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Distinguished Canadians: Hugh MacLennan

The Story

Hugh MacLennan is sometimes considered the father of Canadian literature, because he believed Canadian stories were worth writing about. At the time of this 1972 interview, his novel The Watch That Ends the Night is a best seller, and MacLennan talks about the meaning of the book's international success. But he also discusses Scottish Puritanism and American Calvinism, his move to Halifax from Cape Breton at age seven, and the surprisingly minimal contact he had with the French in Montreal before and during the time he wrote Two Solitudes. MacLennan also comments on the place of literature in a political society, slavery, evolution, technological progress, and the change in societal values, especially among the student population.

Medium: Television
Program: Distinguished Canadians
Broadcast Date: June 12, 1972
Guest(s): Hugh MacLennan
Interviewer: John David Hamilton
Duration: 26:33

Did You know?

• John Hugh MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, N.S in 1907. He died in 1990 in Montreal.


• His first book, Barometer Rising, was about the Halifax Explosion he had survived at the age of 10. It marked one of the first times this Canadian story was revealed internationally.


• In 1945 he released Two Solitudes, one of the most popular books in Canadian literature. The book won the Governor General's Literary Award, one of three that MacLennan earned during his lifetime.


• He was a part-time English Professor at McGill University from 1951 to 1981, continuing to write essays and the occasional novel.



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