Asked which Canadian author they’d most like at their Canada Day barbecue, the largest percentages went for the icons: 10 per cent chose Pierre Berton or Farley Mowat, while another nine per cent picked Margaret Atwood. (Clearly, the Historica-Dominion Institute who commissioned the survey didn’t poll a largely crime fiction-reading crowd. Canadian mystery author Giles Blunt tends to invite sighs from fans wherever he goes. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he win a “hottest mystery author” poll a while ago on The Rap Sheet? Surely that should earn him a barbecue invitation or two.) From a press release from the organization:
The Historica-Dominion Institute asked Canadians to write their own great Canadian novel through a playful open-ended survey, and to answer questions on the importance and role of CanLit in education. The results tell a multitude of stories about this great country, and demonstrate an overwhelming impulse for historical education through Cancon-focused literature.Though the creative silliness was fun, the survey turned up some potentially important facts:
In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in a fictionally affordable Muskoka cottage, in the Arctic, in downtown Montreal. These are some of the places where Canadians see their stories unfolding. A roughly even split chose either themselves (17%) or historic figures (18%) like Jacques Cartier or Wayne Gretzky as protagonists of their story. Interestingly, almost one quarter or 23% would write a history book, and nearly one third (31%) wanted to educate their reader, most often about Canada (rather than entertain 22%, cheer 22% or distract 5%).
“We’re excited to be tapping into the Canadian imagination while probing attitudes about how we see our own stories,” said Jeremy Diamond, Director of The Historica-Dominion Institute. “Canada Day reminds us of how important it is to celebrate those stories, and the authors who have helped to inscribe them in our collective memory.”
Notably, the survey showed immense support for Canadian stories: 95% of respondents agreed (55% strongly, 40% somewhat) that ‘it is important that students read Canadian literature in school’ while 89% agreed (48% strongly, 41% somewhat) that ‘Canadian literature should be mandatory in all high school curricula across Canada’. In fact, three quarters (76%) agree (23% strongly, 54% somewhat) that ‘Canadian literature is among the best in the world’. Nevertheless, almost half (48%) disagreed (13% strongly, 34% somewhat) that they ‘read Canadian literature on a regular basis’. Breakdown by age reveals a troubling reality: 18-34 year olds were least likely, and one third less likely than 55+ year olds, to agree that they read Canadian literature regularly.You can learn more about the Historica-Dominion Institute here.