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How We Imagine Ourselves, by Howard White

howie-climbing

"I started incubating a theory of literature which held that mastery of expression could occur as readily in an upcoast bunkhouse as in an ivory tower in some great city in a past age."

—Howard White

At the second Geist Evening of Dinner and Diversion held in February 1994, Howard Whitefounder of Harbour Publishing, author, and Officer of the Order of Canada—gave a talk that Geist later published and which knocked the socks off a good many people. "How We Imagine Ourselves" is one of those pieces of thinking and writing that has never left us—it remains a stunning articulation of why place-based stories are so important to how Canadians understand ourselves.

We are delighted that Geist has given us permission to publish "How We Imagine Ourselves" here. 

*****

When Geist first approached me with the idea of speaking here, I made it known that of all the things I ever wanted to be when I grew up, being an after-dinner speaker was very low on the list. They took this seriously and called me up a few days later to say that they had taken care of the problem by arranging for me to give most of my talk before dinner, which was not quite what I was getting at, but there’s not much I wouldn’t do for Geist.

I grew up in a logging camp in Pender Harbour, B.C.—I w …

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