Former Times reporter a best-seller with book about Scots in Canada

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Former Shetland Times reporter Paul Cowan has hit literary gold across the Atlantic with his book How the Scots Created Canada.

Mr Cowan, who worked at the Times in the mid-1980s, said he was delighted to learn that the book has easily passed the sales threshold for best-sellerdom in Canada.

He said: “I wasn’t sure at first about the project. But then I realised that most of the books on the subject featured what I’d call the ‘usual suspects’, such the fur traders and Canada’s first Prime Minister, Glasgow-born John A MacDonald, and ignored a lot of equally in­teresting characters.

“There were a lot of rogues and rascals went to Canada too and they also played a part in shaping the country. Quite frankly, there’s a lot of romanticised tosh written about the Scots in Canada – and as always the truth is way more interesting.

“I think being a Scot living in Canada, I was also able to bring some insights that a writer who had only lived in Canada or the UK would lack. The book has even been recorded for the benefit of the blind.”

Around 4.5 million Canadians claim Scottish descent and Mr Cow­an moved there in 1997 to work as a reporter on a daily newspaper in Alberta.

He reported for Canada’s second largest newspaper chain from Af­ghanistan and Kosovo before quitting journalism to write books full-time.

As well as standing him in good stead when it came to penning his Canadian best-seller, Mr Cowan says his time in Shetland also paid dividends when it came to his second book – Scottish Military Disasters.

“Shetland is a fantastic place for a journalist to work and the Times has always attracted a very high calibre of writer.

“I learned a lot from working alongside them and a trip to Norway from Lerwick actually provided the source material for one of the chapters in the disasters book – the one in which the Scottish mer­cenaries are massacred by the Norwegian farmers.”

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