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Contemporary Canadian Literary Responses to World War I
Catching the Torch examines contemporary novels and plays written about Canada’s participation in World War I. Exploring such works as Jane Urquhart’s The Underpainter and The Stone Carvers, Jack Hodgins’s Broken Ground, Kevin Kerr’s Unity (1918), Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding, and Frances Itani’s Deafening, the book considers how writers have dealt with the compelling myth that the Canadian nation was born in the trenches of the Great War.
In contrast to British and European remembrances of WWI, which tend to regard it as a cataclysmic destroyer of innocence, or Australian myths that promote an ideal of outsize masculinity, physical bravery, and white superiority, contemporary Canadian texts conjure up notions of distinctively Canadian values: tolerance of ethnic difference, the ability to do one’s duty without complaint or arrogance, and the inclination to show moral as well as physical courage. Paradoxically, Canadians are shown to decry the horrors of war while making use of its productive cultural effects.
Through a close analysis of the way sacrifice, service, and the commemoration of war are represented in these literary works, Catching the Torch argues that iterations of a secure mythic notion of national identity, one that is articulated via the representation of straightforward civic and military participation, work to counter current anxieties about the stability of the nation-state, in particular anxieties about the failure of the ideal of a national “character.”
A Scottish-Canadian Life
“Dour Scot” is the wrong description for David Caldow, who leads readers on a romp from the early twentieth century to the present, from an insular Scottish village to modern-day, multicultural British Columbia, from boyhood to old age. Throughout the tour he shares decades of laughter, tears, fears, and growth.
In 1910, the certain path of David’s life in Scotland is disrupted by the visit of an awe-inspiring comet. This brilliant visitor inspires the boy to dream of circling the world, like the comet, even though his life’s goal is to become a farm manager, like his father. As a young man seeking to fulfill his dreams, he travels to Canada and works his way from Quebec to British Columbia, guided by the lessons of his father and his memories of Scotland.
During his travels he grows in his understanding of himself, of the nature of love, of the ways of the world and its peoples, and of the poetry of Robert Burns. As a worker for the Farmer’s Institute and as farm manager for Colony Farm and Tranquille, two extensive BC government-owned farms, David contributes to raising the standards of Canadian agriculture. At seventy years old, he broadens the scope of his world even further, accepting a two-year Canadian federal-government position teaching farming in Tanzania.
Chasing the Comet is a true story that reads like fiction. David’s candour and his Scottish humour help him survive and thrive. In the book’s epilogue, David ponders the meaning of all his years of living, addressing questions such as: What is love? What is success? And how does one achieve them?
David Caldow lived an active life in Surrey, British Columbia until his death at the age of ninety-six.
First Governor of New France
In The Chevalier de Montmagny, Jean-Claude Dubé documents the extraordinary career of Charles Huault de Montmagny, first governor of the colony of New France. Born in Paris in 1601, and educated by the Jesuits, Montmagny studied law at the Université d'Orléans, joined the Order of Malta, and enjoyed a colourful career as a Hospitalier privateer in the Mediterranean, before arriving in New France in the spring of 1636.
While Montmagny wasted little time in applying the experience he gained fighting the Ottoman Turks to New France's disputes with the Iroquois, he has also been credited with playing a key role in both ensuring the survival of the colony and the entrenchment of a religious elite. His exploits caught the imagination of Cyrano de Bergerac, who later cast Montmagny as a character in his novel L'autre monde.
This well-documented study - which in its original French edition was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award in 1999 - adds an important dimension to our understanding of the social, religious, and political history of New France.
Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century
With the exception of Canada’s relationship with the United States, Canada’s relationship with China will likely be its most significant foreign connection in the twenty-first century. As China’s role in world politics becomes more central, understanding China becomes essential for Canadian policymakers and policy analysts in a variety of areas. Responding to this need, The China Challenge brings together perspectives from both Chinese and Canadian experts on the evolving Sino-Canadian relationship. It traces the history and looks into the future of Canada-China bilateral relations. It also examines how China has affected a number of Canadian foreign and domestic policy issues, including education, economics, immigration, labour and language.
Recently, Canada-China relations have suffered from inadequate policymaking and misunderstandings on the part of both governments. Establishing a good dialogue with China must be a Canadian priority in order to build and maintain mutually beneficial relations with this emerging power, which will last into the future.
The Life of Mary Austin Endicott
Mary Austin was a mayor’s daughter who expected to live an uneventful life in Canada. But when she said “I do” to Jim Endicott she found that she had “married China.”
Thrust into extraordinary circumstances, but undeterred by the political turmoil around her in China, Mary Austin Endicott determined she would achieve the goals she set for herself. She bore and raised four children, ran a one-room school and became the foster mother to three Chinese boys, despite the raised eyebrows of many of her fellow missionaries.
The family moved back to Canada, but it wasn’t long before Jim, who was becoming a well-known peace activist, returned to wartorn China. Mary, by then a school trustee, continued her fight for teachers’ rights and focussed her energy on increased activity in left-wing politics, all the while separated from Jim and grieving for a marriage she felt to be in jeopardy.
Mary and Jim were finally reunited in 1947 in the police state Shanghai had become. She used all her energy and faith in that time to help Jim regain his equilibrium. For thousands of readers her book Five Stars over China countered the common practice during the Cold War of vilifying the Chinese Revolution. Then her greatest crisis came: Jim was accused of treason.
Shirley Jane Endicott has presented us with a fascinating account of her mother’s life, based on Mary Austin Endicott’s private writings and flavoured with Shirley’s memories. She brings to life the story of an exceptional woman whose life was shaped by profound political and historical circumstances.
Control and Order in French Colonial Louisbourg, 1713-1758 is the culmination of nearly a quarter century of research and writing on 18th-century Louisbourg by A. J. B. Johnston. The author uses a multitude of primary archival sources-official correspondence, court records, parish registries, military records, and hundreds of maps and plans-to put together a detailed analysis of a distinctive colonial society. Located on Cape Breton Island (then known as Île Royale), the seaport and stronghold of Louisbourg emerged as one of the most populous and important settlements in all of New France. Its economy was based on fishing and trade, and the society that developed there had little or nothing to do with the fur trade, or the seigneurial regime that characterized the Canadian interior. Johnston traces the evolution of a broad range of controlling measures that were introduced and adapted to achieve an ordered civil and military society at Louisbourg. Town planning, public celebrations, diversity in the population, use of punishments, excessive alcohol consumption, the criminal justice system, and sexual abuse are some of the windows that reveal attempts to control and regulate society. A. J. B. Johnston's Control and Order in French Colonial Louisbourg offers both a broad overview of the colony's evolution across its half-century of existence, and insightful analyses of the ways in which control was integrated into the mechanisms of everyday life.
The Poetry of M. Travis Lane
The Crisp Day Closing on My Hand: The Poetry of M. Travis Lane is a collection of thirty-five of her best poems, selected with an introduction by Jeanette Lynes. An environmentalist, feminist, and peace activist, M. Travis Lane is known for witty and meticulously crafted poems that explore the elusive nature of “home” in both historical and present contexts and reflect on the identity of the woman poet and what it means to be a writer. Lane’s poems exhibit impressive range and variety—long poems, short lyrics, serial poems, poems inspired by visual art—and are richly attentive to the landscapes, both urban and wild, of her New Brunswick home. They voice a sense of urgency with respect to ecological crises and war; her poetic attention fixes unwaveringly on the smallest pebble on the coast of Fundy but is equally attuned to global patterns of destructive domination.
In her introduction “As Opportunity for Grace, This Life May Serve”, editor Jeanette Lynes discusses how Lane’s poetry integrates an ecopoetic vision with explorations of the artist’s task of mapping her world. Lane’s afterword reinforces her sense of the poet’s project as a form of mystical play, a search for patterns in the “unified disunities” of all things.
Indigenity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies
Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies is the third volume of essays produced as part of the TransCanada conferences project. The essays gathered in Critical Collaborations constitute a call for collaboration and kinship across disciplinary, political, institutional, and community borders. They are tied together through a simultaneous call for resistance—to Eurocentrism, corporatization, rationalism, and the fantasy of total systems of knowledge—and a call for critical collaborations. These collaborations seek to forge connections without perceived identity—linking concepts and communities without violating the differences that constitute them, seeking epistemic kinships while maintaining a willingness to not-know. In this way, they form a critical conversation between seemingly distinct areas and demonstrate fundamental allegiances between diasporic and indigenous scholarship, transnational and local knowledges, legal and eco-critical methodologies. Links are forged between Indigenous knowledge and ecological and social justice, creative critical reading, and ambidextrous epistemologies, unmaking the nation through translocalism and unsettling histories of colonial complicity through a poetics of relation. Together, these essays reveal how the critical methodologies brought to bear on literary studies can both challenge and exceed disciplinary structures, presenting new forms of strategic transdisciplinarity that expand the possibilities of Canadian literary studies while also emphasizing humility, complicity, and the limits of knowledge.