They gained their maturity in an age of monumental and unprecedented change – from horse-and-buggy, Model TFord, and crank telephone, to moonwalks, space shuttles, and the Internet. They are better educated, more affluent, more vigorous, and longer-lived than any generation before them, yet obstinately cling to a forthright simplicity no generation is likely to regain. They are proudly “old fashioned” in their outlook, hardworking, and frugal in their ways. They are the last enthusiastic patriots, the last to accept authority with respect. They are the last generation to have reached adulthood without television, credit cards, computers, or the Pill. Their younger critics may call them “old fogies”; Robert Collins calls them Generation M, for mature.
In You Had to Be There, Robert Collins gives us the entire history of this extraordinary and hugely influential generation. Through this fascinating story he weaves the voices of Canadians from across the country, who speak with humour, regret, and passion about the hardships and triumphs of their lives and about the widening gap between themselves and the rest of Canada.
Generation gaps are as old as humankind, but rarely has there been as much misunderstanding and veiled animosity as there is between young and old today. Robert Collins accounts for the prejudices, pokes fun at the rivalries, and, with humour and sympathy, invites younger Canadians to re-examine their parents’ or grandparents’ lives and consider, maybe for the first time, the true proportion of their legacy.