First Drafts


From two of Canada’s foremost historians comes a highly original compilation of eyewitness accounts from our nation’s history. Chosen for their immediacy and engaging qualities, these first-hand accounts are broad in scope, including General James Wolfe’s victory at Quebec in 1759; the escape of a fugitive slave; the hanging of Metis leader Louis Riel; suffragette Nellie McClung’s crusade for women in 1914; the daring World War I exploits of ace pilot Billy Bishop; the Canadian surrender to the Japanese in Hong Kong in 1941; the modern phenomenon of Wayne Gretzky; and Canada’s great success at the 2002 Olympic Games.

Drawn from letters, newspapers, reportage, and diaries, these vivid accounts of history in the making cover the range of time from first contact to the present day, providing an exciting and immediate window into Canada’s diverse history.


Compulsively readable.

Globe and Mail

Anyone with any feeling for Canada will shout 'Hallelujah!' in gratitude for First Drafts, a wonderful potpourri of a book about Canada's history.

John Fraser, National Post

Certainly among the best of anthologies, First Drafts is a pleasure, a store of literary treasures and a solid short course in Canadian history.

Edmonton Journal

...a book at once refreshing and compelling...[t]his volume really does belong on every Canadian bookshelf.

Montreal Gazette

...this is a highly original and compelling compilation of eyewitness accounts of our country's diverse history ... an informative and exciting read for every Canadian, not just for history buffs. Each story is unique and varied like the land and people it describes.

Kitchener-Waterloo Record

With vivd descriptions of the 1914-1918 conflict and the changes of the ensuing years, the development of Canada is brought alive in journals, letters and articles in this collection. An engrossing book, not only for the events, but also for the intimate, lively and telling eye-witness stories.

The Peace Arch News

About the Authors

Norman Hillmer

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Norman Hillmer

Norman Hillmer is a professor of history and international affairs at Carleton University and was formerly senior historian at the Department of National Defence. Granatstein and Hillmer have collaborated on five books, including the national bestseller Prime Ministers: Ranking Canadian Leaders.