On a trip from the Maritimes, after attending the International Conference on Baptist Studies IV in the summer, I happened to pick up a Saturday Globe and Mail, and not surprisingly found myself gravitating to the editorial page and book reviews. A fascinating book review that appeared on one of the editorial pages was on the then-new book on Pierre Trudeau: Young Trudeau, Son of Quebec, Father of Canada by Max and Monique Nemni. Apparently it is a quite a revealing work, depicting a far different young Trudeau than the one many of us remember, namely the committed federalist and foe of narrow Quebec nationalism. Here is an ardent right-winger, deeply antagonistic to the Canadian war effort and a believer in “every French-Canadian nationalist myth about the evils of les anglais.” Jeffrey Simpson, who wrote the review, notes that Trudeau’s views “were utterly consistent with those of the Catholic Church in Quebec until the war’s later years.” [“Pierre Trudeau was no Talbot Papineau”, The Globe and Mail (July 15, 2006), A13]. Earlier that week, at the conference I had been at, I had listened to a paper that had mentioned the fiery anti-Catholicism of the Toronto Baptist pastor T.T. Shields. But, after reading the review of this book, it struck me that Shields’ anti-Catholicism was quite understandable in the time period given the large numbers who would have shared the views of the young Trudeau.
It was an excellent reminder that one of the ways to avoid anachronism in the study of an area of history is to read widely in the time period under study.