The Mail

The Mail

July 13 1998
The Mail

The Mail

July 13 1998

The Mail

Canada's best

Your choice of former Gov. Gen. Georges P. Vanier as the most important Canadian in Canada’s history is right on target (“The 100 Most Important Canadians in History,” Cover, July 1). In the 1960s, I had the honor of being on the household staff of the Vaniers, and if ever Canada had a statesman who was loved and respected not only in Canada but around the world, it was Georges Vanier. Although I witnessed many historical events, and saw many famous visitors to Rideau Hall, the event that stands out in my mind occurred on a tour of New Brunswick. A little girl came forward to present flowers to Madame Vanier and, after the customary curtsy, she started to walk away, but was called back by the governor general, who stood up, bent over and kissed her hand. It has often been said that a great man is not always remembered by his great deeds, but by his many acts of kindness, understanding and compassion towards others.

David A. Blackman, Ottawa

David Thompson cannot be ignored and left from the Discoverers list. He explored, mapped and recorded information on the vast western area of Canada. Also, I must laugh at the inclusion of architect Arthur Erickson. I worked in the new Canadian Embassy in Washington for the first two years it was open. For one who spent many hours in the building, it was dreary, grey, raw concrete, and very depressing.

George A. Godwin, Victoria

I look forward to the July 1 issue of your magazine. It always makes me realize how little Canadian history I was taught in school. This year’s issue was no different. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about people that I knew, thought I knew, or had never heard of before. Well done.

Deborah Beckers,

Burlington, Ont.

For me, the Nation Builders will include the two greatest prime ministers: Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. But beyond them, I shall always look to the men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 19141918. These people knew about suffering and sacrifice and what it was to be Canadian. As well as them, the next generation, who grew up in the Depression and then went off to fight Nazism, were the Nation Builders: the Mackenzie Kings, Trudeaus and Bourassas simply dotted a few i’s and crossed a few t’s.

Shaun R. G. Brown, Vancouver

I am astounded at your placement of K. C. Irving at the top of your list of Entrepreneurs. While I shan’t disagree with Irving’s moneymaking talent, I must disagree with your magazine’s recognition of a man who went to such great means to funnel money out of Canada. In a country with the difficulties Canada has, isn’t it up to Canada’s Weekly Newsmagazine to take a leadership role

and not celebrate those who take the money and run? I, too, am an entrepreneur. Unlike Irving, however, I do not intend to take as much as I can from a country that has already given me so much.

K. D. O’Cain, Qualicum Beach, B. C.

How sadly ironic that following Nellie McClung in the Heroes list, who established women as “persons,” you would include Henry Morgentaler, who denies the personhood of unborn children. The movement of abortion from the back alley to the doctor’s office makes the act no less offensive.

Susan Nisbet, La Salle, Man.

How a group of reasonably intelligent people could possibly consider including Celine Dion on a list of “The 100 Most Important Canadians,” while excluding Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Robbie Robertson, Burton Cummings, Hank Snow, Bruce Cockburn and scores of other important Canadian songwriters, is unimaginable to me.

Jim Falconer, Toronto

I commend you for your tribute to the “Most Important Canadians.” This is a worthwhile endeavor, although fraught with difficulties. I think a separate Writers category should have been established, as a list that leaves out Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood and Emile Nelligan has some gaping holes in it.

Robert Normey, Edmonton

You list Pierre Elliott Trudeau as the number 2 Nation Builder of Canada. Many Canadians, including myself, would disagree with this listing. Canada is still reeling from the destructive Trudeau years and personal-agenda politics. It was he who started us on the road to a massive nation-


should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters

777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7

Fax: (416) 596-7730


Maclean’s welcomes readers' views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number.

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Anybody who fears that Canadians are ill-informed or uninterested in Canada's past and her people, would be cheered by the reaction to “The 100 Most Important Canadians in History.” Actually, the flow of letters started before the list appeared, when readers eagerly answered the invitation to send in their nominations for The 100. Publication of the July 1 cover package brought in 75 more letters. Many agreed with the selections made by Prof. Jack Granatstein and his panel of experts; many did not—especially when it came to the inclusion of Pierre Elliott Trudeau as a Nation Builder. Others argued for those they believed should have been included. All were passionate.


al debt and plunged us into the national unity crisis. He gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that may have helped a minority of Canadians, but has torn the heart out of common-sense laws and standards for the great majority.

Eric J. Bysouth, Langley, B. C.

I would like to point out that Maurice Richard made his name during the Second World War, when many of his generation were giving their all in the war and competition was at its lowest.

Hugh Hedlin, Watrous, Sask.

It is incredible to me that a so-called national magazine completely ignores the one-third of Canadians not residing in Ontario or Quebec. Nation Builders such as former B.C. premier W. C. Bennett and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein are not even mentioned. Rather, for some unknown reason, you hail Pierre Trudeau, who dodged service in the Second World War, had a horrible fiscal track record and was no doubt the man most responsible for our current polarization.

Bill Mathisen, Vancouver

Could someone please explain to me why George Grant, the most important Thinker in Canada during the last half of the 20th century, was left off the list? How is it that a man recognized throughout North America and Europe as one of the most creative and disciplined minds of our time was not chosen by a group of Ontario and Quebec panelists? Perhaps because only one of your “experts” is from the Maritimes, the place where Grant chose to live and write.

Kevin Little, Halifax

Your special issue turned out to be nothing more than a blatant exercise in political correctness. In fact, Jack Granatstein even admits to the panel’s slant towards political cor-

Quebec bashing

I’m so tired of your Quebec-bashing (“Pride and prejudice,” From the Editor, June 22). Your article is as mean-spirited as the man you quote [attacking the rules for school elections]—except that you have more power. You prove once more that Quebec does not have the monopoly on small minds.

As long as English Canada continues to idolize Canadians who made it in the United States (“America By Canadians,” Cover, June 22), you are reinforcing my belief that without Quebec, Canada would long ago have been gulped up by the United States— crying thank-you all the while.

Marcelle Duguay, Montreal

rectness where he states in his opening article: ‘We tried to offset this [weighting of dead white males] by ranging widely over time and taking account of the requirements of balance—regional, gender and ethnic— and we endeavored to be inclusive.” But why must there be a requirement of balance? Had it turned out that “The 100 Most Important Canadians in History” were “dead white males,” so what? It seems to me that the panel’s only purpose was to reflect reality.

Art Heapy, Calgary

Pity you didn’t create an Institutions category. Surely, Maclean’s would rank right up there with the CBC as one of the great forces helping Canadians to develop both a sense of identity and a deeper understanding of their history and culture.

Cam Murray, Kamloops, B. C.

A degree of criticism

In “Farewell to equal access” Quly 1), Ann Dowsett Johnston touts the liberal arts degree for generating a graduate with “critical, creative and analytical thinking.” My personal experience as an engineer is that a far greater percentage of engineers can discuss Chaucer and a wide variety of other liberal arts material, than liberal arts graduates can discuss any scientific or technical discipline. Given the impact of technology on our lives today, that gap is inexcusable. The liberal arts program, moreover, is confounded by the tendency of people who do not know what they want, or

who are uncertain of their capabilities, to seek that degree and thus dilute the overall quality of a program that does produce some excellent graduates.

Glen C. Bodie, Toronto

As a philosophy graduate, while I appreciate Ann Dowsett Johnson’s concerns for our job prospects, she did not consider that a philosophy degree can be the best foundation for further study in more vocationally pragmatic fields. Past surveys indicate that undergraduate philosophy majors enjoy a high acceptance rate (sometimes the highest) in medical, law and graduate management schools. Philosophy graduates who supplement their degree with marketable skills guarantee their entry to the workforce and their ability to progress to leadership positions—in other words, they have the best of both worlds.

Andrew Yu, Kingston, Ont.

'Hollywood standards'

You state, in your review of The Opposite of Sex, that Christina Ricci is “a slightly pudgy fille fatale" (“Smart and sultry,” Films, July 1). Slightly pudgy? I can see no basis for this description other than Ricci does not look like she’s about to keel over from malnutrition. If you think that the healthy body of a young woman qualifies as pudgy, then you have clearly absorbed too many Hollywood standards.

Caitlin Bigsby, Vancouver