George Parkin was born the thirteenth child of an immigrant New Brunswick farmer and died a knight of the realm and perhaps the most famous Canadian in the world.

Charismatic, charming, eloquent and dedicated, Parkin devoted his immense energy to two causes. As an orator and journalist, he worked to strengthen the bonds between the English-speaking peoples; as Principal of Upper Canada College and Founding Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships he promoted a vision of education primarily as the formation of character, not the training of the intellect.

This beautifully written and witty biography is a story of ideas lived through Parkin and those in his wide circle of influence with leaders of many countries. He was one of the first Canadians to see the development of globalization, and produced that famous map to demonstrate his vision, the British Empire all in red, Canada huge and dominating in the centre. His passionate opposition to free trade and eventual annexation by the United States mark him as an eloquent and prophetic visionary of Canada’s fate under NAFTA.

Author William Christian’s own life in Parkin’s footsteps and rich sensitivity to Parkin’s story is on full display in this masterful biography. Political science professor at University of Guelph, well-known journalist and political commentator, Christian is an acknowledged authority on the intersection of philosophy, political life, communication theory and public purpose.


"William Christian makes all this come alive, evoking time, place, and character so well, not forgetting the private life too in probing the anatomy of a Victorian marriage between the teacher and his star student, and the remarkable family they produced."

Terry Cook, Department of History, University of Manitoba

"Seldom in my life have I been so excited about a book. I did not want to lay the book down. William Christian has a winner not only in the person of Parkin but in the style of writing."

Harold Nutter, Archbishop of Fredericton

"As founding secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships, Sir George Parkin had a powerful and lasting impact on American education, politics, and culture. William Christian admirably shows us why, and how."

Prof. Martyn Thompson, Tulane University, New Orleans, and Fellow of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California

"William Christian tells the story of a Canadian who deserves far more attention if one is to understand the evolution of Canadian foreign policy."

Hon. Michael Chong, P.C., M.P.

About the Author

William Christian

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

William Christian

William Christian, a graduate of Oxford, is a retired University of Guelph political science professor and a well-known journalist and political commentator. His biography of George Grant (Parkin’s grandfather) was a national best-seller.