She enjoys reading history and can likely handle a comprehensive history of Canada.  Do you have some suggestions? She is also interested in our bilingual culture/history."

Well, I made some stabs in the dark.
Is she looking for light reading?  A textbook?  Political history?  Social history?  Biography?  Regional? National?  I could think of some in any category -- but I assume 20 books is a bit much.... 
Since you mention bilingual culture, there was a pretty readable big life of Samuel de Champlain recently by David Hackett Fischer. Was it you who said you liked that little bio LaFontaine and Baldwin by John Ralston Saul?  Or recently Ron Graham, The Last Act, about the Trudeau-Levesque constitutional battles. 
Or;  here's a list of recommended books about Canadian history -- and a book of mine is #4 so it must be a good list!  
I confess find my own ideas a little lame here. It's not so easy an assignment. So I'm crowd-sourcing this.

Readers, do you have suggestions?  We have a well-read, curious foreigner eager to know more of Canadian history. What book fills the bill? Try this on your Canada Day barbeque guests maybe. Comments, just this once, are open.  

Possible guidance.  By follow-up email, I learn: la Kansasienne has recently read Dispersed Relations by Reginald C. Stuart (on US-Canadian relations) and Prejudice and Pride by Damien-Claude Bélanger (English- and French-Canadian intellectuals' views of the US in the early 20th century).  I know neither of these books, but assume we are talking about readers who are up for some serious reading.

I'm counting on you.  Are you out there for me?

Update, July 4: Thanks for comments below, and for Russ Chamberlayne's emailed suggestion:

If our Kansan friend finds the reading gives her a wee bit of homesickness, she can feel a touch of home with a century-old, 80-page report by U.S. agriculturalists (some from KS) on a tour of Prairie farms. But a warning: their description of "the beauty of these vast prairies and luxuriant meadows" in Saskatchewan will make any reader want to move there.  Reports of United States Delegates on Western Canada:
Thanks.  "Kansan" -- is that what a resident of Kansas is called?  (Does it work for Arkansas too?)
Follow @CmedMoore