Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
Knox Presbyterian Church120 Lisgar Street (at Elgin)

Living History with Denise Chong and Charlotte Gray

Hosted by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld

Living History with Denise Chong and Charlotte Gray

Hosted by CBC’s Lucy van Oldenbarneveld
Knox Presbyterian Church
120 Lisgar Street (at Elgin)
Charlotte Gray - Photo by Valberg Imaging
Denise Chong

Two of Canada’s most acclaimed writers reach back through time, offering us a vivid glimpse into our history. Join the conversation with these gifted authors who offer us the remarkable opportunity to experience the past as a living present.


International bestselling author of The Concubine's Children, Denise Chong returns to the subject of her most beloved book, the lives and times of Canada's early Chinese families. In 2011, Denise set out to collect the history of the earliest Chinese settlers in and around Ottawa, who made their homes far from any major Chinatown. This generation of immigrants lived at the intersection of the Exclusion Act in Canada, which divided families between here and China, and two momentous upheavals in China: the Japanese invasion and war-time occupation; and the victory of the Communists. Her new book, Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance, explores the trajectory of a universal immigrant experience, one of looking in the rear view mirror while at the same time, travelling toward an uncertain future. 


As in her previous bestselling books, including Gold Diggers—now in production as a Discovery Television miniseries—multi-award-winning historian and biographer Charlotte Gray has created a captivating narrative rich in detail and brimming with larger-than-life personalities in her latest bestseller The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country. In 1915, a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families was shot and killed on the front porch of his home in Toronto as he was returning from work. Carrie Davies, an 18-year-old domestic servant, quickly confessed. But who was the victim here? Charles “Bert” Massey, a scion of a famous family, or the frightened, perhaps mentally unstable Carrie, a penniless British immigrant? When the brilliant lawyer Hartley Dewart, QC, took on her case, his grudge against the powerful Masseys would fuel a dramatic trial that pitted the old order against the new, wealth and privilege against virtue and honest hard work. Set against a backdrop of the Great War in Europe and the changing face of a nation, this sensational crime is brought to vivid life for the first time.


Books by participating authors available on-site. A booksigning will follow each event.


Listen to interviews with Charlotte Gray and Denise Chong from CBC Radio's All In A Day.


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