Monday, January 27, 2014

Give this man a microphone, a podium, and an audience . . .

You have been wanting to catch Our Hero in person. You know you have. . .
Friday, Jan. 31: The Burns Supper at Hart House. Toast to The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.
Saturday, Feb. 8: Canoe & Wilderness Symposium. 2 p.m. Fatal Passage: Return to Rae Strait.
Tuesday, Feb. 18. McGill University Community for Lifelong Learning. 3:15 p.m.  Skype appearance re: Fatal Passage.
Thursday, Feb. 27. University of Toronto Lecture Series. Markham Civic Centre. 12:30 p.m. 50 Canadians Who Changed the World.
Monday, March 24. University of Toronto Lecture Series. The Oakville Club. Noon. 50 Canadians Who Changed the World.
Wednesday, April 9. University of Toronto Lecture Series. Fitzgerald Building. 50 Canadians Who Changed the World.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sporran works magic at event honoring Robert Burns

Over on Facebook, a recent image sparked complaint. Where was my sporran? The clamor induced me to solicit yet one more kilted photo from Sheena Fraser McGoogan. Here we have Our Hero setting out with Sheena for the Robert Burns extravaganza sponsored by the St. Andrew's Society of Toronto. And quite a shindig it was, complete with haggis, pipers, and a Burns' songfest led by Strings in Motion. I got to chat with Norm Kelly, the Deputy Mayor. As  reported elsewhere, I offered unsolicited advice on transit, recommended Straphanger by Taras Grescoe, and relayed statistics on the Scots and the Irish in Canada. Mr. Kelly did not smoke crack. He did not curse out the police chief in Jamaican patois. And he did not threaten to strip down to his underwear and kill somebody. Either he's a notable improvement on you know who, or the sporran really does work magic.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

And the $5,000 VIA-Rail Travel Voucher goes to . . .

My all-time favorite moment as a hander-out-of-prizes came late last year. At the Toronto launch of 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, I was honoured to give The Best Little Boy in the Whole Wide World Award to James P. McGoogan, who by good luck happened to be in the audience. That would be James in the photograph, which was taken by his Nan. My second favorite prize-announcing moment is the present one, when I get to tell you who won the $5,000 VIA-Rail Travel Voucher. You'll remember entering that contest, which was sponsored by VIA-Rail and HarperCollins Canada. It attracted 11,353 entries, as you can see: ( Three runners-up won signed copies of 50 Canadians, which will soon be heading their way: Penny Routledge of Victoria, British Columbia; James Spurr of Milford, Nova Scotia; and Taryn McDonnell
of Toronto, Ontario. The grand prize winner, who will receive a signed copy of the book AND the $5K credit towards the trip of a lifetime is . . . drum roll please . . . Ernest Martin of Oshawa, Ontario. I hasten to add that I know none of these people personally. That you are all equally deserving. And that, had it been up to me, I would have awarded the Grand Prize to YOU. Maybe next time, eh?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Art of Fact, toasting Robert Burns, and Revisiting Rae Strait

Our Hero disappeared from this space over the holidays. Fortunately, nobody noticed. And here he is, back on Day Two of the New Year, with comings and goings to proclaim. First up: I spent the morning working on an online course I teach through the University of Toronto. The title says it all: The Art of Fact: An Introduction to Writing Nonfiction. A detailed syllabus is now available online to those who have registered.  In the past, participants have surfaced from as far away as Japan and Uganda. The ten-week course starts Monday, January 20, so you can still get involved. With that course launched, Our Hero will turn to Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns. On January 31, he'll give The Immortal Memory, a keynote address, at the Burns Supper at Hart House. Rumor has it that he will sport a new kilt on that occasion. You'll want to keep an eye out for that. One week later, on February 8, I will don Arctic gear to give a presentation at the annual Wilderness and Canoe Symposium. It happens this year in Toronto at Monarch Park Collegiate, and usually attracts 500 to 600 participants. I'll talk about Fatal Passage and revisiting Rae Strait . . . which explains the singular book-signing in the above photo (taken by Sheena Fraser McGoogan).