A Few Acres of Snow by Paul Simpson-Housley, Glen Norcliffe

By Paul Simpson-Housley, Glen Norcliffe

In 1759, Voltaire in Candide noted Canada as "quelques arpents de neige." For a number of centuries, the picture prevailed and used to be the only most often utilized by poets, writers, and illustrators. Canada used to be perceived and portrayed as a chilly, not easy, and unforgiving land. this was once no longer a land for the fainthearted. Canada has yieled its wealth basically reluctantly, whereas periodically threatening lifestyles itself with its screens of fury. gaining knowledge of its attractiveness and hidden assets calls for persistence and perseverance. a couple of Acres of Snow is a colletion of 22 essays that discover, from the geographer's point of view, how poets, artists, and writers have addressed the actual essence of Canada, either panorama and cityscape. "Sense of position" is obviously serious within the works tested during this quantity. incorporated one of the book's many topics are Hugh MacLennan, Gabrielle Roy, Lucius O'Brien, the paintings of the Inuit, Lawren Harris, Malcolm Lowry, C.W. Jefferys, L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Bishop, Marmaduke Matthews, Antonine Mailet, and the poetry of jap Canadians.

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The landscape unfolds smoothly as the words flow in from the sea and divide to either side of the viewer, swelling inward and leaving the reader with a precise geographical setting - a word-map of a landscape that was here being described for the first time in a popular Canadian novel. Hugh MacLennan was indeed writing Canada into being, and this caught the attention of his readers from the very first pages. Startled, they read on, eager to see more of their land and, in seeing, to know and assimilate it.

MacLennan's fascination with geological time comes through clearly here, giving a new depth to his interpretation of the land: It is as though millions of years back in geologic time a sword had been plunged through the rock from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes and Hugh MacLennan 25 savagely wrenched out again, and the pure water of the continental reservoir, unmuddied and almost useless to farmers, drains untouchably away. (1) Clearly, there is an assured and imaginative control of the material here, for the passage in effect introduces the essential subject of the novel: the two "solitudes" of English and French Canada.

George E. Desbarats declared that his intention was to illustrate the Dominion of Canada, its scenery, its industries, its cities, its attractions and resources, its great public works . . we are for building up a homogeneous, united, patriotic nation, and for ignoring all prejudices of race and sex; marching onward, shoulder to shoulder to the goal of prosperity that looms ahead. (Burant 1984, 121) Eventually, the Desbarats' journals were to reproduce and circulate more than 15,000 images of places, people, and events during their fourteen years of The Kindling Touch of Imagination 31 operation.

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