Canada's 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era
Published: March 2008© 2009
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 480 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
480 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.54 in
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.
'The book is a prestigious example of scholarship, wonderfully documented...I could not put it down...most highly recommended for students, faculty, and the general interest reader.' Patrice LeClerc, Journal of Socialist Studies, vol 6:01:10
'Palmer provides a fascinating analysis of a key but little examined decade... It is both provocative and insightful...And it most certainly will prompt much new research on a period that fundamentally re-shaped Canadian identity and lives.' Catherine Gidney, History of Intellectual Culture, vol8:01:08-09
If Palmer's exhaustive research and clever analysis provide the body of Canada's 1960 in this book, his style provides the soul. Rare is the academic book in which the cadences and staging of the narrative are as much a part of the argument as is the case with this study. P.E Bryden, American Historical Review, October 2010
'It has taken a generation but at last we have the book we have been waiting for: Bryan Palmer's exhilarating sweep of history, story, and idea provides a terrific survey of a decade that haunts us still. Bits and pieces have been written about this era in Canada, but Palmer's account weaves together a stupendous range of themes and debates about the evolution of Canadian identity and about how the events of the 1960s irrevocably altered that discourse. Always analytical and critical, Palmer nevertheless shows remarkable intellectual and emotional generosity to and solidarity with an era he concludes was "infinitely creative."' Myrna Kostash, author of Long Way From Home: The Story of the Sixties Generation in Canada
'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
- Commended - Sir John A. Macdonald Prize awarded by Canadian Historical Association
- Short-listed - The Canada Prize in the Social Sciences