The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

Excerpt

Now and then over the past twenty years and more I’ve been asked why I chose to write the book now reissued between the covers you hold in your hands. My answer is the same as one a celebrated artist once gave me about why he paints this or that subject: “Because it spoke to me.” As with a painter so with a writer — at least sometimes. I have no personal connection to child emigration; I am not a descendant of anyone who was part of this long, painful chapter of Canada’s past. But, in the late sixties, it spoke to me. The subject formed a landscape that appealed deeply — its people, its events. I mentioned the idea of doing a book to a friend, a respected journalist and an astute man, but his reply was only mildly encouraging. It would be a worthwhile contribution, he said, but he couldn’t see much public appeal. I still remember him as astute but he showed that astute men can be wrong.

The Little Immigrants was a surprising success. It was, as this new book jacket attests, greeted by almost universally favorable reviews. This brought personal pleasure — a pleasure I see no harm in. A writer requires encouragement. As John Kenneth Galbraith, a more accomplished writer than I, wrote a few years ago: “Any author who tells you that he doesn’t pay attention to his reviews is either James Joyce or a consumate and unconvincing liar.” In any case, the reviews, and some other facts I refer to shortly, had more important benefit. They assisted the book to various bestseller lists where it remained for roughly a year. Between autumn 1980 and spring 1981, it was reprinted eight times.

I want to say early in this introduction how grateful I am for the generous words of a distinguished Canadian, The Hon. Roy MacLaren, which accompany this new introduction. Mr. MacLaren is himself the author of several books, and after a notable career served with distinction as Canada’s High Commissioner to the land in which the child immigrants were born. I’m honored by his good opinion of The Little Immigrants.

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