Marchand, Philip 1946–

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Marchand, Philip 1946–

(Philip Edward Marchand)


Born December 18, 1946, in Pittsfield, MA; son of Alphonse Joseph (an architect) and Malberge (a homemaker) Marchand; married Catherine Schuler, May 25, 1968 (divorced July 7, 1976); married Patricia Joan Thorvaldson (an editor), December 6, 1981. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1969, M.A., 1971. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Watercolors, playing the banjo.


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—Anne McDermid & Associates, 83 Willcocks St., Toronto, Ontario M5S 1C9, Canada.


Writer, journalist. Toronto Star, books columnist, 1989-2008, freelance journalist, beginning 1971.


Magazine writing award from Canadian Authors' Association, 1978; Magazine Writing Awards from Periodical Distributors of Canada, 1979, 1991; A.C. Forrest Award for religious journalism, 1982; Hubert Evans nonfiction prize, 1990, for Marshall McLuhan; James W. Carey award for outstanding media ecology journalism, 2007; three National Magazine awards from National Magazine Awards Foundation of Canada.


Just Looking, Thank You, Macmillan of Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976.

Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1989, revised edition, foreword by Neal Postman, MIT Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature, Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America, Praeger Publishers (Westport, CT), 2007.

Also author of crime novel, Deadly Spirits. Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Maclean's, Saturday Night, and Toronto Life.


The descendent of French settlers from Quebec, Canada, Philip Marchand was born and raised in Massachusetts. As a college student, he attended the University of Toronto, and thereafter he has lived and worked in Canada, primarily residing in Toronto. A freelance journalist since the early 1970s, Marchand is the author of nonfiction works as well as a novel. His Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger is still considered a primary text in the understanding of that Canadian communications theorist, best known for his phrase, "the medium is the message." McLuhan had, by the late 1960s, become an unlikely celebrity. As George McCartney noted in the National Review: "[McLuhan] announced the end of literacy and spoke oracularly of a world transformed into a global village, pulsating with the tom-toms of electronic media." Reviewing Marshall McLuhan in Canadian Literature, E. Hamilton commented: "Rather than subordinating the life to the ideas, or vice versa—ideas which are, generally speaking, respected and vital long after their inception—Marchand integrates the ideas into the fabric of a life which is not always as pleasant or as easily digestible as some readers might like." McCartney also had praise for this work, observing: "Marchand's book puts us in touch with the real McLuhan."

Marchand was the books columnist for the Toronto Star for almost twenty years. He gathered a decade of his reviews and writings in the 1998 work Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature. Writing in World Literature Today, Richard Henry noted that "Marchand's topics are wide-ranging, interesting, and engaging: from essays on the Gothic, on fathers, and on the occult in Canadian literature, to essays on individual authors—[Timothy] Findley, [Robertson] Davies, [Mordecai] Richler, and [Alice] Munro." Henry went on to note, however, that Marchand "failed in his attempt to expunge Margaret Atwood from his personal literary horizon. She haunts this collection, invoked at every turn." George L. Parker, writing in Canadian Literature, had further praise for Ripostes, concluding: "Marchand brings enthusiasm and commitment to his role as … a critic."

Marchand turned historian, memoirist, and traveler in his 2007 title, Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America, in which he traces the route of the seventeenth-century French explorer La Salle throughout North America. Marchand tracks the route from Canada, down the Mississippi, and into present-day Texas, where La Salle was murdered by his own men. The author posits the possibility of a huge French empire throughout North America if it had not been for this death. A reviewer for Internet Bookwatch called this book "an exciting alternative history." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor wrote: "If it's possible for people to internalize their history, then here is an inveigling and thoughtful example." Canadian Journal of History contributor Dale Miquelon commended Marchand's study, noting: "There are some fine historical discussions in the book." Ontario History reviewer Stephen Kenny concluded: "If an important part of true historical sensitivity be memory, then both Marchand's deeply emotional search for his past and his profound dismay at its loss should be considered the most admirable and essential contribution of these pages. His book can most certainly be judged a worthy if imperfect enterprise. Read it and weep!"



Beaver, February 1, 2006, Ronald Lavallee, review of Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America, p. 46.

Booklist, April 1, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of Ghost Empire, p. 21.

Canadian Journal of History, March 22, 2006, Dale Miquelon, review of Ghost Empire, p. 201.

Catholic New Times, January 29, 2006, Raymond Beauchemin, review of Ghost Empire, p. 17.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 22, 1989, review of Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger.

Internet Bookwatch, September, 2007, review of Ghost Empire.

National Review, June 30, 1989, George McCartney, review of Marshall McLuhan, p. 46.

New York Times, March 20, 1989, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Marshall McLuhan, p. B2.

Ontario History, spring, 2006, Stephen Kenny, review of Ghost Empire.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2007, review of Ghost Empire.

World Literature Today, spring, 1999, Richard Henry, review of Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature, p. 333.


Canadian Literature, (March 15, 2008), George L. Parker, review of Ripostes; E. Hamilton, review of Marshall McLuhan.

Philip Marchand Home Page, (March 15, 2008).

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Marchand, Philip 1946–

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