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How Canadian Boomers Spirited the Sixties Into the 21st Century

Far be it from me to poke anybody's bear. But I did have a lot of fun writing the short essay that turns up under the above title in the latest Canadian Issues. Here's how it begins . . . .

We oldest Canadian Boomers, born in the later 1940s, came of age in the 1960s. Entering our twenties, we discovered strength in numbers. When the Beatles sang, “You say you want a Revolution,” we said: yes! Yes, we do! We were going to change the world. We heard Bob Dylan. The times they were a changin’. We heard Timothy Leary: Turn on, tune in, drop out. Never trust anyone over thirty. Some of us hitchhiked to San Francisco with flowers in our hair. Meanwhile, during Expo ’67, the world came to Montreal. The year after that, hundreds of thousands of Boomers became eligible to vote in a federal election for the first time. We created Trudeaumania. We turned a provocative intellectual into a political rock star. Trudeau the Bold stared down rock-throwing separatists, removed the state from the bedrooms of the nation, and began turning Canada into a global beacon of tolerance and diversity.
 Where earlier generations could look only to those who preceded them, we Boomers revelled in a vast peer group. We gazed out at an international youth culture. As teenagers, we had caught James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Marlon Brando in The Wild One. A decent, law-abiding citizen asks the Brando character, “What are you rebelling against?” From his motorcycle, the leather-jacketed Brando responds:  “What have you got?”
Along came the swivelling Elvis, and then Motown, Baby Love, soul music,  Midnight Train to Georgia, and through it all the transcendent Dylan. He went electric but never stopped protesting. I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More. From our American cousins, we learned how to protest: civil rights, ban the bomb, women’s liberation. The Sixties blasted into the early 1970s. The youngest Boomers were  children, but the insurgents were eighteen to twenty-seven.
In his book Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of the Millennium, sociologist Michael Adams calls us Autonomous Rebels. We were numerous enough to create our own heroes. Those we accepted as “tribal elders” included the nationalist Pierre Berton (b. 1920), who attacked organized religion in The Comfortable Pew; political journalist Peter C. Newman (b. 1929), who took a scalpel to The Canadian Establishment; and Mordecai Richler (b. 1931), a literary superstar who rejoiced to puncture pretension and political correctness. Oh Canada, Oh Quebec. Yet probably our all-time favorite elder was Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), the romantic troubadour who insisted that Magic Is Alive while celebrating sex and revolution.
By the 1980s and ‘90s, the Autonomous Rebels were producing leaders. Maude Barlow (b. 1947) fought first for women’s rights, then against too-free-trade with our mighty neighbor, and finally, globally, to halt the sale of water rights. Linda McQuaig (b. 1951) decried the rich and reactionary so effectively that one of them suggested she should be horsewhipped. More recently, Naomi Klein, who wasn’t born until 1970, has emerged as an international leader in the Boomer tradition. She is spearheading the charge against globalization and increasing inequality. What are we rebelling against? What have you got?
Back in 1960s Canada, female Boomers learned from such Americans as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, who emulated the civil-rights movement to launch “women’s liberation.” Feminist elders in this country included journalist Doris Anderson (b. 1921) and Flora MacDondald (b. 1926), who came to political prominence in the mid-1970s. Fiction writer Margaret Laurence (b. 1926) wrote powerful novels and battled fundamentalist Christians, and led us in recognizing that Canadian writers constitute “a tribe.”
Feminism soon found younger champions: Margaret Atwood (b. 1939), Joni Mitchell (b. 1943), Judy Rebick (b. 1945). Women gained editorial control of Canadian book publishing, among them such figures as Anna Porter, Louise Dennys, Phyllis Bruce, Iris Tupholme, Cynthia Good. Boomers like Maude Barlow created their own platforms, and today new revolutionaries are reshaping the feminist landscape, among them Irshad Manji (b. 1968), Karen Connelly (b. 1969), and thirty-something Lauren McKeon, whose first book is F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism. . . .


Lots of great yadda yadda yadda. And here's how the piece ends:

But wait. While in the United States, angry white guys contrived to elect a self-indulgent whacko as president, Canadian Boomers led the way in driving Harper and his cronies from the corridors of power. Sociologically speaking, the Autonomous Rebels and Connected Enthusiasts made common cause long enough to elect Trudeau the Son as prime minister. Justin smokes weed, practices yoga, and marches for Gay Pride. We’ve spirited the Sixties into the 21st Century. Our work here is done.

Ken McGoogan
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Parks Canada meets Order of Canada in Arctic Return Expedition

Fifteen months and counting --to Departure, that is -- and already the Arctic Return expedition is making headlines. First, partner Louie Kamookak was appointed to the Order of Canada. Awright, Louie! Well deserved! Then, adventurer Dave Garrow joined the team. Welcome aboard, Dave! Faithful readers got to meet Louie here.  And we're excited to bring aboard Dave, a mighty impressive addition who happens to be a long-time John Rae fan. But over on our website, he sounds like this:
An adventurer and landscape ecologist, Dave Garrow (M.Sc.) has a visceral draw to Canada’s cold, mountainous regions and has spent the last two decades exploring these wild places including ski expeditions to the Juneau, Stikine and Patagonian Ice Caps, Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains, Arctic Canada (Baffin and Bylot Island) and throughout the western mountain ranges of Canada.  When not travelling, he works for Parks Canada in Banff National Park, Alberta as a human-wildlife conflict specialist, and moonlights as a polar bear interpretive guide in Churchill, Manitoba.  Trained as a landscape ecologist, Dave works towards managing the complex and evolving interface between visitor use and ecological integrity on our wild spaces with a focus on carnivore behaviour and management.   He lives in Banff with his wife Mindy Johnstone and daughter Charly where they run the local yoga studio and play in the hills with their four year old golden retriever, Happy.

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.