About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Letter from the Governor General

The personal Coat of Arms of
David Johnston as Governor General
Over the past week I have posted, as a review of The Idea of Canada – Letters to a Nation by David Johnston, a trio of posts which originally were a letter to David who is Canada’s Governor General. I asked him some questions in my letter and advised I would post a reply if he consented. The Governor General graciously replied in a handwritten letter which was accompanied by a transcription “for ease of reading” done by his secretary. David’s writing is legible but not easy reading. The letter is:

February 24, 2017 

Dear Bill, 

Thank you for your thoughtful – and thought – provoking letter of Feb. 7th – and for taking the time to write. Let me respond to your questions in turn. 

1.      The letters in The Idea of Canada are a mixture: some spontaneous (though edited) some structure; some to actual persons; some posthumously; some (a majority) largely taken from earlier speeches or submissions, etc. 

2.      Your Ethelton Library had the same impact on you as the Carnegie Public Library did on me in my hometown, SS Marie. As a 12 yr. old, I learned to operate the movie projector there and had a part-time job showing films. 

3.      We will be at Vimy in early April in 5 weeks’ time for the 100th anniversary of that remarkable victory. I often refer to the “Canadian” lessons from Vimy as inspiring features of our history including the roles of Byng and Currie who were GG in Canada and Principal – McGill University, positions which I have had the great privilege to hold. When I was there 5 years ago, I was accompanied by 5000 Canadian high school students who had raised the money themselves to support the voyage and each did a historical essay on one of the Canadian fallen soldiers at Vimy. 

4.      I love your emphasis on how lawyers deal with people and the improvements we need there especially to reinforce trust and adherence to the social contract the legal profession has with people. 

5.      Ah! Fighing in hockey. We need a good dinner together to discuss this further. We recently convened a conference on violence in sport and concussions and have been working with Ministers of Health and Sport to create a national protocol. You are correct and astute in urging a more complete use of the instruments of the criminal justice system. 

6.      Bravo on your Melfort Rotary Club initiative. Rotary (Service above Self) is such a force for good. I am honoured to be a Paul Harris Fellow and was a Rotary Scholar to Cambridge, England. My eldest daughter (a lawyer with the Fed Dept. of Justice) was a Rotary scholar to Hong Kong and my eldest nephew a Rotary Scholar to Geneva. 

Post any parts of this letter which seem to make sense to you. We still need a good dinner together to continue the conversation. 

Warmest regards to the great people of Melfort. 



As an aside the following paragraph from the Governor General’s website explains the motto David chose to represent himself:

The Latin phrase CONTEMPLARE MELIORA, meaning “To envisage a better world” (literally “To envisage better things”), alludes to a line from George Bernard Shaw’s play Back to Methuselah (Part I, Act I): “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not? ’”.


  1. I'm most impressed, Bill. What a courteous, interesting letter! And it looks as though he did think through your comments, and wrote a reply that really addressed them (i.e. not a 'form' letter). I hope you two do get a chance to meet.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is an honour to get a letter from the GG and even better when it is handwritten. We shall see if our paths may cross in the future.

  2. What a splendid reply to your equally splendid letter! The Governor General sounds like a fine man - someone with a real dedication to public service.

    1. Moira: Thanks for the comment. Canada is fortunate to have David as our Governor General.

  3. Your letter was beautifully written, well considered, and thought-provoking.

    I found the advice of reading only several letters at a time to ensure time for reflection was a particularly salient point. The modern world's steady deluge of information can overwhelm the reader and prevent the absorption of the actual content, which only comes with proper reflection.

    I enjoyed comparing his response to your letter to see what he emphasized in his response.

    Take him up on his offer for dinner!

    Love you.


    PS - sharing his Governor General's motto was a beautiful touch. A life well-lived can be the only result of following his motto “To envisage a better world”. And its genesis is the perfect ending for two men with such a love of letters.



    1. (My son Jonathan sent the above comment as an email and said I could post it as a comment.)

      Jonathan: Thanks for the kind words. I appreciated your comment and you brought a catch to my throat. I will see if the Governor General is free for dinner the next time in Ottawa.