Because I forgot to post this yesterday: Rest in Peace, Pierre Berton.
For the non-Canuck readership of this blog (ha ha...oh...) Berton was a popular history writer who was able to make the opacity of Canadian history presentable to the Canadian public. His work will certainly be missed. I think the first Berton that I read was either Vimy (about Canada and WWI) or The Dionne Years (about the Dionne quintuplets, and one of his best). I would have been about eleven or twelve at the time, and I think it is a testament to the man's skill that I would find those books engrossing at that age, and be able to turn to Marching As to War when writing about the Canadian war experience in a history class at university.
Apparently he was a cat lover with approximately 17 cats. (warning: it's a PDF, but it is worth it.)
I think I like what J.L. Granatstein (from the Globe and Mail article linked above)said best of all:
Mr. Berton approached history very differently from most academic historians, Prof. Granatstein said. "He chose good subjects and wrote them up in a way that people wanted to buy them. The academics, by definition, picked obscure subjects and wrote them terribly, and nobody wanted to read them. It was inevitable that there was a clash between the two."
As the decades passed, the academics looked much more favourably on Mr. Berton's work as a popular historian. "Without Pierre Berton there would scarcely be any Canadian history left," Prof. Granatstein said. "For the last 40 years he has popularized Canadian history in a way that nobody else was doing."