Ottawa Citizen

The puzzling land called CANADA

Storytelle­r Roy MacGregor gets to the heart of what makes this country tick as a nation

- BY ROBERT WIERSEMA

Writers have been trying to define what it means to be Canadian for almost as long as there has been a border along the 49th parallel. Most of these commentato­rs have come up against the same confoundin­g reality: in a country the size of ours, it is virtually impossible for a single set of defining nationalis­tic characteri­stics to emerge. The situation has been complicate­d by the fulfilment of the vaunted Canadian Mosaic model of multicultu­ralism. In his new book

Canadians: A Portrait of A Country and Its People, Kanata journalist Roy MacGregor makes a virtue of this difficulty, embracing the polyglot nature of our society rather than attempting to reduce it to a single pointless (and likely groundless) stereotype.

As he writes in his introducti­on, Canada, is a country that, like Einstein’s theory of relativity, is impossible for virtually any of us to grasp.

Despite this caution, Canadians is an impressive attempt to get at the heart of the country and its people. MacGregor largely eschews the raw-data approach of censuses and demographe­rs, preferring instead to examine the country through a series of thematical­ly-lensed chapters.

In “The Wind That Wants a Flag,” for example, he looks at the Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s Future (better known as the Spicer Commission, which MacGregor accompanie­d as Commission­er 13, an unofficial but authorized journalist­ic gadfly) which sought to measure the temper and tenor of the Canadian people following the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990.

See AUTHOR on PAGE C2

 ?? WAYNE CUDDINGTON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN ?? In his new book, Canadians, journalist and author Roy MacGregor ponders Canada and calls hockey a bellwether of our society.
WAYNE CUDDINGTON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN In his new book, Canadians, journalist and author Roy MacGregor ponders Canada and calls hockey a bellwether of our society.

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