Jane Urquhart (Credit Mark Raynes) When originally commissioned by publisher HarperCollins Canada to write her “birthday gift” to Canada, Jane Urquhart very quickly had a few objects in mind. The book – inspired by the British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects exhibit – was envisioned as a series of vignettes on particularly Canadian artifacts that would reflect the then-upcoming sesquicentennial. “I thought it was a lovely idea,” Urquhart said Thursday during an interview from Sechelt, B.C. But Urquhart’s book, A Number of Things, proved more of a challenge than the acclaimed novelist had anticipated. While the overall experience – the travel and research and writing – was “enlarging” for the author, there was much about these 50 objects that was “unsettling.” A Number of Things became both a celebration – and an unflinching look – at our country, making these evocatively written essays a kind of unconventional history of Canada. “They wanted my personal perspective,” Urquhart said. “With that in mind, I started by just paying attention to the things that, over the years, had intrigued me” The first object in mind was a leather legging from the now-extinct Beothuk First Nation. One of the more […]