Telling Stories in the Age of Historical Amnesia


On the evening of Thursday, November 8, acclaimed biographer and historian Charlotte Gray, OC, FRSC, will deliver the 2018 Harold Innis Lecture. Entitled “Telling Stories in the Age of Historical Amnesia,” Gray’s lecture will explore the life and intellectual impact of Harold A. Innis in the context of acknowledging and bringing new insights into Canada’s storied past. A discussion with Geoffrey Taylor, director, Toronto International Festival of Authors and a reception will follow.

We cannot “clean up” history by trying to expunge the parts we don’t like, or by toppling statues of once-admired leaders. But we can bring new insights into our knowledge of the past. In his day, Professor Harold Innis did this brilliantly by shifting the debate about what kind of country he and his fellow Canadians lived in. Charlotte Gray will explore the life of Innis, and, at a time when his example is more important than ever, she will discuss his impact on Canadian intellectual life.

Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known biographers and writers of popular histories. Author of ten acclaimed books of literary non-fiction, her most recent best-seller is The Promise of Canada: People And Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country.

Her other award-winning books include The Massey Murder; Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention; and Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike. Sisters in the Wilderness, which Charlotte published in 1999, was named as one of the 25 most influential Canadian books of the past 25 years by the Literary Review of Canada.

Born in Sheffield, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Charlotte worked as a political commentator, book reviewer and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history. An adjunct research professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, she holds five honorary degrees and is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She lives in Ottawa.