(September 30, 2011) — A textbook co-authored by St. Mary’s University Professor Dr. Norman Knowles tells the “unfolding history of Canada” by returning to a narrative style that had fallen out of fashion in most historical writing.

“Most textbooks have adopted a topical and thematic approach that pays little attention to chronology and even causation,” Dr. Knowles said.

“We aimed for a narrative history, paying attention to chronology and causation while telling the unfolding history of the country.

“We also tried to tell the stories of certain representative individuals in Canadian history, so the textbooks have an emphasis on biography, as well. This is the first textbook written by a group of Canadian historians of my generation,” he said.

Narrating a Nation: Canadian History Pre- and Post-Confederation, a two volume set recently published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, is becoming widely used by history programs in Canadian universities.

The three-year writing project was an opportunity to “stand back and take a big picture view” not only of Canadian history but also of his own teaching methods. As a result of writing this book, Dr. Knowles has completely revised his lectures for HIST 201 and HIST 203, foundational courses in St. Mary’s three-year history degree program.

A specialist in nineteenth-century Canadian social, cultural and religious history, Dr. Knowles is an associate priest at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and priest-in-charge at the St. Edmund King and Martyr parish in Calgary. In addition to a busy teaching and writing schedule, he serves as assistant registrar and archivist for the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.

Dr. Knowles has written or edited several books and more than a dozen articles or book chapters on Canadian history. Recent works include Seeds Scattered and Sown: Studies in the History of Canadian Anglicanism and Inventing the Loyalists: The Ontario Loyalist Tradition and the Creation of Usable Pasts.

Narrating a Nation: Canadian History Pre- and Post-Confederation (two volumes)
Raymond B. Blake, Jeffrey Keshen, Norman Knowles, Barbara Messamore
©2011 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited