“Charlotte Gray helps us to better understand who we are as an evolving nation—a country for all that will thrive well beyond the next 150 years.”

—NAHEED NENSHI, Mayor of Calgary


Who Are We as Canadians?

Syrian refugees. Thomson Reuters.


Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi champions Canadian pluralism.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with cabinet. Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS.


Contemporary Indigenous artists combine modern techniques and materials with traditional images. After a printmaking co-operative was established in Cape Dorset, Kenojuak Ashevak developed a distinctive graphic style.

Elijah Harper. Wayne Glowacki / THE CANADIAN PRESS.


Since it was enacted in 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been embraced at home and widely admired abroad.

Man waves flag on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, 1980. Boris Spremo / Getty Images / 502804453.


While still in high school, Margaret Atwood was determined to be a writer—although she never assumed she could make a living with her pen.

The 1967 World Exhibition—Show of the Century, 1963. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1994-272-1. Captain Canuck. Image courtesy of Chapterhouse Comics and Captain Canuck Inc.


When Bertha Wilson graduated from Dalhousie University Law School in 1956, there were few opportunities for women lawyers.

Mackenzie King with soldiers. Laurie A. Audrain / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-152440.


Tommy Douglas’s oratorical skills, legendary while he was a young Baptist minister in Saskatchewan, served him well in politics.

Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky, Emily Carr, 1931. Vancouver Art Gallery.


In the 1930s, prairie farmers watched their crops destroyed by grasshoppers, droughts and dust storms.

Canada the New Homeland, 1925. Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN No. 2958967


After serving as a war artist and depicting the brutality of trench warfare, Frederick Varley returned to Toronto and was a founding member of the Group of Seven.

North West Mounted Police Town Station on 4th Avenue in Dawson City, Yukon, 1898. Stuart Taylor Wood / Library and Archives Canada / C-022074.


The Dominion’s splendid Parliament Buildings, under construction in 1864, overlooked a rough lumber town.

Fathers of Confederation. George P. Roberts / Library and Archives Canada / C-000733.


Private sponsors, non-governmental organizations, churches and governments joined together to welcome Syrian refugees fleeing the violent turmoil back home. By March 1, 2016, 25,000 refugees had arrived.

Naheed Nenshi. Todd Korol / Getty / 509013864.


In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told The New York Times, “There is no mainstream in Canada.”

Luminous Char, Kenojuak Ashevak, 2008. Gallery Phillip.


In 1990, Elijah Harper’s act of defiance in the Manitoba legislature symbolized First Nations’ frustrations and their growing clout in Canadian politics.

Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Arabic. Image courtesy of the Department of Canadian Heritage. © All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, 2016.


The place of Quebec within Canada dominated political debate after 1967; secessionists hoped the 1980 Quebec Referendum was the first step towards independence.

Margaret Atwood. Ron Bull / Getty / 515083601.


Expo 67 and Captain Canuck captured the nationalist exuberance as Canada entered its second century.

Dalhousie University graduation photo. Image courtesy of Chris Wernham.


With the declaration of war in 1939, Tommy Douglas and the CCF were invisible in Ottawa, as most Canadians lined up behind Prime Minister Mackenzie King and the war effort.

Tommy Douglas, portrait as a young man. Arthur Roy / Library and Archives Canada / PA-046989.


Emily Carr presented Canadians with a new and original way to look at and think about the country by acknowledging that the landscape was peopled and alive before Europeans arrived. Her raw intensity speaks to contemporary artists.

Prairie farmer in field during drought. Provincial Archives of Alberta, A3742.


As late as the 1920s, the Canadian government lured settlers to the prairies with promises of free land and images of plentiful crops and healthy children.

For What?, Frederick Varley, 1917. Canadian War Museum, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, CWM 19710261-0770.


During the Yukon Gold Rush of the 1890s, the North West Mounted Police brought peace, order and good government to Dawson City.

The Dominion’s splendid Parliament Buildings, under construction in 1864. H. Spencer / Library and Archives Canada / C-000606.


John A. Macdonald, seated in the middle, smoothly pieced together the new nation, but George-Étienne Cartier, on his right, gave the country its flexible structure.