But for more than a decade following Klondike, Berton's name was represented with books drawn from his enterprising Star column and his interview programs and with such polemics as The Comfortable Pew (1965) and The Smug Minority (1968), which attacked the Anglican Church and the business-political axis, respectively. It was not until the 1970s that he attempted to pick up the serious thread of Klondike and resume work as a popular historian. His subject was the building of the CPR, as treated in The National Dream (1970) and The Last Spike the following year. The subject was well suited to Berton's strengths: patriotic verve, the marshalling of colourful detail and, above all, a driving narrative.
The Dionne Years (1977) carried him nearer social history and a smaller canvas. In turning to the WAR OF 1812 in The Invasion of Canada (1980) and Flames Across the Border (1981) Berton again dealt with events large enough to contain his heroic vision of what the past should be, and the smell of gunpowder quickened his pace without leading to narrative excesses. Other historical works have included My Country (1976) and The Wild Frontier (1978), collected sketches of characters and events. Hollywood's Canada (1975) examines the way Hollywood films misrepresent Canada. Drifting Home (1973) is an unexpected slice of autobiography in the form of an account of a northern rafting trip.
Berton returned to the writing of popular history, with The Promised Land (1984), a history of the settling of the Canadian West, and his hugely successful Vimy (1986), an examination of the WWI battle in which the Canadian Corps took VIMY RIDGE in April 1917. In Starting Out (1987), he picked up the autobiographical thread again with a memoir that ends in 1947. Winter (1994), while not overtly historical, continues one of Berton's overriding themes, that which makes us Canadian. In glorifying the season Berton is recognizing the strength of character that allows Canada as a nation to overcome its harshness. In 2004 he published his 50th book, Pioneers of the North, a collection of biographical sketches on 5 of Canada's northern explorers, enigmatic characters that he felt wrote themselves into the landscape of the North. Berton received 3 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARDS, the STEPHEN LEACOCK MEDAL FOR HUMOUR, the Canadian Booksellers Award and numerous honorary degrees and was a companion of the ORDER OF CANADA.
Links to Other Sites
The History of Canadian Broadcasting
This site is dedicated to the visionary pioneers who created Canada’s broadcasting industry. Features profiles of members of the CAB Hall of Fame and much more. From the Canadian Communications Foundation.
Pierre Berton: Canadian
The CBC’s In Depth feature about celebrated Canadian literary legend Pierre Berton. Watch the video clips for some vintage Berton observations about Canadian culture.
Pierre Berton Award
Celebrating those who bring the past to life. The award honours those who have dedicated their lives and careers to reminding us of our identity, our successes and our failures so that our future continues to grow strong. From Canada's National History Society.
A revealing news article about the private life of legendary Canadian author Pierre Berton. From the canada.com website.
Pierre Berton: A Biography
A synopsis of the first ever biography of Pierre Berton, one of Canada’s best-known and most colourful personalities. Written by award-winning author Brian McKillop. From McClelland & Stewart Limited.
Pierre Berton fonds
An online guide to the Pierre Berton fonds at McMaster University.
City of Gold
View a classic short film featuring archival images depicting Dawson City at the height of the Klondike gold rush. Narrated by writer Pierre Berton. From the National Film Board of Canada.