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August 20, 2010

The Bill of Rights at 50 and Books Worth a Look 2010

The Bill of Rights Turns 50

Fifty years ago Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s government passed the Canadian Bill of Rights which led to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 by the Pierre Trudeau government. It is generally recognized that the Bill of Rights opened the door for the Charter. Diefenbaker biographer Denis Smith in his book Rogue Tory talks about the negative reaction by some to giving clear rights to the people of Canada.

I was a teacher in Ottawa in the mid 1950s and heard Diefenbaker speak. He said something was needed beside the Magna Carta and the Habeas Corpus. He said people need to be free from to do many things . such as “capricious arrest”. The Bill used the the term “arbitrary detention”An interesting item in relation to the Cameron Ward case mentioned in my article last week and some of the events at the G20.

By the way my brother, a retired RCMP Sergeant tells me that there was a recent cell death in a BC jail and the family is suing and has Cameron Ward as their lawyer.

Books Worth a Look

I have written about Hap Wilson’s books here in the past and have followed his career as an activist, artist, entrepreneur, and author. He is best known for his books maping Canadian Rivers and he has travelled some 60,000 kilometers on these rivers. Google Hap Wilson books for a biography and bibliography. He lived on Snake Creek above Mattawa for years and wrote about the experience. (Google Heritage Perspectives – Snake Creek for the article.) I also reviewed his book The Cabin. I attended an interesting book signing at Gullivers Books where he told some stories and showed some slides. He is also an excellent photographer.

Grey Owl & Me

Wilson has a long history in Temagami as an activist and protector of the northern way of life. He drew a remarkable portrait of Grey Owl and I have thought of him as a sort of reincarnation of the iconoclastic Grey Owl.

His new book Grey Owl & Me- Stories from the Trail and Beyond has recently arrived in the North Bay and Powassan libraries and I am sure elsewhere including bookstores. With my extensive interest in Grey Owl including a library of his books and books about him and a dozen articles in Community Voices I read the book with interest.

Cover of new book by Hap Wilson. Natural Heritage Books – Dundurn Group 2010

Wilson does a biography of Grey Owl,mentions him regularly, quotes his work and carries on conversations with Grey Owl’s ghost throughout the book. The non-fiction/fiction approach works and we end up appreciating Wilson & Grey Owl. Of particular interest is Wilson’s involvement with Pierce Brosnan in the multimillion dollar Grey Owl movie in 1999. Wilson’s frank story and criticism was revealing and refreshing. His name was finally dropped from the credits in the movie.

The first half of the new book tells about Wilson’s varied career as an artist, map maker, sport canoeist, motorcyclist, dog sledder, world traveller – all with Grey Owl looking over his shoulder. The backwoods language is rough on occasion.

The second part of the book with Archie Belaney/Grey Owl referred to as Owl still present and giving “sagonash” Wilson advice looks at “Landscapes” – Tundra, the Canadian Shield, River Walks, Mountains and Borealis as only a person who has experienced them can.

The Third section is interesting essays on White Pine, Storms, the Pure Spring, Ice Walker, and Mobility – all based on his extensive experience.

The book has numerous drawings by Ingrid Zschogner. The book goes well with Wilson’s 2009 book Trails & Tribulations – more of his adventures (without Grey Owl) but equally blunt, sometimes bitter and justified.Great reading for outdoors people and conservationists.

Feminist History

As a feminist with a feminist family- a refreshing change from the macho male world of Hap Wilson is welcome. A report in the Globe & Mail profiles a group of women that has launched The Feminist Society (www.feministhistories.ca)An interesting initiative on the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. The Society will publish a series of books “on who did what, when, why and how, during the past 50 years of (feminist) activism”. A book on retired Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube is in the works. A book on the powerful work of Michelle Lansberg (Stephen Lewis’ wife) who wrote in the Toronto Star for years and histories of several influential womens groups is in the works.

The first book, out next month, is a collection of essays by 90 feminists looking at the system and the circumstances that provoked them to join the women’s movement. The world is a different and better place for women today thanks to some of these initiatives which are well worth reviewing.

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