Ken McGoogan is the author of four Canadian bestsellers about the search for the Northwest Passage, all of which have been published internationally: Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, and Race to the Polar Sea. His awards include the Pierre Berton Award for History, the Writers’ Trust of Canada Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, the Canadian Authors’ Association History Award, the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography, and an American Christopher Award for a work of artistic excellence that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” Ken made a cameo appearance in the BBC docudrama based on his book Fatal Passage.
He serves as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and sails in the Northwest Passage as a resource historian with Adventure Canada. Ken reviews books for the Globe and Mail, writes a column for Canada's History magazine and, in October 2010, published How the Scots Invented Canada.
No matter where you enter the history of Canada -- through exploration, politics, business, education, or literature – you find Scots and their descendants playing a leading role. Yet Canadians of Scottish origin, who today total 4.7 million, have never made up more than sixteen per cent of the country’s population. Baffled by this, Ken McGoogan set out to discover how so few Scots have achieved so much.
He traces how, often in alliance with native peoples, Scottish fur-traders such as Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, and the “Scotch West-Indian” James Douglas charted coastlines and established boundaries. A second wave of Scots, among them John A. Macdonald, James McGill, and Nellie McClung, unified far-flung colonies, forged a unique system of government, and created the framework of a country.
Then came the visionaries, Scottish Canadians like Tommy Douglas, James Houston, Doris Anderson, and Marshall McLuhan, who have turned Canada into a kaleidoscopic nation that revels in diversity, and the world’s first post-modern state.
McGoogan toasts Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott; recalls the first settlers to stumble ashore at Pictou, Nova Scotia; shakes his head over rogues like George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company; and celebrates such hybrids as the Cherokee Scot John Norton and Cuthbert Grant, father of the Métis nation. In How the Scots Invented Canada, Ken McGoogan uncovers the lost history of a nation-building miracle.