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The Dominion of Canada – An Annotated Bibliography

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Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Monday, July 1, 2024

The Dominion of Canada – An Annotated Bibliography

Today is the 157th anniversary of the day when the British North America Act came into effect establishing a new realm in North America that under the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and governed by her own Parliament in Ottawa would bear the title of Dominion and the name of Canada.  Originally a confederation of four provinces she would grow to include six others along with the territories which were originally a single territory, which was divided twice, just before the twentieth century and at that century’s end bringing the current number to three.  Although I was only six when the Liberals, lacking the necessary quorum in Parliament, sneakily and illegally passed a bill changing the name of our country’s holiday I still refer to it as Dominion Day which the great Robertson Davies, writing to the Globe and Mail, once described as a “splendid title” while referring to the new one as “wet” due to its being one letter off Canada Dry, and the folly of the Liberal parliamentarians as “one of the inexplicable lunacies of a democratic system temporarily running to seed.”

Normally for Dominion Day I write an essay, sometimes about a notable Canada, sometimes a more political piece blasting the Liberals, big and small l, and all the changes for the worse that they have wrought.  Last year’s essay was a call for religious revival in Canada.  This year I decided to do something a bit different and have put together a Dominion Day recommended reading list.  This list is not intended to be exhaustive either in whole or in any of the sections into which it is divided so non-inclusion in this list should not be taken as a recommendation against a book on my part.  

Canada: Political Philosophy

The two books that top my list of recommendations for Canadian political reading are ones to which long-time readers will have seen me make multiple mentions.  These are John Farthing’s Freedom Wears a Crown (Toronto: Kingswood House, 1957) and the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker’s Those Things We Treasure: A Selection of Speeches on Freedom and Defence of Our Parliamentary Heritage (Toronto: Macmillan, 1972).  The first of these, which was published posthumously having been edited by journalist Judith Robinson who herself passed away not that long after, makes the case for our constitutional parliamentary monarchy against the alternatives of American capitalist republicanism or Soviet socialist totalitarianism which at the time were striving to remake the entire world, each in her own image, in the conflict we remember as the Cold War.  Farthing also discusses the first stage of the Liberal Party’s subversion of our constitution in the King-Byng affair.  A more thorough examination and defense of the constitutional principles represented by the right side of that almost century old controversy, that of Lord Byng (the King in the name of the affair was not King George V, whom Byng represented as Governor-General, but the Liberal Prime Minister whose last name was King) can be found in Eugene Forsey’s doctoral dissertation which was published as The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament in the British Commonwealth (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1943).  I mention this third book, which in its dissertation form can be found online if you have any difficulty locating a hard copy, before commenting on Diefenbaker’s because of its topical connection with Farthing’s. Diefenbaker’s book collects speeches that he gave during and in response to the second wave of Liberal subversion.  It is mostly changes wrought early in the premiership of Pierre Trudeau that are decried although the second wave of Liberal subversion can be dated to the moment that Lester Pearson, with the aid of both the Social Credit and the New Democrats, ousted Diefenbaker in 1963.  For the classic account of this act of Liberal subversion see George Grant’s Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism (Montreal: McGill University Press, 1965) which is the most political of Grant’s books, although it incorporates the philosophical and moral insights more typical of his other writings.

The fifth book that deserves mention under this heading is The Social Criticism Of Stephen Leacock: The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice and Other Essays (Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 1973) which was edited by Alan Bowker and which incorporates the whole of Leacock’s The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, originally published in 1920 and which is a critique rather than an endorsement of socialism, as well as “Greater Canada: An Appeal” and several of the essays from Leacock’s Essays and Literary Studies (1916), including his “The Woman Question” which is the best single piece ever written by a Canadian on the subject of feminism. Leacock was the chair of the Department of Economics and Political Science at McGill where he was a mentor to both Farthing and Forsey.  Noting this connection brings me to the sixth book, Radical Tories: The Conservative Tradition in Canada (Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1982).  The author of this book was Charles Taylor, not the philosopher but the journalist and race horse breeder. Eugene Forsey and George Grant both get a chapter in this book, the chapters being based on  Taylor’s personal interviews with these men, which is the same format used for the chapters on the historians Donald Creighton and William Morton and a few others.  Leacock and Farthing obviously could not be similarly interviewed although Taylor discussed Leacock and mentioned Farthing earlier in the book.

Canada: Topical Politics

The distinction between the books under the previous heading and the books under this one is that the previous books addressed Canadian politics in terms of general political philosophy whereas these address specific issues.  The Stephen Leacock book could have gone in either section.

On the subject of immigration, which is a very hot button topic today, Doug Collins’ Immigration: the Destruction of English Canada (Richmond Hill: BMG, 1979) is arguably still the best Canadian book ever written.  It was the eighth and last book published by BMG, a small publishing house set up by Winnett Boyd, Kenneth McDonald and Orville Gaines to warn against the path down which Pierre Trudeau was leading Canada. This was very early in the era of liberal immigration and Collins accurately predicted that the end result would be the importation of a lot of unnecessary and unwanted racial strife.  For warning against importing racial strife Collins was branded a racist.  Since that warning went unheeded, he was a Cassandra and his enemies did their worst to make him a pariah by the time he passed away in 2001.  More of his commentary on immigration and a host of other issues can be found in The Best and Worst of Doug Collins (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1987).  When this book was first published you could walk into an ordinary bookstore and buy it off the shelf.  When he died in 2001, the only obituaries I remember seeing were by Kevin Michael Grace in the Report and by Allan Fotheringham in MacLeans (I was never a fan of Foth but he showed a lot of class on this occasion).  The next book on my list on this topic is Ricardo Duchesne’s Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity and the Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians (London: Black House Publishing, 2017).  Of all recent books on Canadian immigration this is the closest to Collins’ in terms of what it is for and what it is against although it tackles the subject from an academic rather than a journalistic angle – Duchesne is a historical sociologist who until he was driven out by leftist colleagues a few years back was a professor in the social science department of the University of New Brunswick – and has the advantage of almost four more decades of history on which to comment.  Other books deserving mention are Charles M. Campbell’s Betrayal & Deceit: The Politics of Canadian Immigration (West Vancouver: Jasmine Books, 2000) and Mike Taylor’s The Truth About Immigration: Exposing the Economic and Humanitarian Myths (Coquitlam: KARMA Publishing, 1998).  These could be described as having been written from an insider’s perspective.  Campbell, an engineer in the mining industry by profession, served ten years on the old Immigration Appeal Board that existed before it was reorganized into the Immigration and Refugee Appeal Board in 1989 following the Supreme Court’s bad ruling in the Singh case in 1985.  Taylor had worked as an immigration investigator for the federal government before writing his book.

The current Liberal government that has taken rather the opposite view of immigration to that expressed in the books just mentioned has promoted a lot of hatred against Canada or at least the historical Canada.  They have also promoted a lot of ethno-masochism among Canadians of European ancestry.  I am not saying that these problems began with the present government, far from it, but they have been more aggressively promoted by this government than any prior and the means employed has been a narrative in which the history of the church-administered boarding schools that Canada used to fulfil her education obligations under the Indian treaties has been heavily distorted.   In response I will recommend two books both of which are edited collections by multiple authors.   The first is Rodney A. Clifton and Mark DeWolf ed. From Truth Comes Reconciliation: An Assessment of the Truth and Reconciliation Report (Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, 2021) and the second is C. P. Champion and Tom Flanagan ed. Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (And the Truth About Residential Schools) (Dorchester Books and True North Media, 2023).

Since my recommendations in the previous two paragraphs will have already driven any overly sensitive progressive into a fuming frenzy I will stoke the fire of their rage further by adding Down The Drain? A Critical Re-Examination of Canadian Foreign Aid, written by Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform co-founders Paul Fromm and James P. Hull and published in Toronto by Griffin House in 1981.  This is the best Canadian book that I have read on the subject of tax money being taken from working and middle class Canadians and either dumped into the bank accounts of Third World dictators or thrown away on wasteful projects in the Third World.  While the book is obviously in need of either an update or a sequel the issue, which had largely been dormant for a decade or more, has been brought back to life with a vengeance by the present Trudeau Liberals.

When it comes to the topic of the ongoing moral and social decay of our country and Western Civilization in general in the post-World War II era the best and certainly most exhaustive book by a Canadian that comes to my mind is The War Against the Family: A Parent Speaks Out On the Political, Economic, and Social Policies That Threaten Us All.  The author was the late William D. Gairdner who competed for Canada in the 1964 Summer Olympics before going to university and earning his Ph.D. and becoming a well-known small-c conservative speaker and writer.  This, his second book, was originally published in hardback in1992 by Stoddart of Toronto who released a paperback edition the following year.  After Stoddart folded, BPS Books of Toronto re-released the paperback edition in 2007 with a new cover which as far as I can tell is the only revision made.  In connection with this book I would also recommend by the same author The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2008).  Where the first book looks at such matters as “Compulsory Miseducation”, “Moral Values and Sex Ed”, “The Feminist Mistake: Women Against the Family”, “Women at War: On the Military, Day Care and Home Fronts”, “Radical Homosexuals vs. The Family”, “The Invisible Holocaust: Abortion vs. the Family” to give a few chapter titles in whole or in part from the perspective of the official policies behind the various changes involved the second book digs deeper and addresses the basic ideas of which the official policies are practical applications.

The War Against the Family included a chapter on euthanasia as well as a chapter on abortion and this has become a far more timely topic due to the present government’s having introduced the world’s most aggressive and extreme euthanasia policy in M.A.I.D.  Another book that addressed both abortion and euthanasia from the perspective of showing how the Modern technological way of thinking and doing has conditioned people to reject the older way of thinking about justice that rejected and condemned these things and to embrace a newer way of thinking that accepts them was George Grant’s final book Technology and Justice (Toronto: House of Ananasi Press, 1986).  The chapters on abortion and euthanasia are the last two in the book and these Grant co-wrote with his wife Sheila.

Bill Whatcott’s Born In a Graveyard: One man’s transformation from a violent, drug-addicted criminal into Canada’s most outspoken family values activist (Langley: Good Character Books, 2014) is the autobiography, or perhaps testimony would be a better word, of a man who has paid the price for translating his Christian views on these matters, especially abortion and homosexuality, into practice in the form of activism.  Whatcott was charged by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for distributing pamphlets that colourfully expressed his opinion about the alphabet soup gang’s public schools agenda.  The Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal ruled against Whatcott who appealed to what was then the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench (now King’s Bench) which upheld the Tribunal’s ruling, then to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal which ruled in favour of Whatcott causing the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada which held hearings in 2011 and unanimously ruled in 2013 that while Whatcott’s rights under section 2 of the Charter had indeed been violated those who so violated them were allowed to get away with it because of the loop-hole in section 1. Needless to say this asinine ruling in which the expression of “detestation” and “vilification” was declared to be outside the protection of free expression (I suspect that the “detestation” and “vilification” of white people, men, and Christians is treated as an exception) was not exactly a step in the direction of freeing Canadians from the unjust shackles of censorship and self-censorship that the first Trudeau introduced early in his premiership.  Today it is part of the legal precedent that the second Trudeau and his cronies look to in order to justify and explain their attempts to pass draconian laws telling us what we can and cannot say on the internet.   Since Whatcott is up before the Supreme Court again this time on charges pertaining to his creative evangelistic efforts at a Hubris parade in Toronto a sequel may be on the horizon.

Canada: History

The first book on Canadian history that I recommend is W. L. Morton’s The Kingdom of Canada: A General History from Earliest Times (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1963).  The author, who was born in Gladstone, was the head of the Department of History at the University of Manitoba from 1950 to 1964.  Among his other books, all of which are worth reading, are histories of the university and of the province.   Taking its name from the original full designation of the country proposed by the Fathers of Confederation this one-volume history of Canada ends on the eve of the second wave of seditious, Liberal, revolution-within-the-form under Pearson-Trudeau.

The second on my list would be the complete works of Donald G. Creighton.  Alright, you can omit Take-Over (Toronto: McClelland and Steward, 1978) because that is a novel, but The Young Politician (Toronto: Macmillan, 1952) and The Old Chieftain (Toronto: Macmillan, 1955), the two volumes of his biography of Sir John A. Macdonald must remain on the list for the story of the life of the foremost Father of Confederation is an absolutely essential part of Canadian history and no one tells it better than Creighton.  Read both volumes in the original editions if you can, but if you must read the current one-volume edition from the University of Toronto Press consider skipping over the introduction by Creighton’s own biographer, Donald Wright of the University of New Brunswick.  His apologizing for Creighton’s not holding to the stomach-churning, woke, entirely-wrong, perspectives of the present day are bad enough in his biography of Creighton without marring Creighton’s masterful account of Sir John’s life.  My recommendation again is for the entire corpus of Creighton’s writings.  I will not list them all but a few deserve special mention.  The book that earned him his reputation is one of these, The Commercial Empire of the St. Lawrence, 1760-1850 (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1937), in which Creighton tells the history of the use of the St. Lawrence River as a means of trade and transportation in the century leading up to Confederation.  Goldwyn Smith had written a book that was published in the year of Sir John A. Macdonald’s death in which he argued that Confederation was a mistake because it was a project undertaken against the natural north-south flow of trade in North America.  That year, the Canadian public gave their answer to Smith’s thesis by awarding Macdonald, who was running against Sir Wilfred Laurier’s Liberals who were campaigning on a platform of free trade, a landslide victory.  Creighton’s book was the scholarly answer.  Editions of it published from 1956 on have omitted the “Commercial” from the title.  His The Forked Road: Canada 1939-1957 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1976) was published as Volume XVIII, the penultimate of the Canadian Centenary Series that he and W. L. Morton had started and edited.  It can also be regarded as the last in a series of books that he authored bringing the history of Canada down from the pre-Confederation period that he covered in The Commercial Empire and The Road to Confederation: The Emergence of Canada, 1863-1867 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964) down to the end of the St. Laurent premiership.  While I don’t think anybody would claim that this was the best book he ever wrote it is too often criticized for taking the opinion that the Liberals under King and St. Laurent were leading the country down into the sewer if not lower.  Creighton died three years after it was published.  Imagine what he would have said if he had lived to write the history of the two Trudeau eras.

The penultimate entry in this section is David Orchard’s The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1993, revised and expanded edition Montreal: Robert Davies Multimedia Publishing: 1998).  This book is a history of Canadian resistance to continentalism and particularly to American economic conquest via free trade.  The first edition came out during the talks on expanding the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement that Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, both men betraying the protectionist traditions of their own parties, had signed in 1988 into the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which came into effect on the first day of 1994.  The expanded edition came out during Orchard’s campaign for the Progressive Conservative leadership in 1998.  This was also the occasion for the writing/compilation of Ron Dart’s The Red Tory Tradition: Ancient Roots, New Routes (Dewdney BC: Synaxis Press, 1999) which is why I am adding it here rather than in the general political philosophy section.

Canada: Christianity

The first book in this section will be the Right Rev. Philip Carrington’s The Anglican Church of Canada: A History (Toronto: Collins, 1963).  This book was first published the same year as W. L. Morton’s The Kingdom of Canada in which year the second wave of the Liberal subversion of the country began under the premiership of Lester Pearson.  A small-l, theological liberal subversion of the Church was already underway.  A small indication of that can be seen in the 1962 Canadian edition of the Book of Common Prayer, in which the Psalter is bowdlerized to omit the imprecatory portions of the Psalms, including the 58th in its entirety.   This was unfortunate in that it marred what is otherwise an excellent adaptation of the Restoration BCP of 1662.  It was a mild display of liberalism, however, compared to that which would soon sweep the Church leading to the present day in which I dare say most of the prelates wish that this history, written by the seventh Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec who went on to become the eleventh Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada, would be swept under the rug and forgotten.

With regards to the liberal sweep of the Church I recommend two books both written in the late 1990s.  Suicide – The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada? (Cambridge Publishing House, 1999) was written by Dr. Marney Patterson who was sometimes described as the “Anglican Billy Graham.” He wrote six other books with more uplifting topics and by the time he passed away two years ago had transferred to the Anglican Network in Canada.  A year prior to this Rev. George R. Eves had released Two Religions One Church: Division and Destiny in the Anglican Church of Canada (Saint John: V.O.I.C.E., 1998) which he has recently updated and made available as an e-book.  While the increasing willingness of the Church to depart from both Scripture and Tradition on the matter of moral theology as it pertains to those attracted to their own sex was the occasion for the writing of both of these books, Dr. Patterson and Rev. Eves both address the larger problem of liberalism.  Dr. Patterson dealt well with the matter of how the unwillingness to stand for unpopular Scriptural truth compromises the Church’s ability to evangelize.  Rev. Eves discussed how the introduction of the Book of Alternative Services, which in many parishes is not so much an alternative to the Book of Common Prayer but its replacement, was a victory for liberalism since on the lex orandi, lex credenda principle if you change the liturgy you change the belief.  These books both came out within five years of the conference sponsored by the Prayer Book Society, Anglican Renewal Ministries, and Barnabas Ministries for the purpose of addressing these concerns that produced the Montreal Declaration of Anglican Essentials.  The papers at the conference were edited by George Egerton and published as Anglican Essentials: Reclaiming Faith Within the Anglican Church of Canada (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995).

One of the speakers at the Montreal Essentials conference was the Rev. Dr. Robert D. Crouse, a priest and academic from Nova Scotia, where his home town was Crousetown, in which the house where he grew up was on Crouse Road (his family had lived there for centuries).  His address to the conference was entitled “Hope Which Does Not Disappoint” in which he warned against “that most dangerous of all sins” despair, to which souls, left weary and lethargic from the “widespread destruction of theological and liturgical tradition” resulting from the false persuasion that the ancient, ecumenical, and Anglican heritage is “somehow outmoded and inappropriate in the present time” are tempted and gave the timely reminder that our “spiritual health depends crucially on a revival of hope”, the virtue that is the opposite of the vice of despair, and which rests upon faith in the promises of God.  I cannot recommend a book that Dr. Crouse wrote because while he contributed to books and wrote plenty of reviews and articles, he never wrote a book qua book.  His doctoral dissertation was a translation.  Last year, however, Darton, Longman & Todd in London released three books compiled from his sermons.  These are Images of Pilgrimage: Paradise and Witness in Christian Spirituality, The Souls Pilgrimage – Volume 1: From Advent to Pentecost: The Theology of the Christian Year: The Sermons of Robert Crouse and The Soul’s Pilgrimage – Volume 2: The Descent of the Dove and the Spiritual Life: The Theology of the Christian Year: The Sermons of Robert Crouse.  He had talked to Essentials about the need for renewing the Christian spiritual life, these books describe what that very thing looks like.

Two other speakers at the Montreal Essentials conference were Ron Dart and J. I. Packer.  In response to a book by Michael Ingham, who occupied the See of New Westminster at the time and basically stood for the opposite of what Essentials stood for, they wrote In a Pluralist World (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1998) which returned to print in 2019 under the new title Christianity and Pluralism and published by Lexham Press in Bellingham.  While the origins of this book place it in the context of the same ecclesiastical turmoil that produced the books mentioned in the previous paragraphs Dart and Packer concentrate here on the question of the competing ways that have been proposed for Christians to deal with the competing truth claims of multiculturalism. Since I mentioned another book by Dart in the previous section I would add another book by Packer except that my favourites of his books were all written before he moved to Canada.   So read the revised editions.

One thing that Anglican bishops and fundamentalist Baptists have in common is that they tend to be great subjects for biographies and to write excellent autobiographies.  The Right Reverend John Cragg Farthing, father of the John Farthing mentioned in the first section (whose middle name was Colborne so this is not a case of Sr. and Jr. which requires all the names to match) and the Bishop of Montreal in the early twentieth century wrote an excellent memoir entitled Recollections of the Right Rev. John Cragg Farthing, Bishop of Montreal (1909-1939).  It was printed without any publication information but was likely published either by Farthing himself or by what would then have been called the Church of England in Canada at some point in the early 1940s. The Right Reverend John Strachan, the first Bishop of Toronto and an important figure in pre-Confederation Canada did not write his own biography but his successor the Right Reverend A. N. Bethune wrote a very readable Memoir of the Right Reverend John Strachan, D.D., D. C. L., First Bishop of Toronto (Toronto: Henry Rowsell, 1870).  If the title confuses you note that while “memoirs” and “autobiography” are often used interchangeably they are not the same thing.  An autobiography is when someone tells the story of his own life.  A memoir is recorded memory of something, an event, a person, whatever.  There is a lot of overlap but basically in an autobiography one’s self is always the subject whereas one’s memoir can be focused on the people and places and events one knew rather than on one’s self. An account of someone else’s life can be called a memoir if the writer knew the person well which is the case here.  Either type can be called a memoir.  If there is an s on the end it is referring either to more than one book or, less properly but more commonly, to the kind that overlaps with autobiography.  The Most Reverend Robert Machray, the second Bishop of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land to which my own parish belongs, became the first primate of what would become the Anglican Church of Canada.  His biography, written by a nephew of the same name, came out the year he died.  That is Robert Machray, Life of Robert Machray, Archbishop of Rupert’s Land (Toronto: Macmillan, 1909).

As for the fundamentalist Baptists, since we are listing Canadian books here the obvious biography to mention is Leslie K. Tarr’s Shields of Canada (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1967).  Like his subject, Leslie K. Tarr was a Baptist minister, as well as the first editor of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s publication Faith Today.  His subject, T. T. Shields was the pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto and of the Baptist preachers who fought for orthodoxy against encroaching liberalism in their denomination was by far the most prominent Canadian.  He joined the short-lived Baptist Bible Union and in consequence is usually remembered alongside that group’s co-founders, W. B. Riley of Minneapolis and J. Frank Norris of Fort Worth as a sort of triumvirate of the Baptist fundamentalism of the era.  Honourable mention goes to Lois Neely’s Fire In His Bones: The Official Biography of Oswald J. Smith (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 1982).  Oswald J. Smith was not a Baptist.  He was first ordained a Presbyterian minister, then switched to Christian and Missionary Alliance (the founder of which, A. B. Simpson, was originally a Presbyterian from Prince Edward Island), before founding the non-denominational megachurch the People’s Church of Toronto.  As pastor of People’s Church before handing the reins over to his son Paul B. Smith he was probably the best known evangelical preacher in Canada in the twentieth century.  I’ll also throw in Perry F. Rockwood’s Triumph in God: The Life Story of Radio Pastor Perry F. Rockwood (Halifax: The People’s Gospel Hour, 1974).  At fifty-seven pages and staple bound it is a booklet rather than a book and the only one to make it into this list.  Rockwood was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Canada in 1943 which at that point consisted of the parishes that had opted to remain Presbyterian after most, about seventy percent, had joined with the Methodists to become the United Church in 1925.   While one might think that those who opted out of the merger would be very conservative and orthodox it was only a few years after his ordination that Rockwood was hauled before an ecclesiastical court over four sermons he gave on the subject of “The Church Sick unto Death” and while a case could made that he was indeed guilty of the charge of “divisiveness” a stronger case can be made that those who put him on trial were guilty of exactly what he charged them with in the sermons i.e., the greater crime of defecting, not only from the Presbyterian Westminster Confession but from the basic Christian faith as confessed in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. The four sermons are reproduced in full in his autobiography.

This section would not be complete without The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a twelve-volume history of Christianity that was produced from 2001 to 2013.  The idea for it came from the late Ted Byfield, most remembered as the founding editor and publisher of the Alberta Report newsmagazine the final version of which folded in 2003 the year the first volume was published.  Byfield served as general editor of the series.  The series was published out of Edmonton under the imprint of The Christian History Project which after 2006 came under the aegis of SEARCH, the Society to Explore And Record Christian History.  I exclude volume 10 from the recommendation because it presents the Enlightenment, the separation of church and state, and basically the Modern way of doing things or liberalism as the product, albeit unintended, of Christianity rather than what it actually is, the embodiment of the Modern Age’s apostasy from and rebellion against Christianity.  Byfield began his Christian walk as an orthodox Anglican and joined the Eastern Orthodox Church in the events mentioned previously in this section and so has no excuse for not knowing better.

Canada – Humour

All of Stephen Leacock’s fiction can be included here, as can, for that matter, his non-fiction for even when writing on serious subjects he was funny.

Peter V. Macdonald, Q. C., a lawyer from Hanover had a column that appeared in the Toronto Star entitled “Court Jesters” in which he recounted hilarious true anecdotes from courtrooms across Canada.  A compilation of these was published as Court Jesters: Canada’s Lawyers and Judges Take the Stand to Relate Their Funniest Stories (Toronto: Stoddart, 1985).  This was followed up by a sequel More Court Jesters: Back to the Bar for More of the Funniest Stories from Canada’s Courts (Toronto: Stoddart, 1987) and then Return of the Court Jesters: By Popular Demand More of the Funniest Stories From Canada’s Courts (Toronto: Stoddart, 1990).  I received the first one of these for Christmas one year and annoyed my family for days with loud laughter.  There are also versions of at least the first two books in which the anecdotes are illustrated with cartoons.  It appears he also wrote a book with funny police stories.  I have not seen a copy although I have read a similar book by Bruce Day, a retired police officer here in Winnipeg, that was self-published in 1995 and is entitled Stop! Police Humour.

Another collection of hilarious true stories is Ben Wicks’ Book of Losers (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979).  The author whose name is indeed part of the title was best known as a cartoonist.  He followed it up with Ben Wicks’ More Losers (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1982).  It should be obvious what these stories are like but if not here is the definition of a loser provided at the beginning of the first book “A German tourist, en route to the west coast, who steps off his plane in Bangor, Maine, and spends four days there thinking he is in California.”  Actually that is quite mild compared to what happens to most of the people in the book.  Wicks’ wrote and illustrated several other books of humour.  The only two that I have read are his Ben Wicks’ Canada and Ben Wicks’ Women which were also published by McClelland and Stewart in 1976 and 1978 respectively.

Canada – Fiction

I will not be listing all the titles and bibliographic details in this section because it would be very tedious due to the number of lengthy series included.  What I recommend under this heading are all the works of fiction of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Robertson Davies, and Mazo de la Roche.  Remember that this recommended reading list, neither in whole nor in any section, is intended to be exhaustive, and that non-mention of an author does not constitute a recommendation against.  There are Canadian writers that I would recommend against but I am not going to name them here because that is not the purpose of this list.

L. M. Montgomery is, of course, internationally famous as the author of Anne of Green Gables, the first in a series of eight novels chronicling the life of the title character.  Two collections of short stories, Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea are also part of the Anne of Green Gables continuity.  If you remember Kevin Sullivan’s television series Road to Avonlea it was based in part on these short stories although the main characters of that series were taken from The Story Girl and The Golden Road neither of which were connected to the Anne storyline in Montgomery’s original novels.  She wrote several other novels, some in series such as the Emily of New Moon trilogy, others stand alone.

Robertson Davies tended to write his fiction in trilogies, including those that he wrote as “Samuel Marchbanks” the pen-name he used when writing for the Peterborough Examiner in his time as editor.   A selection of his Marchbanks pieces were collected and published as three volumes, although it is best, in my opinion, to read them in the later omnibus edition The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks for while some abridgement takes place you also get a great introduction in which Davies interviews his alter-ego Marchbanks. There are three completed trilogies of novels that are usually called the Salterton, Deptford and Cornish trilogies, the first two after the fictional locations in which they are set, the third after the character whose death sets off the plot of the first novel and whose life is told in the second.  Davies started a fourth trilogy, set in Toronto, but only completed two of the novels.  The earliest of these trilogies, the Salterton, is my favourite.  Davies also wrote several plays but only one book of short stories, High Spirits, a collection of the ghost stories that he composed to tell at Massey College at the school’s Gaudy Night each year while he was Master (president, headmaster, principal) there.

Mazo de la Roche was for much of the twentieth century the single most read Canadian novelist.  An interesting piece of trivia is that she is buried in St. George’s Anglican cemetery at Sibbald Point in Sutton West the other most famous resident of which is Stephen Leacock whose grave is very close to hers.  She wrote short stories and plays as well, but is most remembered for her twenty some novels of which the most read are the Jalna series, a family saga, somewhat like a novelized soap opera, spanning one century over sixteen books.  Jalna was the first published in 1927.  Its title is the name of the family estate or more properly the manor on the estate where the novels are set.  The family that live there bear the last name Whiteoak and so the series is also known albeit less commonly as the Whiteoak saga.  The hero of the saga is Renny Whiteoak, who inherits the estate and the role if not the authority of family patriarch from his father and grandfather, fights in both World Wars, and breeds and rides show horses while trying to raise his own younger brothers and keep the struggling estate afloat.   We had a number of hard cover editions of these books in the family library when I was a child.  The ones I remember usually featured Renny on a horse on the cover.  The real ruler of the family was Renny’s grandmother Adeline whom the family called Gran, a sharp-tongued old woman who kept them all in line by not disclosing the sole beneficiary of her will and who had a parrot that she taught to make extremely rude remarks in Hindi.  The books were not published in order of internal chronology, although as with C. S. Lewis’ children’s novels subsequent re-print editions have numbered them in that order. The last of the series to be published, Morning at Jalna, which came out in 1960 the year before de la Roche died, is second in internal chronology, being set just prior to Confederation in the period in which the American North and South were fighting.  This book’s not-so-subtle sympathy with the South was a not-so-subtle expression of de la Roche’s contemptuous opinion of the “second Reconstruction” then underway in the United States.  That such sentiment prevented neither the publication of the novel nor the adaptation of the entire series into the television mini-series The Whiteoaks of Jalna and by CBC nonetheless about ten years after her death demonstrates how much healthier and saner our country was in terms of not having to toe a party line on liberal social values before two generations of Trudeaus messed everything up.  The last of the novels in terms of internal chronology was Centenary at Jalna and it was set in the year in which it is was published, 1954.  That it is set exactly one hundred years after the story begins, as the title indicates, would suggest that this was where de la Roche intended the saga to end, although the ending of the novel itself very much suggests otherwise

That brings this list to a close.  If you are looking for something to read this Dominion Day because some Canada-hating woke jackasses have cancelled the celebrations in your area try one or more of these.

Happy Dominion Day!

God Save the King!

Posted by Gerry T. Neal at 12:30 AM

Labels: Dominion Day, Donald Creighton, Eugene Forsey, George Grant, John Farthing, John G. Diefenbaker, L. M. Montgomery, Mazo De La Roche, Peter V. Macdonald, Robertson Davies, Ron Dart, Stephen Leacock, W. L. Morton