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128 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 deserves the honour, and many of the writings should lead to further analysis and investigation. Michael Behiels and Marcel Martel are to be congratulated. (DOUG OWRAM) Theodore Binnema, Gerhard J. Ens, and R. C. MacLeod, editors. From Rupert=s Land to Canada University of Alberta Press. xxxiii, 292. $34.95 From Rupert=s Land to Canada is a festschrift celebrating the work of John Elgin Foster (1938B1996), student, professor, and scholar at the University of Alberta. In effect, it is a document put together by colleagues, students, and friends in lieu of Foster=s own studies left uncompleted at his death: >a guide to Metis Historical Studies, A History of the Wintering Village at Buffalo Lake, and a general history of the Metis in North America.= A festschrift cannot take the place of the work Foster was about, of course, but it is, none the less, useful and informative regarding his scholarly area. In their introduction, the editors position From Rupert=s Land to Canada as >a source for undergraduate courses on the Canadian West,= referring specifically to their sketch of Foster, to his essay (included) on ethnogenesis of the Metis, and to the bibliography of his writings. Despite extensive reservations regarding the editing and proofreading of the book generally, particularly with regard to the wretched writing in several of the essays (an undergraduate >source=?), one can see its usefulness as an introduction to various issues in the field. Particularly heartening is the book=s recognition of teaching as a significant scholarly activity, given its proper roots in such research as Foster pursued. The effectiveness of teaching as publication is demonstrated throughout the book as Foster=s colleagues and students testify to the abiding influence upon them of his personal guidance and engagement as a teacher. After some thirty pages of introductory material (a foreword by Lewis G. Thomas, a biographical sketch of Foster as student and scholar, a bibliography of his writings, acknowledgments, a list of contributors, and a map), the main text of From Rupert=s Land to Canada is divided into three sections: (1) >Native History and the Fur Trade in Western Canada= (eight essays); (2) >Metis History= (four essays, including one of Foster=s own); (3) >The Imagined West= (four essays). The editors have appended some hitherto unpublished papers by Louis Riel, together with commentary and translations (Foster acted as co-ordinator for the 1985 publication of his Collected Writings), but they admit that the documents will not >revolutionize the study of Louis Riel.= The book would be greatly strengthened by the addition of a simple general narrative of the history of the West in the period covered. Some larger context than that offered by individual essays would go far to make humanities 129 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 the latter intelligible to an undergraduate. Michael Payne=s essay on >Fur Trade Historiography= offers an excellent introduction to the shifting ground of historical writing in the area, but one needs more. Even a simple chronicle of dates and events would be useful. Further, one could wish that the genuinely interesting and useful discussions of marriage practices within the fur trade by Jennifer S.H. Brown and Heather Rollason Driscoll could have brought to bear some consciousness of the European history of marriage. The phrase >tender ties,= used in reference to the connection of fur trader and his >country wife,= is insufficiently informed by a larger sense of history. De Rougemont=s argument, for example, that love is peculiar to Islamic and Christian cultures could be significant when considering the implications of a European=s >turning off= a Native >country wife= for a white European Christian. What were the cultural assumptions of the partners? What confirms or sanctifies human connections of this kind as properly extending beyond sex, children, and material support? Like the book as a whole, these essays and several others are good, but in need of firmer direction and greater clarity. This said, From Rupert=s Land to Canada remains a worthy memorial of a worthy scholar and teacher. (KENNETH M. MCKAY...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 128-129
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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