Canada's 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era by Bryan PalmerCanada's 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era by Bryan Palmer

Canada's 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era

byBryan Palmer

Paperback | March 29, 2008

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Rebellious youth, the Cold War, New Left radicalism, Pierre Trudeau, Red Power, Quebec's call for Revolution, Marshall McLuhan: these are just some of the major forces and figures that come to mind at the slightest mention of the 1960s in Canada. Focusing on the major movements and personalities of the time, as well as the lasting influence of the period, Canada's 1960s examines the legacy of this rebellious decade's impact on contemporary notions of Canadian identity. Bryan D. Palmer demonstrates how after massive postwar immigration, new political movements, and at times violent protest, Canada could no longer be viewed in the old ways. National identity, long rooted in notions of Canada as a white settler Dominion of the North, marked profoundly by its origins as part of the British Empire, had become unsettled.

Concerned with how Canadians entered the Sixties relatively secure in their national identities, Palmer explores the forces that contributed to the post-1970 uncertainty about what it is to be Canadian. Tracing the significance of dissent and upheaval among youth, trade unionists, university students, Native peoples, and Quebecois, Palmer shows how the Sixties ended the entrenched, nineteenth-century notions of Canada. The irony of this rebellious era, however, was that while it promised so much in the way of change, it failed to provide a new understanding of Canadian national identity.

A compelling and highly accessible work of interpretive history, Canada's 1960s is the book of the decade about an era many regard as the most turbulent and significant since the years of the Great Depression and World War II.

Bryan D. Palmer is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Canadian Studies at Trent University.
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Title:Canada's 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious EraFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.54 inPublished:March 29, 2008Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing DivisionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:080209659X

ISBN - 13:9780802096593

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shedding Canada's British Past When we think of Canadian identity today and the major historical events and processes that helped to construct that identity, the 1960s usually registers only tangentially and not front and center where it really should be. That is what Bryan D. Palmer has attempted to do in this volume, to show that our own ambivalence in what defines us as Canadians is a direct result of the identity crises (and there were many) of the 1960s. First off, I do want to mention that overall I really enjoyed the book but at over 400 pages, the book includes about 200 pages of information that I would categorize as background information (diefen-dollars, Marshall McLuhan, Ali vs Chuvalo). That is to say, half of the book does not directly contribute to Palmer's arguments but help to contextualize his later, stronger claims. Having said that, there are some very strong chapters in the book, mostly found at the end. First is the breakdown of student radicalism, evidenced by the many campus protests across the country such as at SFU, and in Quebec. Second, is Palmer's lengthy analysis into the so-called Quiet Revolution and its many nuances, a fusion of anti-racism, nationalism, Marxism, and anti-colonialism, embodied in Vallieres and the FLQ movement. Finally, Palmer discusses the Red Revolution, the attempt by aboriginal peoples to reclaim their heritage and end the paternalism and unequal relationship that existed between aboriginal and white society. The book is very well researched and the historical questions Palmer confronts us with are relevant and timely. He ends the book by asking this question: "Is national identity really what we need?" In my opinion, the 1960s represents all that we celebrate today as the cornerstones of Canadian society. Multiculturalism, universal healthcare, and the welfare state. It was the moment that Canada grew up and finally shed its "British past" full of the injustices and inequalities of empire to become a fairer and more just society. It is precisely because of those core values we all believe in, abstract and intangible, which makes it so hard to define. Thus, Canada as an imagined community is distinct from other nation-states which define themselves primarily by their distinct culture, or a long territorial history, or a revolution, or a great imperial domain -- and is instead a construction of social values. This is an important historical text for anyone studying contemporary Canadian history. Palmer's analysis is not only insightful but very well-researched.
Date published: 2009-07-22

Editorial Reviews

Rebellious youth, the Cold War, New Left radicalism, Pierre Trudeau, Red Power, Quebec's call for Revolution, Marshall McLuhan: these are just some of the major forces and figures that come to mind at the slightest mention of the 1960s in Canada. Focusing on the major movements and personalities of the time, as well as the lasting influence of the period, Canada's 1960s examines the legacy of this rebellious decade's impact on contemporary notions of Canadian identity. Bryan D. Palmer demonstrates how after massive postwar immigration, new political movements, and at times violent protest, Canada could no longer be viewed in the old ways. National identity, long rooted in notions of Canada as a white settler Dominion of the North, marked profoundly by its origins as part of the British Empire, had become unsettled.Concerned with how Canadians entered the Sixties relatively secure in their national identities, Palmer explores the forces that contributed to the post-1970 uncertainty about what it is to be Canadian. Tracing the significance of dissent and upheaval among youth, trade unionists, university students, Native peoples, and Quebecois, Palmer shows how the Sixties ended the entrenched, nineteenth-century notions of Canada. The irony of this rebellious era, however, was that while it promised so much in the way of change, it failed to provide a new understanding of Canadian national identity.A compelling and highly accessible work of interpretive history, Canada's 1960s is the book of the decade about an era many regard as the most turbulent and significant since the years of the Great Depression and World War II.'Canada's 1960s is a dazzling tour de force. An intellectual, cultural, political and social history of the decade, Palmer's account includes much more than the usual examination of the counter culture of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It covers the emergence of the New Left, the upsurge of radical nationalist mobilizations in Quebec, the beginning of a new wave of feminism, and a discussion of how Native peoples became more visible with the birth of a militant Aboriginal movement of resistance. Finally, in focusing on how Canadians during the 1960s came to understand themselves differently, Palmer's book explores Canadian national identity and its transformation. This important examination of the Sixties thus turns into a stunning exploration of the peculiarities of Canadians.' - Cy Gonick, publisher, Canadian Dimension