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Book Reviews 381 her own version of events, even if they can only be acknowledged by her mother and sisters. She did not want to be ignored in the r95os. Nor, as revealed in the few words we have from her when she was eighty-four, does she want to be forgotten in the r99os. Access to this type of normally private commentary is an inestimable boon to the social histori_ an. The physical, intellectual, and emotional .work of making a life for oneself, one's family, and one's community are movingly laid out in details that few public documents preserve. Ruby's letters ultimately supply a salutary reminder of the past's, indeed our parents,' right to tell their own story in their own way. Ifwe listen closely to Ruby and her contemporaries, we will learn that the generation of the r95os represents more than mere creators of today's self-absorbed boomers. VERONICA STRONG-BOAG University ofBritish Columbia Canadian Papers in Rural History, vol. IO. Edited by DONALD J. AKENSON . Gananoque: Langdale Press 1996. $49.50 This is the tenth and final volume of Donald Akenson's Canadian Papers in Rural History. In these volumes, Akenson has provided a forum for historians of the countryside to publish their works and, as he noted in the first volume, explore the lives of people who shaped this country while 'working the ground.' It seems appropriate, then, to comment on the history produced by this series. In this particular volume, with twelve virtually unrelated essays, exclusion should not be construed as commentary. Volume IO finds us in well-known territory, as well as on some less frequently trod ground. On the latter front, I very much enjoyed Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's piece on the antinomies of the 'Okies' from Oklahoma. She reflects on the wide range of political positions she has witnessed in her family's past three generations, from voting for Eugene Debs to voting for Ronald Reagan; from the Steinbeck-like trek that these Americans took across dust-bowl America to the neo-con suburbs of Los Angeles, a place (or more accurately a space and a history) that was variously socialist, exceptionalist, imperialist, and white supremacist. She situates this place in the history of the Ulster Scots who emigrated to both England and America. These 'foot soldiers of empire,' as she calls them, represent an underplayed element of the frontier: the broader bases ofrugged individualism, rooted here in both early modern and modern colonialisms. Similarly, Clint Evans's discussion of 'weeds [as] cultural artefacts' is a fascinating discussion of a place where environmental history properly meets both people and 382 The Canadian Historical Review nature. His overview of the role of the state, cultural transfer, and 'improvement' neatly illustrates how weeds, too, became the objects of conquest for the empires of European Christendom. R.W. Sandwell's innovative discussion of 'peasants on the [British Columbia] coast' strives for an application of Joan Scott's insights on the role of statistics in the construction of gender, and particularly the construction of 'woman.' Sandwell argues that the couplet urban/rural was constructed in a manner similar to that of man/woman. In effect, she maintains that there are correspondences in the way state-created statistics organized, and therefore authorized, the discursive production of 'rural.' Then, searching for moments outside that dominant framework, she attempts to construct a kind of counter-history. This is a potentially important argument. The manner by which the rural was categorized and defined in nineteenth-century state documents is a significant avenue for research, because such constructions not only had important historical effects but continue to have equally important implications for historians' practice. At the same time, I was unsure of some of the evidence, particularly of lives lived outside that dominant framework. I would want to see more evidence of what lay outside that text. Other essays take us into more familiar territory. William Marr, for example, offers us more data on farm production in mid-nineteenthcentury Ontario. Disaggregating wheat figures from the 1851 census of Canada West by farm size and number of years under the plough, he finds that, despite significant variation...


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