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By Gordon Skilling

Gordon Skilling writes candidly of every manner station during this own odyssey: the idealism of his pupil years on the college of Toronto and Oxford; his presence in Czechoslovakia at the eve of the Nazi, and later Soviet, invasions; his competition to the Marshall Plan, NATO, and U.S. intervention in Korea; the influence of McCarthyism on his educational existence; his involvement with the Czech and Slovak dissident activities and eventually the Velvet Revolution. The schooling of a Canadian additionally captures conversations with writers, newshounds, students, and myriad neighbors all through Russia and jap Europe (including Havel, Djilas, and Sakharov), making this heritage a incredibly human but forceful rfile of profound humanity and foreign scope.

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Extra resources for The Education of a Canadian: My Life as a Scholar and Activist

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Dad always seemed chained to his shop, which was open daily from eight o'clock in the morning until eight at night, and on Saturday until almost midnight. Hour by hour, in the flat above the store,we could hear the pounding of the hammer and the whirring of the machines. It was a good business, and my father was not hard-up. He was able to purchase his store and later bought, rented and sold half a dozen houses and stores, then built a large store on the Danforth. In early 1926, during the real estate boom, he went down to Florida alone and bought a lot in Coral Gables.

Some speeches were hostile, others favourable, to German and Italian fascism, and anti-semitism was both openly justified and condemned. The Soviet Union received more favourable treatment, and the new communist society was more often praised than denounced. In Hart House debates a motion deploring the existence of the Soviet Union was roundly defeated. S. Woodsworth and Agnes McPhail, leaders of the CCF and the United Farmers of Ontario. Once, in early 1934, the Varsity deplored the fact that most students entertained socialistic sympathies and were bombarded with these ideas by professors inside and outside the classroom.

In the early university years I regularly trekked down to the Conservatory of Music for music lessons and the occasional recital. During this hectic life I found welcome relaxation with my girlfriend, Eileen Woodhouse, a quiet, attractive young woman from Niagara Falls. She was not active in student affairs and had little interest in politics, but we enjoyed many happy hours together, going to the college balls and to dances at her sorority or my fraternity. My other close friends included Sydney Hermant, son of the owner of a large optical firm.

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