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1.  Writer and editor Linda Richards did a superb job with this Q&A, which is why it still stands up. She published it in January Magazine . . . in April, 2002! 

It has all of the earmarks of a gripping novel: exploration, adventure, tragedy and triumph. Even an earnest hero, a mystery and a villain. In fact, when Ken McGoogan came upon the story of Arctic adventurer John Rae, his first thought was for fiction. The further he delved into the perplexing story, however, the more important he thought it was. Writing it as fiction, McGoogan felt, would make the tale less credible. "So I set aside the novel project to tell the true story: to set the record straight."

The story is almost beyond belief. According to McGoogan, John Rae is the actual discoverer of the final link of the Northwest Passage, not Sir John Franklin as the history books have always reported. Franklin's party had been lost in the Arctic. Rae found out what happened to them. Back in England, Rae's reports met with shock, horror and -- ultimately -- disbelief. Rae wrote that, "From the mutilated state of many of the corpses and the contents of the kettles, it is evident that our wretched countrymen had been driven to the last resource -- cannibalism -- as a means of prolonging existence."

Leading those who vilified the returning adventurer was the unfortunate Sir John's widow, Lady Jane Franklin, who wanted her late husband remembered as a hero: and certainly not be tainted by the brush of cannibalism. Exceedingly well connected, she enlisted the aid of friends in the highest places in her smear campaign against John Rae, including the leading novelist of the day, Charles Dickens.

While on a press fellowship at Cambridge, McGoogan stumbled over the beginnings of the mystery around why John Rae -- by most accounts a good and decent man -- had been denied his rightful place in history.

The author of four novels, former books editor at The Calgary Herald and author of the non-fiction Canada's Undeclared War: Fighting Words from the Literary Trenches, McGoogan was able to bring all of his writing skills to work with Fatal Passage. McGoogan himself describes the work as creative non-fiction, which he defines as "the application of fictional techniques to factual material."

Fatal Passage was awarded the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and has been shortlisted for the Writers Guild of Alberta/Wilfred Eggleston Award for non-fiction. [It won that and a few other awards.]

Linda Richards: I understand that you initially conceived Fatal Passage as a novel.
Ken McGoogan: I was going to write a novel. That was one of the interesting things about this, I was able to apply my background as a fiction writer to the factual material. I found that particular skill set very useful. And then combining it with the journalistic research skill set, which is different. But when I went to Cambridge ... I initially thought I was going to write a contemporary novel with a historical aspect. The historical aspect focusing on John Rae.

When were you at Cambridge?
That would have been 1998, for three months in the fall.

Is that when you discovered the story of John Rae?
Yes. What happened was, I found out after I realized I was going to try and write something about Rae, that they housed his unpublished autobiography at Cambridge. There's a place called the Scott Polar Research Institute and they have this 821-page palimpsest -- handwritten -- that Rae put together and has never been published. In addition to all kinds of correspondence. And then there's an extraordinary library at Cambridge in and of itself because it's one of two or three holding libraries in the UK. Theoretically, at least, every book published in the UK has a home at Cambridge. So I had access to extraordinary resources there.
As I researched John Rae and his story I realized: Hey, wait a minute. This is far more important than I realized and if I write it as a novel, people will be able to dismiss it. They'll say: Aw, McGoogan, he's just making it up, we don't have to take it seriously. I set aside the novel project to tell the true story: to set the record straight.

You brought your fiction skills with you to Fatal Passage. Did that help you flesh some things out?
Absolutely. One of the things I've been doing since I've become a full-time writer is doing a little teaching, as well. I'm very interested in questions of craft. I always have been. And in creative non-fiction, which I define in a nutshell as being the application of fictional techniques to factual material. So that's precisely what I find myself doing. I certainly see this work as an example [of creative non-fiction]. And one of the interesting things for me [is that] it exhausted all the craft I have.

You said you wanted to tell the real story of John Rae. What were the false stories?
The central mythology is that surrounding Sir John Franklin. I don't know about you, but when I was a boy I learned that the discoverer of the Northwest Passage was Sir John Franklin. What I discovered at Cambridge was that that is essentially a myth created by Lady Jane Franklin with the aid of Charles Dickens and a number of other establishment figures.

How did John Rae's story get suppressed?
Because of the controversy. Rae returned to Victorian England with news of what had happened to the Franklin expedition: how it ended in disaster and degenerated into cannibalism. They did not want to hear that in Victorian England. And so they mounted a campaign to erase him from history, in effect. Attributing his discoveries and accomplishments to others, for example. And so Rae was well on his way to receiving a knighthood but suddenly -- presto change-o -- he became persona non grata as a result of the revelations that he made. And they made that stick. They didn't want to hear from Rae because to hear from Rae was to accept the truth of cannibalism. And that was OK for Hottentots or Inuit, but it was not OK for a man of the Royal Navy.

Was it like killing the messenger? Because he told them what had happened and they -- in one way or another -- blamed him for it.
In effect that's right. They were shooting the messenger.
Maybe he shouldn't have said anything.
That was the thing about Rae: he had too much integrity to do that. If he'd kept his mouth shut -- if he'd backed down and said: Oh, maybe I had it wrong. Maybe the Inuit are the murderers and savages you think they are. [They would have said:] OK John, here's your knighthood. But he wasn't prepared to sell out the Native Peoples. He wasn't prepared to back down in that way. He insisted on sticking to his guns and holding to the truth and that's one of the many reasons that I respect him so much.

Do Rae's ancestors know how poorly history has treated him?
Well, they're finding out now when they're reading my book.

But they didn't know before?
Not really. No one has made the case and has looked at all of it before.

None of the family knew anything?
They all knew bits and pieces, but in the same way that we all know bits and pieces of our family: that at least is what people have been telling me so far. And they're very excited about the book, as you can imagine.

Are you a Canadian?
Yes. Born and bred in Montreal.

And it's funny, as a Canadian, that you discovered this person so important to Canadian history when you were at Cambridge.
Yeah. There were all kinds of ironies and synchronicities involved in this baby. It was something that I didn't set out to do, either. It was like a gift that was given to me. You hear about that kind of thing happening: it was like a revelation happening on the road to Damascus. [A charming grin.] It was a gradual and growing unease initially, as I was there in Cambridge. And I had a very nice large room upstairs in a house. [Big enough to] walk around in, with a table over here and -- nothing fancy, but quite comfortable. And I can still remember: you see, first of all there was this growing unease. Something's wrong here: They told me that Franklin discovered the Passage, but when I look at a map and I see that he was frozen here off King William Island and that there's no Passage down here navigable by ships, I don't see how he discovered the Passage. On the other hand, I see over here on the other side of the island that Rae Strait does afford the Passage and that's the Passage through which Roald Amundsen sailed in becoming the first one to sail through the Northwest Passage. So there's a contradiction here. I began to explore that more and more thoroughly. I actually ended up, on this one night, jumping out of my chair. I'm a fairly histrionic individual anyway, I think it's the French Canadian in me. But, literally, pacing around the room because I was seized by the realization that I had to abandon what I was doing. This was too important: I had a responsibility to set the record straight. That was just how it was going to be. It was that precise and dramatic in its arrival. There was that moment when I knew: OK, I'm abandoning what I've been pursuing -- the outlines, the beginning and so forth is all history now -- and I'm going to tell the right true story.

What did you abandon?
The novel that I had projected. Which was going to be a contemporary novel. A.S. Byatt wrote a novel called Possession in which you have a couple of researchers and they're perusing a manuscript and there's a historical backdrop to that. I was thinking along those lines. So it was the contemporary novel that I junked in order to set the record straight.

So you are, in your own way, an explorer.
I'm an explorer, but I stumbled across it. I stumbled across the story.

But the way you describe it it seems obvious. It makes you wonder how nobody ever saw it.
It is interesting in that respect, but to shift the metaphor slightly: I feel like the kid at the parade. Everybody is talking about the emperor's new clothes and I look up and I'm the small still voice crying: Well, the emperor is not wearing any clothes. [Laughs] Only at that point some people begin to admit: Well, yeah, I don't see any clothes, either but we've all kind of agreed that he's wearing clothes.

Now there are all those history books to rewrite.
That's right! [Laughs]

Is that going to happen?
I think it should happen. Maybe Fatal Passage is like a pebble in a pond and it will start to ripple outwards. Certainly I think I make the case and it has large-scale implications and ramifications for the way we view our history, undoubtedly. I mean, to me the story of Franklin is subsidiary to the story of John Rae and why have we been, for so long, virtually celebrating this disaster -- incompetence and disaster -- when we could be celebrating excellence and achievement. I mean, if John Rae were an American, he'd be Davy Crockett. We'd be wearing coonskin caps and there'd be a miniseries and [we'd be] singing about him. But we haven't done that: not yet anyway. Maybe we're due for a change. Can we accept a real Canadian hero? This was before Canada, per se, but he's our hero. We can claim him.

Have you heard dissenting voices? Have people argued against your findings?
Yes. Well, official history will always have its doughty defenders and at least one of them has come out of the woodwork, feeling that I'm perhaps too sympathetic to the Native point of view, for one thing. And it gets extremely complicated and convoluted when you start talking about the Passage. He wrote a book a decade ago. Essentially what you've got is someone trying to protect his own turf.

Validate his own argument?
Right. And take a free publicity ride if at all possible. [Laughs] But I wrote a letter to the editor and offered to debate him at any time.

All of that would help your book too, I guess.
It won't hurt it. Some people say controversy is good. I fully expect more controversy. Although I would be just as happy to go with complete and utter adulation from start to finish. Though either or is OK with me.

How many novels have you written?

When were they published?
From 1993 to 1999.

Historical in nature?
One of them has a strong historical element. It's called Kerouac's Ghost. That has a historical dimension in that Kerouac died some time ago. I did do a tremendous amount of research on that, but I stuck with a fictional approach, nonetheless. That novel is narrated by the ghost of Jack Kerouac, come back from the dead and he tells the story. But it's rooted in the reality of his life. So that would just be one step away in terms of genre. [This novel has since gone through two more incarnations.]

You didn't actually see yourself, then, writing what is, essentially, an important work of Canadian history?
No, I didn't. It came out of nowhere and seized me. I do see it that way. And I know that I've turned up a fair bit of material that the scholars have not discovered before. You know, little things. For example, Rae's manuscript at Cambridge ends in mid-sentence at a very crucial time and nobody was able to figure out what happened and there were various theories. Well, I figured it out and I show, I think, in the book where it went and that it has been published -- virtually all of it -- in another work that appeared in 1875. Various things like that. There was correspondence in there that has never seen the light of day, that people didn't know about. [For instance] the exchange between Rae and [Francis] Leopold McClintock who Lady Jane Franklin set up as the discoverer of the fate of Franklin. That's all part of what I call the conspiracy. I trace it quite clearly: here's the exchange between these two and Rae made this point and McClintock answered this way and nobody has seen that stuff before. My book is the first one to present this case on behalf of John Rae, there's absolutely no question about that.

Lady Jane Franklin's part in this is part of what makes the story so gripping. Her actions were so self-serving.
She was an incredibly ambitious woman. An incredibly talented woman. Extremely intelligent and articulate. Far more articulate than Rae himself, for example. But incredibly ambitious. And you can see this throughout her lifetime, not just in terms of her relationship with John Rae. But she was the first woman to do this, the first woman to do that. When [she and Sir John] went to Australia, she became the first woman to climb Mt. Wellington.
She was the one who sent poor old Sir John off to lead this expedition. Here's this guy who is 59 years old -- which is not old now, I must insist, but was a fair bit older in the middle of the 19th century. They didn't have the kind of life expectancy that we have now. OK, overweight, out of shape: John, you're going to lead this expedition. She wanted him to be the discoverer of the Northwest Passage so she would be remembered as the consort of the discoverer of the Northwest Passage. That was her vision for herself. That was, finally, having become a Lady, that would perhaps be sufficient historically for the extent of her ambition.
It wasn't that she was evil, per se. She didn't go after John Rae because she was a wicked woman. He got in her way and she was extremely powerful and relentless. She's a great villain, if you look at it in terms of a narrative, that's how I perceive her. And a wonderful character. I mean, there's a great scene in [Fatal Passage]. I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered it the first time. When they're in Australia and Sir John Barrow sends a letter to Franklin who is [then] governor of Van Diemen's Land, the penal colony there. Barrow is writing complaining about some treatment accorded his son in Australia. Lady Franklin was virtually running the place and people were complaining: especially in a macho society like Australia, and Franklin was the victim of petticoat domination. Anyway, Barrow writes to Franklin, Lady Franklin intercepts the letter, reads it, rushes upstairs with her niece, Sophia, chasing after her -- here's Sir John downstairs, looking for his letter -- [she] hands it to Sophia and says: Burn this, Sophia! Sophia throws it into the fire, Franklin comes rushing upstairs and says: Where's my letter? [Lady Jane] says: I burned it, John, and I would do it again. She burned it! Burned the letter from his big boss: the guy who is running the whole show. She was a real powerhouse.

There's tremendous amount of research in Fatal Passage.
A tremendous amount in the project. Reading everything there was to read about Lady Franklin, for example. And she had the worst handwriting. Well, it wasn't the worst handwriting, but tiny, tiny handwriting. Almost unreadable. But there's been a lot of peripheral information gathered here and there and you just keep following it, you just keep going with it. Until finally you run out of steam, right? [Laughs] And then you let the book go.

How much time did you spend in research?
Well, three years intensive.

How long in the writing?
I'm counting the writing in that because, as I research it, I'm writing. It's the same, on a large scale, as doing something journalistic. You're writing along and you realize: Oh, there's a hole in my story here, I've gotta find that out. So you pick up the phone and make a call or whatever. You think you've got all the information you need, you plunge into the chapter and you realize: OK, there's some stuff I need to know. Then you pursue that. So it's a back and forth kind of thing, at least in my experience.

And, in the course of the research, I know you walked some of the miles.
I had a wonderful time! I felt driven to go up to the Arctic to the spot where John Rae had made his discovery of the final link in the Passage. To me there was a metaphorical rightness to that, quite apart from anything else, that was driving me. It was an analogy, in a way, for what I was trying to do with the book. Which is, you know, fly the flag on behalf of Rae. So, with two friends, I put together a plaque. A metal plaque. And we went North and made our way to the spot where John Rae discovered the final link -- a place called Point de la Guiche, looking out over what is now called Rae Strait. We found what we believe to be the remains of the cairn that he built -- there was no other remains around and it was at the exact spot -- so that was probably it. And that's where we left this plaque.

I know that the plaque subsequently saved someone's life.
Yeah, that was extraordinary. This was [1999] that we put the plaque up there and you begin to wonder: Well, is it still sitting up there? You know, the wind and the rain, it's pretty rough country. So late in March when it's all nice and sunny down here it's still pretty wild and rugged up there in the High Arctic. An Inuit guy was traveling from Pelly Bay to Gjoa Haven [an Inuit settlement of about 900 on King William Island], which is a distance of several hundred miles. He would have been on a snowmobile. And a blizzard came up. You've got to imagine what a blizzard is like in the Arctic: think Winnipeg and multiply it by ten. He got lost. Completely and utterly lost. And he's looking around and he comes across this plaque that's out there in the middle of nothing and is -- as far as he knows -- hundreds of miles from anywhere. So he gets out his red radio and manages to roust an RCMP station and he says: Well, I'm lost. I don't know where the hell I am but I've come across this plaque here.
On the plaque we'd put our names, my name and my two friends, one of whom was Louie Kamookak who lives in Gjoa Haven. And he recognized Louie's name and he said: Doesn't that guy live in Gjoa Haven? And the RCMP guy said: Hang on, just sit tight there at that plaque, wherever the hell it is. And he phoned Louie and said: There's this plaque. So Louie told him exactly where it was and the guy was then able to travel southwest 60 miles to make his way to safety. So in my view, it saved a guy's life, already. [Laughs] The plaque is still doing its work.

Was there anything in your research that you couldn't include in the book or didn't include the book that you would have liked to have?
I can't say as there is. I was able to put in everything I thought was salient. Of course, you come across all kinds of stuff. You get conflicting reports sometimes. I discovered that for the first time when I was researching Kerouac. You get out and out conflicts and then you get this lacunae and holes in the information. You've got one source saying a character's name is James Hamilton and you've got another saying John Hamilton: you just do the best you can. But I'm still finding things out even now. Little tiny things: little bits and pieces. [Rae's] visit to Victoria, for example, I hadn't known before that he gave a speech and then wrote a letter to the editor. So I found that out subsequently. I imagine myself accumulating little things like that over the foreseeable future and incorporating those into -- hopefully -- the second and third editions. A book is never really quite finished until the author is dead and then, who knows? Maybe somebody else could finish it.

Have you been a journalist your whole career?
Until the strike at The Herald. Although it's also true that I was a fiction writer before I was a journalist and I had a vision of surviving. [Laughs] And I realized in my early 20s: This doesn't seem to be working. I was doing all kinds of other jobs. Everything from bicycle messenger in San Francisco to fire lookout in the Canadian Rockies. It was up there actually, I was reading a lot of Joyce. James Joyce is one of my great heroes. [While reading Joyce] the novel came back to life for me but also at that time I realized: Well, I'd better try and do something because I'm not going to be able to do this all year long. So I went to Ryerson [University] in Toronto and trained as a journalist.

When would that have been?
In the early to mid-1970s. Then I worked at The Toronto Star. And then I came [to the West Coast]. I could have stayed on at The Toronto Star and, actually, people thought I was crazy. But by then I had learned about the MFA program at [the University of British Columbia]. And I always saw myself first and foremost as a writer, so ... that master's degree seemed like a better plan to me. I left The Star and [did that]. Then I went traveling through Greece and Africa and then I came back home to Montreal, I thought. I got a job at the Montreal Star, I was the assistant entertainment editor and things were grooving along and I was writing and then -- boom -- the Star went down. At that point we had a baby -- now my 21-year-old son. He was only six months old then and I was the main breadwinner so when The Herald came looking for people they brought about a dozen of us out to Calgary, which was booming.

You still live in Calgary, don't you?
Yes. I haven't heard any better offers yet.

You're not still at the Herald though?
No. There was a strike and I was part of it and I never went back.

The paper is still functioning?
Yes. The paper continues to function.

So was that strike one of those happy accidents that made other things in your life start to happen?
Well, it was interesting. It was an unhappy time. I had already started on this book. The fellowship that I won to Cambridge was a fellowship for full-time journalists, called a press fellowship. So I was at the Herald, I went over there, spent my three months a Cambridge doing my research, started on the book. When I got back things had, I think, already passed the point of no return and it wasn't for me a difficult decision in that there was no way I was ever going to cross the picket line: that's just who I am. Although none of us ever thought that it was going to last for eight months, but it did. The advantage, for me, was that I had this major book project and I'll tell you one thing: the book is a lot better because I had that much more time to devote to it. | April 2002
 Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

2. Ken McGoogan credits influence of Scotland, Ireland for what makes Canada  -- Vancouver Sun, Sept. 25, 2015

In his new book Celtic Lightning, Ken McGoogan looks at the influence of Scottish and Irish immigrants on the new Canadian nation. McGoogan has written a dozen books, including 50 Canadians Who Changed the World and How the Scots Invented Canada.

Q Why did you write Celtic Lightning?

A I wrote this book to rectify an omission. I have always been intrigued by that perpetual Canadian question: Who do we think we are? Some have suggested that surviving against the wilderness created our national character. Others have argued that the French-English divide is our defining characteristic. We have heard that we are a Metis nation, and even that the idea of a national narrative is obsolete. What is missing from this discussion? The influence of cultural genealogy. We have failed to track our formative history across the Atlantic. More specifically, we have neglected the influence of the Scots and the Irish, who arrived early enough and in sufficient numbers to shape our Canadian nation.

Q In making your case, you tell the stories of numerous individuals. What led you to this storytelling approach?
A Back in the day, when I was taking my MFA in creative writing at UBC, and writing a novel as my thesis, I believed that fiction and non-fiction were radically different genres. In the 1990s, when I began publishing books, I kept the two separate, producing one non-fiction book and three novels. Meanwhile, I earned my daily bread as a literary journalist. With Fatal Passage (2001), I applied the craft I had learned from reviewing and writing fiction to a non-fiction narrative. Bingo! The book won a number of awards and inspired a docudrama. It registered in the real world, and continues to sell especially well in Canada and the U.K. Through my next five books, I built on what I had learned from writing that book. Today, I find myself specializing in narrative non-fiction.

While writing How the Scots Invented Canada (2010), and investigating my own ancestry (Scottish, Irish, French), I realized that an ocean is an artificial barrier. Thanks to digital technology, we readily cross any body of water and go back five generations, seven generations, nine. We trace our personal stories to people who lived centuries ago. Why don’t we do the same with our collective history? Instead of accepting the limitations of geography and sociology, why not follow the example of genealogy?
I found support for this in the work of Richard Dawkins. He argues that memes, or ideas and values, are transmitted from one person to another through time and across space. More than nine million Canadians claim Scottish or Irish heritage. In British Columbia, the numbers are typical: more than 20 per cent claim Scottish ancestry, and 15 per cent Irish. Did the ancestors of more than one-quarter of our population arrive without cultural baggage? No shared attitudes and beliefs, no common vision? Impossible. They gleaned their values from their leaders and heroes. And they brought them across the Atlantic to Canada.

Q What are the values that have shaped this country?
A In Celtic Lightning, I identify five foundational values: independence, democracy, pluralism, audacity and perseverance. I show how they flourish in this country, and trace their evolution in Scotland and Ireland through separate parades of heroes and heroines: Robert the Bruce and Theobald Wolfe Tone, Daniel O’Connell and Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and James Boswell, Flora MacDonald and Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen. I argue that these figures rightly belong to Canadian history, and that the two parades come together in Canada.

Q How do these foundational values make Canada different from, say, the United States?
A Canada is more similar to the United States than to any other country, and that is partly because Irish and Scottish immigrants played a crucial role in shaping both. Other demographic factors account for many of the differences. English puritans had a much greater presence in the early U.S., and in that country today, we see far more Christian fundamentalism. The largest linguistic minority in the U.S. is Hispanic (17 per cent); in Canada, it is French Canadian (22 per cent). More differences. Also, slavery never took hold in Canada the way it did in the U.S.

But I am ranging outside the book. In Celtic Lightning, we encounter James Douglas, a.k.a. the Father of British Columbia, who embodied a distinctly Canadian ideal of pluralism: half-Scottish, half-West Indian, he married an aboriginal woman and battled American expansionism. And we meet that Irish-born visionary Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the most underrated Canadians of all time. After living in the U.S., he realized that Canada tolerated religious difference in a way that the larger country never would. He denounced the American doctrine of manifest destiny, and envisaged a separate Canadian province governed by aboriginal people. If McGee had lived, the story of Louis Riel would have played out differently. But he was assassinated by Fenians — Irish Republican Americans incapable of appreciating his greatness.

3. Opinionated, moi?

Celtic Life International, July 11, 2017  
[The following is a shortened version of the original article.]

Prolific, profound, witty, and opinionated, Canadian author Ken McGoogan made waves recently when he suggested that Canada adopt Scotland as a new territory. Celtic Life International recently spoke with the scribe about his Celtic connections. 

What are your own roots? My roots are Scottish, Irish, and French Canadian. In Scotland, DNA research led me to meeting Jim McGugan, a long-lost “cousin” who lives in Arbroath; and from there to the island of Gigha in Kintyre, where our earliest ancestor is buried. In Ireland, I have tracked my ancestor Michael Byrnes to New Ross, County Wexford, where he was a contemporary of Patrick Kennedy, a forebear of American president John F. Kennedy.

Why are those roots important to you? Tracking my roots drove me to scrambling around on Cruach MhicGougain in Kintyre, and to having many other fun adventures. The process not only gave me a whole new sense of self, but inspired two books: How the Scots Invented Canada and Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation. Unearthing my own roots inspired me to conceive of what I call “cultural genealogy.” Canadian intellectuals hunker down with geographers and sociologists. That’s a mistake. We assume geography’s limitations and cease investigating our collective past at the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, like genealogists, we should keep sleuthing. This nation’s history crosses the Atlantic. And, given that nine million Canadians trace their roots to Scotland and Ireland, it does so more often to those two countries than to anywhere else.

From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges facing Celtic Canadians today? I see Celtic culture in Canada as egalitarian, pluralistic, and progressive. So I worry about the emergence onto the world stage of a powerful right-wing partnership led by Theresa May and Donald Trump, or the Tories of Little England and the Republicans of the ‘Wild Wild West.’ I worry that, together, they might create some great libertarian beast and set it slouching towards Canada.

Are Celtic Canadians doing enough to preserve and promote their heritage?
Not really. In my own small world, that of books and authors, we have regressed. Once upon a time, Canada and Scotland shared a writers-in-residence program. One year, a Scottish writer would come to Canada for three months. The next, a Canadian writer would spend three months in Scotland. One of the founders of that program told me recently that we Canadians were the ones who dropped the ball. We should be fostering closer relations with Scotland and Ireland, creating linkages of all kinds - cultural, economic, and political - not watching excellent initiatives wither and die.

What can be done to change this? We could start by waking up to the great wide world. Obviously, we face domestic challenges. But the current leadership of the country next door, backed by tens of millions of citizens, wants to create a society in which everyone carries a gun and only the wealthy can afford education or health care. Celtic Canadians should smell the coffee and start casting about for stronger alliances elsewhere - beginning with Scotland and Ireland.

4. Authors on Snacks

January Magazine, Aug. 2017
Does creativity have a taste? And, if it does, is it salty or sweet? January Magazine’s “Authors on Snacks” is not meant to be a judgment. Rather it’s a personal peek at what some of our most beloved authors nibble on while pushing forward on their latest work. This time out we chat with Ken McGoogan, whose newest book, Dead Reckoning, will be released on September 27th, 2017.

What do you snack on while writing?
Well, I keep a jar of honey-roasted peanuts in a file drawer for easy access. They are not salted, so I figure I am on the moral high ground. Behind me, within easy reach, on the top of a three-tier metal shelf, I keep one or two bars of dark chocolate. Coffee doesn’t count, right?

Do you consider your snacking to be mostly under control or mostly out of control?
As long as I stick with the 85-per cent Lindt Excellence bar, I am good. But certain dark-chocolate-covered almonds have been known to get the better of me.

What is your latest book?
Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage, published in autumn 2017 by Patrick Crean Editions / HarperCollins Canada.

Please tell us something about the book.
The recent discoveries of those two long-lost ships, the Erebus and Terror, made international headlines. British historians have convinced everyone that the centuries-long search for the Northwest Passage is a Royal Navy story starring the heroic Sir John Franklin. In Dead Reckoning, I show that Franklin was a hapless bungler who would not have survived his first two Arctic expeditions without the help of the native peoples. Twice they saved his life! He owes his reputation to his widow, Jane Franklin, who created a myth around him after he died. By highlighting the crucial role played by the indigenous peoples, Dead Reckoning tells a completely different story of the Northwest Passage.
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.