The Desire of Every Living Thing

A Memoir

Publisher: Vintage Canada
At the age of eighty, Don Gillmor's grandmother let slip the defining secret of her life: her twin sister Jean was not her twin, but her aunt, and her family had emigrated from Scotland to Winnipeg to escape the stigma of her illegitimacy. That revelation set Gillmor off on what seemed at first like the most personal of quests: to track down his ancestors. The Desire of Every Living Thing is also the story of the New World, the story of Winnipeg, the story of this country. Both an evocative family memoir and a brilliant feat of historical imagination, the book's most moving theme is how the discarded past haunts and shapes our lives without us even noticing.



From the back of the Fort Garry United Church that Sunday, my grandmother looked out on rows of blond oak pews bolted to the floor and the unthreatening backs of people's heads. A pale winter light was diffused by beige translucent windows. There were hats still; it was 1962. Small dark hats that perched,...
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"With compassion, imagination, wit and, most especially, very fine writing, Don Gillmor tracks his family's hard yet also often amusing past -- all the while weaving in some of his own -- from long-ago, dour, tough Scotland to settlement in early, wide-open, tough Winnipeg. Such a Canadian story!" -Ernest Hillen, author of The Way of a Boy

"[Gillmor's] book is about family, and charts a tender and moving journey in the 'search for home.'" -The National Post