It’s fitting that Pierre Berton would leave us the day after a celebration of great Canadians. Nobody mined our country’s history as assiduously as he did, finding nuggets of national glory and, sometimes, shame.

Much of what I know about story, and teasing a narrative thread out of the confused tangle of reality, I learned from reading and listening to Berton. It wasn’t all history; I couldn’t tell you how many times I read and reread The Secret World of Og when I was eight and nine. A few years later, My Country became a television staple in our house; we watched every minute of The National Dream the way other families watched Stanley Cup finals.

Pierre Berton died today in Toronto at the age of 84.