INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul

Introduction

During the nearly four years it took to compile this book, we were asked several questions repeatedly: “What will make this Chicken Soup book different from all the other Chicken Soup titles? How will you make this book a true reflection of our diverse and historic Canadian heritage?” “What exactly is Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul anyway?”

When we first began collecting stories, the answers to these questions were not clear. After all, the Canadian identity is multidimensional as well as multicultural. As Canadians, we find our roots in so many different places around the world. How could we create a collection of stories that represented them all? In addition, Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are traditionally nonpolitical and noncontroversial. Yet Canada, by its very existence, is a political entity, and its historic origins are steeped in controversy. Many of those controversies are part of the Canadian fabric of life to this day; they continuously challenge us to stretch and grow and to be the best people and country we can be.

How could we assemble a collection of stories that would truly represent everything Canada is—and everyone who lives here? At some point it became apparent we simply could not. But we knew we could put together a book of wonderful, inspirational, heart-opening stories, which people would love to read and which would make us feel proud to be Canadians.

We decided we needed stories from people living in as many different places in Canada as possible. We searched from Cape Breton Island to Vancouver Island, and in every province and territory in between. We looked for stories in big cities, small towns, villages and rural communities all across this beautiful country. We sought stories from teachers and students, professional writers and professional homemakers, athletes and musicians, journalists and entertainers, First Nations Communities, historians and war veterans, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Coast Guard—just about anybody we could think of. We did our best to tell our storytellers just what we were after. And then the stories started to arrive.

When we had a group of stories we liked, we ran them past a panel of Canadian readers and asked the panel for comments. They told us what they liked and what they didn’t. Eventually, a pattern began to emerge—and our spines started to tingle. We realized that what we were doing had never been done before in this country, and we were honoured to the tips of our toes to be doing it! Our love and commitment to this unique and special project grew into a passion.

What we present to you now is the result of reading over 6,000 stories during the past four years. In addition to the rich treasure of ordinary Canadians telling us their personal and heretofore unknown stories, we tried our best to include the stories of many well-known and beloved Canadians as well. Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini were delighted to share with us the story of their memorable gold medal skate at the 1984 World Championships in Ottawa. “For Better or For Worse” cartoonist Lynn Johnston submitted a wonderful story about an encounter with Wayne Gretzky. Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster shared a very touching story with us, proving she is as delightful offstage as she is on. Kurt Browning sent us a story sharing his unique perspective on skating in the Olympics. Pamela Wallin gave her insight into how patriotic Canadians really are. Toronto Star writer Leslie Scrivener tells us again the story we all carry in our hearts—the legacy of Terry Fox. We are honoured to present you with these and all the other wonderful stories we found. We hope you are as touched and proud reading these stories as we have been compiling and editing them.

There are many stories we have not told in this book. We may not have included a story on a particular theme, person, group of people or Canadian region because we either couldn’t find a story appropriate for a Chicken Soup for the Soul collection, or we couldn’t find the writer of a story we did have.

If you have or know of a story that you feel should have been in the book but wasn’t, we invite you to submit it to us for consideration for a second edition.

That being said, we feel we have assembled a wonderful collection of stories that all Canadians can truly be proud of. And while there are many diverse stories from ordinary people exploring universal themes of love, compassion, forgiveness, family, acceptance and courage, there is one golden thread that weaves its way through this book—sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. That thread is the passionate love all Canadians have for this land that offers them so much, this land they call home. In the end, these stories are not about language, culture, politics, or where one’s parents or grandparents came from. These stories are about the love, pride and gratitude we all share in being Canadian. We hope these tales will in turn inspire you, touch your heart and make you smile.

From our hearts to yours, we are thrilled and proud to offer you Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul.

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