A SECOND VIEW OF THINGS
Albert W. Trueman.
Volume 11 Number 2.
It is primarily to politicians and diplomats that we look in Canada for memoirs to recall our recent history. Historical biography has expanded the range of narrative to include notable Canadian artists or entrepreneurs but personal glimpses into the intimate and influential academic and cultural establishment of this country are rare indeed. Albert W. Trueman is a bona fide mandarin, with experience at different levels within that establishment and in different regions of Canada.
Born in the United States, Trueman came to Canada in 1913 when his father was offered a senior appointment at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Early chapters recall his youth in Truro, N.S., undergraduate days at Mount Allison University, of which his uncle, George Trueman, was president, and a sojourn at Exeter College, Oxford. Returning to Canada in 1930 to take up a teaching post at Mount Allison, Trueman began a long and varied career in academic and government service, which included a school superintendency, the presidencies of the University of Manitoba and University of New Brunswick, chairmanship of the National Film Board, and appointment as the founding Director of the Canada Council, before his return to teaching and university administration in 1967.
This entertaining and well-written memoir does not deliver on its advertised promise to provide "a penetrating analysis of Canada's cultural policy," but it does give some measure of the people who have helped to shape that policy and the personal and political networks to which they belong. Trueman is at his best recounting fiery battles with the university governors and politicians whom he served, from the crude but dynamic Lord Beaver-brook to smooth and skilled partisans like Brooke Claxton and Jack Pickersgill, and spinning amusing anecdotes, the most memorable concerning a Hungarian artist who sought to win a Canada Council grant through sheer effrontery. A Second View of Things is a slight book, guarded in its language and judgments, but worth reading for its insight into an area of Canadian life that is too seldom examined.
Robert Nicholas Bérard, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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