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Major shout-out to Manitoba history buffs and Scottish Country Dancers

Whew! Talk about a crazy couple of weeks. How the Scots is like a tail grown far too fond of swinging around an old dog. Of course, I love it. But I want to do a double shout-out. Huge thanks, first to Harry Duckworth and friends at the Manitoba Historical Society. They flew me to Winnipeg to address the 46th annual John A. Macdonald Dinner at the Fort Garry Hotel, and gave me an incredibly warm welcome, starting with a pre-event dinner at Cafe Carlo. The Macdonald extravaganza unfolded two Saturdays ago, and drove the Scots to the top of the Winnipeg bestseller list. Then, this past Saturday, the Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society of Toronto had me and Sheena reeling around at the Royal York Hotel. Not only that, but they went far, far beyond the call of duty -- I'm thinking Louis Racic, Margaret Reiger, Barbara Taylor AND their spouses -- in getting us up to speed for the 48th annual Tartan Ball (more or less up to speed, I mean, for at least three dances). No mean feat! And to cap it all off with a bottle of Lagavulin? Well, what can I say: HUGE THANKS!
Ken McGoogan
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Northern Exposure

Our hero turns up Saturday (Feb. 19) in the Globe and Mail reviewing The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler. . . .

"Toward the end of this book, Sara Wheeler describes a recent visit to the medieval Solovki monastery in Siberia, located on an island in the White Sea near the Arctic Circle. Solovki “had functioned as a dumping ground for undesirables for centuries,” she writes, while evoking both a grim today of true-believer tour guides and a horrendous yesterday of massacres, rapes, tortures and mutilations. . . ."
To read the rest, click here.
Ken McGoogan
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In Praise of the Maple Leaf Tartan

The inclusiveness of it. That's what I like about the Maple Leaf tartan.  That's what makes it special. The waistcoat I wear when I sally forth in formal dress? The matching tie? They are in the Maple Leaf tartan. So now a Liberal senator is proposing a bill to establish that tartan as the official national tartan. The tartan was registered in 2008. To make it official requires only a government proclamation. And surely this is overdue? Any Canadian who wishes to embrace the Scottish pluralism of Canada -- the multi-ethnic and multi-racial dimension of the country, as introduced early by such figures as Major John Norton, the Cherokee Scot, and James Douglas, the "Scottish West Indian" -- can join the parade in the Maple Leaf tartan.  While we're at it (checking the above link), let's also establish April 6 as Tartan Day in Canada. Stand fast, Craigellachie!
Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.