Chapter 5
Past and Lintel: Houses and Memory

by D.M.R. Bentley


[They] heard so often, “There shall stand our home–
“On yonder slope, with vines about the door!”
That the good wives were almost made to see
The snowy walls, deep porches, and the gleam
Of Katie’s garments flitting through the rooms;
And the black slope all bristling with burn’d stumps
Was known amongst them all as “Max’s House.”

–Isabella Valancy Crawford, Malcolm’s Katie:
a Love Story 2: 247-53

Of whatever it is constructed, except it be solely of fantasy, a house transforms its portion of space into a place. As a fixed entity, it is permanently there (and here) unless and until it is demolished. As a building in a location, it enters the virtual reality of surveys, maps, postal directories, address books. As a solid but holey enclosure, it separates its inside from the outside while permitting entrance, egress, and vistas.1 As a place, an entity, a location, an address to visit, stay, leave, live at or in, it acquires distances to and from creates nearness and farness, engenders associations and prompts memories, enters and even inspires literary texts. Much of this is captured by Martin Heidegger when he writes in “Building Dwelling Thinking” that, “by virtue of constructing locations,” “building ... is a founding and joining of spaces” (Poetry, Language, Thought 158) and by Wallace Stevens when he writes in “Anecdote of the Jar” that, when “placed ... upon a hill,” a jar “ma[kes] the slovenly wilderness / Surround that hill” and “[takes] dominion everywhere” (21). Much of it would also have been well understood by the settlers and builders of early Canada and by the writers who, like Isabella Valancy Crawford, responded textually to the buildings and settlements, villages and cities, that they saw or imagined around them as aspects of space in the process of being made into a home place.

    As well as being landmarks and place-makers, houses are the products of memories and the producers of memories. Whether in reality or in texts, they are “memory-homes” (Matt Cohen (1942-99) (Elizabeth and After 13) from the very moment of their conception and construction, whether mental or physical. Since most early emigrants had no idea – that is, memory – of what a log house looks like, emigrant ships were advised to carry “models of houses” to enable passengers to build “mimic log houses” of “sticks” during the voyage across the Atlantic (Robert Mudie, The Emigrant’s Pocket Companion [1832] qtd. in Guillet 78). Houses like the one that Max has built by the end of Malcolm’s Katie – a “little home … of unbark’d trees” with a “trellis’d porch” (7:37,4) – could not have been imagined into existence or into the poem without memories of similar houses. Always retrospective in form and style, houses are also “triggers” of memory or, as Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre would have it “memory machine[s]” (8), by dint of their ability to prompt personal reminiscences and to evoke the longer past, be it historical, political, or artistic. “I am home. / Old farmhouse, … talk about … the first time we met,” writes Michael Ondaatje (1943- ) of visiting friends in Wawanosh, Ontario after several months away; “in the 1830’s” “We would be plotting revolution…. And outside the same heat …” (Secular Love [1984] 110-11). “[I]t was there that the traitor Benedict Anderson lived while in Canada,” wrote Elizabeth S. Tucker of a house in Fredericton, New Brunswick nearly a century earlier. “A pile of ruins is now all that is left of the place … [but] [h]ere once was heard the martial tread of this mysterious man as he walked up and down in meditation bent …” (22). John Ruskin may have been exaggerating when he claimed in The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) that “there are but two conquerors of … forgetfulness …, Poetry and Architecture; and the latter in some sort includes the former, and is mightier in its reality” (148), but he was surely right to identify memory – the capacity to evoke and inspire – as one of architecture’s salient and most valuable qualities.

    During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the absence of “gothic tow’rs” and “pillars glowing with Corinthian flowers” (Bayley 455-56) in Canada’s urban and rural landscapes was occasionally noted and usually regarded as of little importance in view of the country’s other amenities (see Chapter 1: Preliminary). By the end of the nineteenth century, however, several factors, including the nationalism that came with nationhood and the nostalgia that came with modernity, had generated extensive interest in Canada’s past and its historic buildings (see the Annex to Chapter 4: Rising and Spreading Villages). This interest in turn helped to prepare the ground for the Canadian wing of the heritage movement, which would come to full strength in the decades preceding the Millennium, when “accelerating technical processes,” “increased mobility around the globe,” and a crisis of belief in progress created an intense “need for temporal anchoring” and “a memory boom of unprecedented proportions” (Huyssen 5-9, and see Bentley, Mnemographia 1: xvi-xxiii). That these developments produced a large number of Canadian architexts that are concerned to a greater or lesser extent with remembering comes as no surprise, but what is a little surprising at first blush is the extent to which such architexts focus, not on museums, historic sites, and other official aides mémoires, but on houses: to be sure there are historically retrospective responses in prose and poetry to the Brock Monument, the Quebec Citadel, Fort Anne, Fort MacLeod, and numerous other official monuments,2 but the preferred triggers of memory in Canada both before and after Confederation have been domestic buildings.


In the nineteenth century especially (though by no means exclusively), the houses that worked most effectively as memory triggers were ones that were known or felt to have been the sites of “passion, … action, and … lived experience” and thus come to possess what Henri Lefebvre terms an “affective kernel or centre” (42). The oak tree near Queenston where Thomas Moore was believed to have composed “Ballad Stanzas” during his visit to the Niagara region in 1804 was dubbed “Moore’s Oak” and became an object of poetic and patriotic veneration.3 While travelling from the Talbot Settlement to the head of Lake Erie in 1819, John Howison took shelter from a snow storm in “the remains of a large Indian wigwam” and, as “the flakes of snow fell in noiseless succession among the boughs of the leafless woods” beneath a “sombre” sky and in “a calmness that amounted to solemnity,” observed and pondered his surroundings:

Several fragments of Indian utensils, and likewise the skull of a deer, lay near me, while the blackness of one spot of ground showed where a fire had once been. It seemed almost inconceivable, that human beings should be permanent inhabitants of this wilderness, – that domestic ties and affections should often brighten the gloom of such a solitude, – and that those leading passions, which agitate the hearts of all men, should be elicited and brought into action amidst the appalling loneliness and depressing monotony of the boundless forest. The decaying vestiges of human existence, which the wigwam exhibited, made the scene appear more desert and affecting than it would otherwise have done. (185-86)

In “Legends of the Early Settlers” (1847) by “Cinna,” the historical events recounted in the sketch are introduced by a vignette of Johnstown (now Prescott, Ontario),4 its “streets,” “decay[ing] Court House (1842), and the“one storey” house in the “Dutch style, with sharp pointed roof, and curious gables,” in which “John Graves Simcoe … held his levee, on his first arrival in Upper Canada” (199). “Young Canada … may be more prone to look forward to the future with hope, than back on the past with regret,” avers the narrator, “[y]et the house in which … Simcoe reposed himself and cast his martial eye over the gracefully curving bay, the sparkling [St. Lawrence] river, and the dilapidated fortifications of the old French ascendancy [Fort de Lévis (1760)] … may still be an object of interest … in a Province, which owes so much of its present prosperity to the good commencement made by one possessed of his historic heroism, humanity, and noble self-denial in the cause of an exiled race [that is, the Loyalists].” Unusual in style, modest in size, and only tenuously connected to Simcoe, the house is nevertheless for “Cinna” a means of connecting the past to the present and of asserting a continuity of values and achievement. As was the case with the oak that became Moore’s and the Native remains that moved Howison, “an affective kernel or centre” a “knowledge” of “what happened at a particular spot or place and thereby changed it” has created a “representational space” in which objects (the tree, the remains, the house) retain their physical existence and, at the same time, become legible and symbolic texts (Lefebvre 42, 37, 39).

    A similar process can be seen at work in the chapter on “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge” with which Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865) begins the third series of The Clockmaker (1840). The Lodge in question – an ornate structure on Bedford Basin near Halifax whose only surviving component is a circular neoclassical music pavilion (see Kalman 1: 132-33) – was not in fact “owned” by the Duke of Kent, as Haliburton asserts (Sam Slick 285) but leased to him during his sojourns in Nova Scotia during the seventeen nineties by the then lieutenant governor, Sir John Wentworth (MacNutt 297). Nor was it merely “the scene of [the Duke’s] munificent hospitalities” (Sam Slick 284), but the residence that he shared with Thérèse-Bernadine Montegnet (Madame de Saint-Laurent), his beloved companion for twenty-seven years prior to his marriage in 1818 to Victoria Mary Louisa, the mother of Queen Victoria. A Burkean Tory bent on strengthening Canada’s ties with Britain as a bulwark against the United States, Haliburton both elides the scandalous history of the Prince’s Lodge (as it is more commonly known) and emphasizes its royal associations. It is “the only ruin of any extent in Nova Scotia, and the only spot either associated with royalty, or set apart and consecrated to solitude and decay” (287). By virtue of “the long and close connection … between them [and Queen Victoria’s] illustrious parent,” Nova Scotians “feel a … lively interest in, and a devoted attachment to,” the Monarch and “flatter themselves [that] her Majesty … will condescend to regard them as ‘the Queen’s own’” (288). “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge” is, indeed, as Haliburton’s biographer, V.L.O. Chittick remarks, a “rhapsody to royalty” and “a creditable example of the graveyard school of composition” that constitutes an early phase of British Romanticism (470, 308).

    Because the Prince’s Lodge is a visible sign of “the bonds of affection” between Nova Scotia and Britain, its rapid “decay” can only be for Haliburton a dismaying sign of the disintegration of the imperial relationship. This is not stated directly in “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge” but it is clearly evident in the elegiac tone of the sketch. Everything about the “ruin,” from its “tottering fence” to its “silence and desolation,” “bespeak a rapid and premature decay … and tell of … the transitory nature of all earthly things” (284-85). “[M]ost depressing” is the speed with which the wood of which the Lodge was constructed has decayed. Unlike the “massive” brick and stone ruins of European “antiquity,” which “exhibit the remains of great strength, and though injured and defaced by the slow and almost imperceptible agency of time, promise to continue thus mutilated for ages to come,” “a wooden ruin shows rank and rapid decay, concentrates its interest on one family, or one man, and resembles a mangled corpse rather than the monument that covers it. It has no historical importance, no ancestral record. It awakens not the imagination” (285). Of course, Haliburton’s own imaginative response to the “historical” and “ancestral” implications of the Prince’s Lodge has already belied these assertions. Wooden it may be, but in The Clockmaker “the only ruin … in Nova Scotia … associated with royalty” becomes a bleak memento mori, a resonant symbol of the mutability and demise of all earthly things, including “the first and fairest empire in the world” (287).

    “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge” begins with the hopeful assertion that “[t]he communication by steam between Nova Scotia and England will form a new era in colonial history” (283), but the present and projected conditions of the Prince’s Lodge are an architectural narrative with a very different ending. Not only has the “vegetable decomposition” of its wood made it “deformed, gross, and repulsive,” but “[th]e forest is … reclaiming its own so fast that in a “few years … all trace of it will have disappeared for ever” (285). Already in 1828, less than ten years after the Duke of Kent’s death, the eaves of the Lodge are full of “luxuriant clover” and “coarse grasses,” and its wooden “portico … present[s] a mass of vegetable matter, from which ha[s] sprung up a young and vigorous birch-tree, whose strength and freshness seem … to mock the helpless weakness that nourishe[s] it” (285-86). The near-bathetic pathos of these statements and an accompanying note stating that between 1828 and 1840 both “porch and tree … disappeared” (286) indicates the depth of Haliburton’s dismay at the “relapse into nature” (286) that he continued to find at the Prince’s Lodge. What future could there be for the British presence and the imperial connection “in a climate where the living wood grows so rapidly, and the dead decays so soon,” where the residence of the “commander-in-chief of the [British] forces in th[e] colony” could so quickly have become the “mouldering” abode of “the ill-omened bat” (286, 184, 287)? Small wonder that in 1856 Haliburton emigrated to England and, as a Tory parliamentarian and pamphleteer, continued to argue “for the development of a colonial empire with an improved communication system” (Cogswell 355).

    More important than this proleptic aspect of “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge,” however, is its rôle in giving the Prince’s Lodge a virtual existence that has persisted long after all but a portion of what the sketch describes, interprets, and theorizes. Of course, the prominence, if not the persistence, of Haliburton’s sketch as a component of Canadian literature and culture is contingent on its literary merit, the esteem in which its author is held, and, hence, on the vicissitudes of taste and reputation. To Archibald MacMechan, writing as a conservative and anti-Modernist in the nineteen twenties, “The Duke of Kent’s Lodge” was the “finest essay in serious prose” of one of the world’s great humorists (see 39 and 188), but to R.E. Rashley, writing in the ’fifties after the Modernist cry for newness had reverberated through Canadian culture, it was remarkable only for a “feeling of inferiority [that] helps to account for the absence of real feeling from immigrant verse” (10). When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited Canada in the early ’twenties he was delighted by the “villages and villas” that “adorn[ed]” “the beautiful shores of the St. Lawrence” but dismayed to discover the “small house of stone … in which Tom Moore dwelt and where he wrote the ‘Canadian Boat Song’” bore “[n]o medallion” to commemorate the event (qtd. in Colombo 99). When John Robert Colombo collected material for Canadian Literary Landmarks in the early ’eighties the house had been transformed by the Victorian Order of Nurses into a restaurant called Au P’tit Café. Today, Haliburton’s own house in Windsor, Nova Scotia is a heritage building, but it is unlikely to draw as many visitors as it did in the eighteen eighties and ’nineties when the Windsor and Annapolis Railway was touting tours of “The Land of Evangeline” that included a “visit [to] the home of the immortal ‘Sam Slick,’ known at his own fireside as Judge Haliburton.”5 As will shortly be seen, this would not be the last time that a house in the Maritimes became home to a literary character for the purpose of attracting tourists and boosting the local economy.

    Since Upper Canada (or Canada West as it became in 1840) contained relatively few of “Cinna”’s “objects of interest” in the early nineteenth century, those that did exist, usually by association with prominent military and/or administrative figures like Brock and Simcoe, attracted a good deal of attention, and residents and visitors alike who were in search of historical buildings often travelled far afield to find them. In the wake of Romanticism, numerous writers registered “the appalling loneliness and depressing monotony” of the province’s “boundless forests” (Howison 186) as either “exciting to the fancy,” “oppressive to the spirits” (Jameson 237), or conducive to “a feeling of gloom almost touching on sadness” (Traill, Backwoods 63), but among the first to regard abandoned log houses as “monuments” to blighted hopes and to make a pilgrimage to a log house associated with a famous person was Sir Francis Bond Head (1793-1875), the luckless lieutenant-governor of the province during the rebellions of 1837-38. Writing in The Emigrant (1846) of the “deserted log-huts” standing amid overgrown tree stumps that he frequently saw while “riding through the forest,” he confesses that “[t]here was something that … [he] always felt to be deeply affecting in passing these little monuments of the failure of human expectations”:

The courage that had been evinced in settling in the heart of the wilderness, and the amount of labour that had been expended in cutting down so many large trees, had all ended in disappointment, and occasionally in sorrows of the severest description. The arm that had wielded the axe had perhaps become gradually enervated by ague …, until death had slowly terminated the existence of the poor emigrant, leaving a broken-hearted woman and a helpless family with nothing to look to for support but the clear bright blue heavens above them. (89-90)

Bond Head proceeds to recount grizly stories about particular log-huts and then tells of riding “some miles out of … [his] way” while travelling to Ottawa in order to “visit … [the] lone shanty” where “nearly thirty years” earlier, on August 28, 1819, the then governor general of the Canadas, the Duke of Richmond, died of rabies-induced hydrophobia (90-107). “As I remained for a few minutes on horse-back before the hovel which commemorates … the well-known facts” of the Duke of Richmond’s horrific final hours, he concludes, “I deeply felt, and have ever since been of opinion, that there exists in the British peerage no name that is recollected in Canada … with such affectionate regard as that noble Englishman and English nobleman, Charles Lennox, the late Duke of Richmond” (107).

    Flowing from many of the same Romantic springs as the acute sensitivity displayed by Bond Head were the valorisation of the peasantry and the reverence for wild Nature that by the eighteen seventies had combined with American frontier mythology to make the log cabin an icon of pioneer simplicity and proximity to the wilderness.6 Scott Symons' contention that “the ‘log cabin legend’ simply didn’t belong in Canada” (Place d’Armes 6) reflects a loathing of American culture and an insistence on Canada’s distinctiveness that have not always been as well developed as Canadian nationalists have hoped. Within three years of the iconographically seminal Pioneer Log Cabin at the American Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876, “John Scadding’s cabin, built in 1794 on the east bank of the Don River,” was installed in “Exhibition Park in Toronto … to memorialize … [the city’s] oldest house” (Gowans Building Canada 6). The foundations had now been laid for the elevation of the log cabin into “the great frontier symbol of Upper Canada” and for the emergence of a literary sub-genre – the abandoned pioneer dwelling poem – for which Bond Head had already cleared the site and into which numerous Canadian poets, good and bad, would soon begin to cram their most sentimental and often kitschy feelings.

    One of the earliest and best poets to do so was Archibald Lampman in two lyrics written in 1893, the year in which the Columbian Exhibition at Chicago gave the world not only the White City that he eulogized in “To Chicago” (see Chapter 7: Northern Reflections), but also the much publicized Hunter’s Cabin designed by William Holabird (1854-1923) and Martin Roche (1855-1927).7 (That Holabird and Roche were pioneers of skyscraper architecture is one of many indications of the role of urban intensification in the conceptualization and development of the wilderness as a countervailing place in the late nineteenth century.) The earlier of Lampman’s two poems, “The Settler’s Tale,” is put into the mouth of a pioneer who recalls in some detail how, with his own hands, he “built … a hut by a northern lake”: “The logs I measured and hauled and hewed…. I raised and mortised them close and well, / … I finished the roof…. I carved and fitted it fair within” (“Twenty-five Fugitive Poems” 60). With his hut completed, he fetches his bride and they live happily for a year until tragedy strikes, first with her death during childbirth and then with the death of their infant daughter. Driven to despair, he loses his will to live and is saved from suicide by an Indian. Nursed back to physical health by his savior’s “wild-wood wisdom and rugged care,” he remains psychologically damaged (“My joy went forth … my heart is dead”) and makes no further mention of his abandoned homestead. The later and less melodramatic of the Lampman’s poems, “The Woodcutter’s Hut,” stands squarely in the tradition of the Romantic solitary that Thoreau enacted at Walden Pond,8 but the seasonal rhythm that it describes is decidedly northern: an “animal of a man in his warmth and vigour, sound and hard, and complete,” its woodcutter divides his time between the hut in the mountains where he lives in the winter while logging and the farm, where during the remainder of the year, he “handle[s] … plough and … harrow, and scythe” (Poems 249). The sight of his hut when it lies empty in the summer prompts thoughts akin to Bond Head’s meditations on “deserted log huts”:

So lonely and silent it is, so withered and warped with the sun and snow,
You would think it the fruit of some dead man’s toil a hundred years ago;
And he who finds it suddenly there, as he wanders far and alone,
Is touched with a sweet and beautiful sense of something tender and gone,
The sense of a struggling life in the waste, and the mark of a soul’s command,
The going and coming of vanished feet, the touch of a human hand. 
(Poems 250)

By endowing the woodcutter’s hut with a false history, Lampman (or his speaker) is able to experience emotions and envision a scenario that is necessarily inauthentic. This would be unremarkable if it were not an instance of the susceptibility of log cabins once mythologised to become receptacles for sentimentality and fantasy as well as cues for historical retrospection and meditation.

    Even after Modernism had driven the spikes of irony and realism into the perceived excesses of Romantic sensibility, the abandoned pioneer dwelling genre continued to thrive. Indeed, it expanded to embrace other rural buildings such as barns, silos, grain elevators, and country churches in almost every region of Canada, from the Nova Scotia of Alden Nowlan (1933-1983), whose “Abandoned House” (1970) finds the odd glass of old windows turning the colours of “sunset … lonesome / and strangely cold” (35), to the British Columbia of Frances McLean (1921- ), whose “A Sod Roofed Cabin” (1966) includes such mawkish forays into bathos as “Long since chilled, are the busy hands / That scrubbed, sewed and baked a pie” (np). Such poems as “Cottage” Skydeck [1971] 23) by Stuart Mackinnon, “Log House” (Fathers and Heroes [1982] 48-49) by Brian Mackinnon (1945- ), “Someone Lived Here” (Tough Roots [1987] 59-60) by Jean McCallion and “Homelite XL130” (Sanding Down This Rocking Chair on a Windy Night [1987] 57) would be indicative of Scottish domination of the core component of the genre if it were not for contributions by Tom Howe (1952) (“Prosser’s House,” Myself in the Rain [1979] 52-53), Blaine Marchand (1949- ) (“Insect,” After the Fact [1979] 11), and several others. As geographically widespread and varied in the degrees to which they attempt to tug at heart strings are McCallion’s “Deserted Country Church” (1987) (21), Stuart Mackinnon’s “Windmill” (The Lost Surveyor [1976] 23-24), and the abandoned mill, silo, and greenhouse poems of Valeria Malcolm Baker (“The Old Mill,” Canadian Heritage [1967]) 18), Nancy Pearce Maki (1940- ) (“At the Backhouse Mill,” This County Norfolk [1972] 17), James Deboer (1941-1976) (“Sunset,” Strings of Memory [1977] 45), and Terrence Heath (1936- ) (“The Chinaman,” The Truth and Other Stories [1972] 12-13). Some of these poems and poems like them contain fresh and striking images such as McKay’s “antique cottages … crouch[ing] defensively / as though expecting hard core porn” (57), and the “dangling … jointed legs” of wasps flying from their “mud nests” of an “old barn” (26-27) in “Barn Poems” (1972) by David Helwig (1938- ), but more often than not they fail to rise above the level typified by Deboer’s

… o’er the hoary hills
The silent silos of the land
Protrude mysteriously, huge monuments,
Gothic-like, memories of ancestors
And shades of barns scattered about
Whipped by winds and storms of ruthless time,
Hollow, barren, lifeless
Like huge hulks of battered freighters
Swept ashore, too old for battle,
Retired like ancient shrivelled men
Too old for service but not for pain.

Perhaps Deboer deliberately chose archaic language as the appropriate medium for his subject, but other aspects of the passage such as clumsy alliteration, clumps of stale adjectives, and the suggestion that “freighters” are war ships scarcely support this charitable construal.9

    Although abandoned dwellings have been a staple component of writing with a rural or semi-rural setting since before Confederation, they appear less frequently in works whose setting is urban, the obvious reason being that in towns and cities unoccupied houses tend either to be demolished or adapted to be new uses (as was the case, for example, with Emily Carr’s house in Victoria).10 Probably because the transformation of “old houses” into, say, “dentists’ offices or dress-making establishments” (Atwood, The Edible Woman [1969] 78) does little to fire the imagination, adaptive re-use seldom figures in Canadian writing.11 House demolitions fare little better, but do sometimes prompt elegiac thoughts about the degradation of the built environment and the destruction of history. “There were a few older houses, but they were quickly being torn down by developers,” observes the narrator of Margaret Atwood’s “Polarities” (1977); “soon the city would have no visible past at all” (Dancing Girls and Other Stories 47). When he discovers that Chorley Park, a fictitious “Loire valley chateau, built of the finest Credit Valley limestone that supposedly had served as the residence of the Ontario “lieutenant-governor” has been demolished, the protagonist of Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces (1996) laments that it was “as though an eraser had rubbed out its place against the sky” (106-07). (As a Jewish writer whose fiction and poetry is profoundly concerned with the Holocaust, Michaels [1958- ] is, of course, acutely aware of the dangers of “eras[ing]” the past.) To Eirin Mouré in “empire, york street” (1979), the sight of a man with “survey equipment” contemplating a “condemned” house that is not “ancestral” but merely the occupant of “a city block” that is his “empire” and the site of his future “condominiums” conjures up dark thoughts of the “history of empires” and various forms of imperialistic exploitation (Empire, York Street 89). The demolition of an old house can be an occasion for regret and a cause for concern about the obliteration of the past, but the demolition of an old house to make space for the construction of a new building compounds the matter, especially if the new building is associated with capitalism and the writer is a socialist. In Canadian literature, condominium and apartment buildings come second only to office and bank towers as the most despised of architectural structures.12

    In stark contrast is the affection heaped on Victorian and Edwardian houses as the dilapidated but enduring residues of pre-Modern times that are conceived as less American and more foundationally British Canadian. Architexts containing pre-Victorian houses with these and similar implications can be found (the “vast rambling white colonial [house] … built … in 1760” [8] in Tolerable Levels of Violence [1983] by Robert G. Collins [1926- ] is a sterling case in point), but, like the houses that they evoke, they are rare and limited to central and eastern Canadian settings.13 As rare even in very recent writing as objects of attention let alone generators of memory are houses built after the First World War – the “‘shabby Insulbrick bungalows’” (3) in which Matt Cohen (1942- ) locates part of a short story in Getting Lucky (2000), the “war-time homes”14 that Joan Crate (1953- ) likens to “a row of identical ageing midgets dressed in different clothes” (1)15 in Breathing Water (1989), and the “beige and uninteresting house” laden with “all the bone-cracking clichés of Sixties architecture” that Carol Shields (1935-2003) describes as “a shell to live in without thought” (13-14) in Small Ceremonies (1976).16 Vastly more congenial and therefore common are houses with the “gable[s] … steep roof-edges” and “walls / Dripping lengths of scarlet creepers” that Lampman imagined as the home of “Love” in “The Old House” (1900), a superb poem that has been almost entirely ignored, probably because its utterly Victorian theme and architecture were not congenial to the Modernist critics and anthologists such as A.J.M. Smith who shaped still-prevailing conceptions of his work.17

    Depending on their state of preservation, the Victorian houses of post-Victorian Canadian writing suggest either social and economic decline or the appeal and persistence of the achievements and values of their era. In Atwood’s fictional world, for example, there are “picturesque red Victorian houses” (Bodily Harm [1981] 18) and “pointy-roofed twin houses” with “mouldering wooden scroll work around the porches” (Cat’s Eye 294), there is a “red brick house with a front porch that has two thick white pillars holding it up” (52) and there is a house with a “Gothic tower” and a verandah that has “begun to sag” (The Blind Assassin [2000] 58). Indeed, an entire “neighbourhood” of “old two-storey red brick” houses with “front porches” look “squalid and sagging in Lady Oracle (1976) and in Life Before Man (1979) one of the characters, Lesje, is reminded of her “grandmother’s house” by seeing street after Toronto street of “crumbling insulbrick siding, sagging porches, old houses skewed and crowded” (268). In “Surviving the Blast” (1988) by the Nova Scotia writer Lesley Choyce (1951- ), “a three story Victorian house probably owned by a sea captain is “now a pastiche of cracked windows,” “curling” paint, and “sagging and rotted wood gutters and drains” that its landlord admires for surviving the Halifax explosion (Coming up for Air 66) but in “The White Ash” (1983) by the Ontario poet N. Roy Clifton (1909- ) a “massy red” “three-storey house” on an “elm-tenanted street” in Toronto “Shed[s] Victorian calm” on everyone living in it (66). “Squirrels in the House” (1989) by another Ontario writer, Bruce Reynolds (1955- ), is a refreshingly amusing poem about the nightmare of a “Solid-brick,” “three-storey Victorian” house having its roof torn off in a gale as a result of the “gnawings through the faciaboard[s]” of a pair of black squirrels” (73).

    Unfortunately but predictably the extensive corpus of Canadian writing on Victorian houses also includes works of startling banality such as Marshall’s “Victoria Park” (1994), where “You look and / eyelike dark windows / of old brick / row-houses look / back at you” (Some Impossible Heaven of the Senses 50) and “Open House” (1992) by David Donnell (1939), which reads in part:

            A leaded window pane, a semi-Gothic
brick arch around a doorway.
                                                   Victorian gable, chipped green,
deep flat cement window sills. They represent an infinity
spectrum. The cement porch where a painter was murdered
in 1926, the year that Hemingway published
The Sun Also Rises.
I am quite young, but some of these houses go back
to the 1860s, approximately the period of the Civil War.

Later in the piece, when Donnell states that he has “given … [his] whole life, okay, a big piece, / to the contemplation of certain images” and asks “where / does that leave me?” the reader can readily think of several answers, none quite so unexpected as Donnell’s own: “With a large & very specialized / vocabulary. I have 47 different words for darkness / including scuro, as in rosso scuro, a deep red” (66).

    No Canadian poet has meditated at greater length on the appearance and significance of a Victorian house than the Hamilton-born writer Philip Child (1898-1978). First published in Toronto in 1951 and twice prescribed as a text for students in Ontario’s since-abolished Grade 13 (Bieman 13), Child’s The Victorian House is described on its dust-jacket as “the poet’s in memoriam to an age that is past and gone” (qtd. in Bieman 16). A Prefatory Note by Child himself guardedly concedes the element of personal reminiscence in the poem: “[t]he characters and episodes of The Victorian House are invented, not reported from recollection. It is true, however, that the convention of poetry requires an author to dip his pen in the blood of at least one or two slain reticences and to reveal more of himself than, in the prose of life, he would ordinarily disclose (np). As Child’s note intimates, a recurring theme of The Victorian House is the contrast between poetry and prose. Set against the poetic that Child gives to the narrator, his mother, his father, and a dying friend who possesses a saintly quality of “whole-ness” (30) is the prosaic way of talking and thinking that characterizes the poem’s other principal character, a real-estate developer called “Mr. Hammer” whose “mathematical” interest in the house that he plans to destroy (2,36) makes him a typical representative of materialistic capitalism – one of the “robot-men with mechanistic souls” who recognize “no thing but things” and assess the past only in terms of its commercial potential. (For Lampman’s vision of the productions and consequences of this mentality in “The City of the End of Things,” see Chapter 7: Northern Reflections.) “Who built this house? And what’s its history?” Mr. Hammer asks between recording its total number of rooms and explaining his crass reason for wanting to know: “In my prospectus of a lot of this size / I always write a note on former owners; / Folks like to think that a lot they buy was owned / By solid people and has its little story” (2). While the narrator makes his way through the house that his father built in 1888 (2), recalling as he goes the personal and historical associations of the various rooms (“I sometimes think the walls remember” [5]), Mr. Hammer keeps up a running commentary on the house’s deficiencies that prepares the ground for his final financial offer:

                                                             “I’ll give
You Fifteen Thousand for the house and grounds.
The house has got too old; I’ll have to tear
It down, of course. But I can use some bricks
And some of the trim, perhaps, to build a new one.”18

Anyone who has disposed of their parents’ home with the help of a callous real-estate agent will be especially inclined to dislike Mr. Hammer, even to wish him ill in his cannibalistic project.

    But this would be a simplistic response, for as Desmond Pacey and others have recognized (see Pacey, Creative Writing in Canada 214-17, Bieman, and Duffy “MEMORY = PAIN”), Child was a Christian-Humanist who believed that divine and human love and forgiveness should and do extend to all human beings, including Judas and his heirs. “Christ has gone down to search the earth / Where Judas’ bones lie low” begins the final stanza of the last poem in The Victorian House, and Other Poems, and in the penultimate section of The Victorian House itself the narrator affirms that Christ “summoned Judas” as well as “Peter and John to enter” the “Kingdom of Heaven … and bade us all / Whose homes must be a strew of bricks some day, / To come from this our otherness to it” (36). The mercenary nemesis of a narrator who feels that he is being betrayed and crucified (“My Hammer has come back to nail me down” [20]), Mr. Hammer is also “on his way … / To the Kingdom of Heaven” (36), a fellow pilgrim who must be forgiven and loved by anyone who would truly imitate Christ. That is why, at the end of the poem, the narrator, though deeply saddened by the loss of his family house and earthly “home,” does not condemn Mr. Hammer but, rather, leaves open the possibility that his “new house” will be a manifestation of spiritual renewal – a “new architecture” that incorporates elements of the old house, but nevertheless represents “a change of heart” (Auden 7). It is also why the narrator describes the “limbs” of an old (and Edenic) “apple tree” that he played on as a child as being “stripped for [their] winter sleep” (1,36): whether it reawakens in spring, as the narrator’s trope implies that it will, or yields to the axe, as Mr. Hammer’s plans suggest,19 the apple tree must pass like everything else in the Christian narrative through death to rebirth or resurrection. By the conclusion of The Victorian House an older Canadian house and garden and a poignant instance of the displacement of the Victorian by the Modern have been assimilated to a typological scheme that points to the redemption of the fallen world.

    Rarely have writers been as capable as Child of absorbing the destruction of an old house, let alone a family home and “memory-house,” into a romance narrative. In the opening paragraphs of this chapter, a crisis of belief in progress or, as Andreas Huyssen puts it, a rejection of the “celebration of the new as utopian” that “marked the age of modernity” (6), was counted among the factors that contributed to the “memoryboom” of the decades preceding the Millenium. As a contrast to The Victorian House and as the conclusion to this portion of the chapter, here are some stanzas from “Architect Examining an Old House,” a poem in The End of the Age (2000) by the Toronto writer A.F. Moritz (1947- ) that put the contrast between a Victorian house and its postmodern surroundings at the service of a meditation on what has befallen the great Enlightenment ideals from which modernity flowed in these diminished, self-satisfied, and “unpropitious times.” The modified Sapplic form of the poem’s stanzas is nicely evocative of the classical roots of Western civilization without being merely imitative, as is the case with the postmodern buildings that the architect deplores.

It was a powerful dream – that there’s one spirit,
always the same spirit finding its way
to lands, times, persons. And its aftermath
            is what descends to us here,

Is what we have, a hovel we inherit:
dull and shrouded, but in it something wants
to fall at times like rusty water, startling
            the lover of desolation

who in its long- abandoned cellar touches
the corroded, now porous, poisonous lead pipes.
Not yet torn down, forgotten somehow, its grey
            façade of the last century

stands, a shadow, between clear glass and chrome
developments – behind the doming and arching
of reminiscent designs, unprecedented,
            that suddenly came to us

as we trailed after the modern, wanting to be
more modern. Yet to this dwarfed house those towers
are as erotes to telamones20 in naked
            power displayed: they lounge

in mere distance, delighting themselves, leaning
on columns that once a great form of their own
bodies in bare strength bore up, crushed and stronger
            for a passion of enduring.


The poem concludes that “in the dust-bronze light of an old mirror” it is “Hard … to … forget that an end has come” (30). Several years into the new century it is also hard not to hope that fresh starts are possible.

Real Houses/Imaginary Characters

“Isn’t it strange how this castle changes as soon as one imagines that Hamlet lived here?” wrote Neils Bohr to Werner Heisenberg of Kronberg Castle in Sweden in June 1924: “[s]uddenly the walls and ramparts speak a different language. The courtyard becomes an entire world, a dark corner reminds us of the darkness of the human soul, we hear Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’” (qtd. in Bruner 45). A more compelling testament to the power of a text to change the perception of a building can scarcely be imagined. Yet W.H. Auden disagreed. “[P]oetry makes nothing happen,” he wrote in “In Memory of W.B. Yeats” as the Second World War loomed: “it survives / In the valley of its saying where executives / Would never want to tamper …” (53). Few, if any, of the architexts so far examined have affected perceptions of Canadian buildings as powerfully as Hamlet affected Bohr’s perception of Kronberg Castle and certainly none could be marshalled to disprove Yeat’s conviction that poems lack instrumentality or agency. Nevertheless, there are texts that have the power to change the way their readers perceive a particular Canadian building and there are texts that have made things happen in this country. The knowledge that it was the childhood home of Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922) and the inspiration for “the ‘Plummer Place’” (14) in The Imperialist (1904) must cast the Thorpe Brothers Funeral Home at 96, West Street in Brantford, Ontario in a new light that, among other things, enlivens its designation as a “home.” Three major developments in the Maritime provinces are the direct result of literary works: the “Land of Anne” on Prince Edward Island, Le Pays de la Sagouine in New Brunswick, and Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia.

    Under the fictional name of Elgin, Brantford is represented by Duncan in enough detail in The Imperialist to become a circumambient environment whose components are readily visualized and remembered by the reader and, hence, readily available to make the building at 96 West Street “speak … a different language.” Generally known in Elgin by the name of the immigrant from England who built it some twenty-five years earlier, “the Plummer Place” is home in the novel’s present day (circa. 1902-03) to Mr. and Mrs. John Murchison, more recent immigrants from Scotland whose six children include Lorne, “the imperialist” of the title. Situated in “an unfashionable outskirt” of the town, it is nevertheless “a respectable place” for a hardware-store owner and his family to live; indeed, its “ornamental grounds,” physical fabric, and, especially, its large coach barn require more money and manpower than the Murchisons can provide: “a fountain ... with a plaster Triton” in the “middle of the lawn” is “difficult to keep looking respectable,” “the cornice ... in the library” is but one of a number of things that continually need attention, and “the barn [is] ... outside the radius of possible amelioration” and “pass[ing] gradually, visibly, into decrepitude” (14, 22, 23). To Haliburton all this would have been dismaying evidence of the decay in Canada of the English upper-class traditions that the house embodies, but to Mrs. Murchison, who shares her husband’s middle-class liberal values, it is a regrettable but necessary result of the family’s financial situation that is consistent, moreover, with the value of Elgin – which is to say, English-Canadian – society. She “often wishe[s] [that] she could afford to pull … down” the coach barn, not just to remove a useless eyesore, but also because, like most people in Elgin, she recognizes the incongruity between the class-system represented by “the Plummer Place” and the more democratic values of early twentieth century Canada:

The house was admired – without enthusiasm – but it was not copied. It was felt to be outside the general need, misjudged, adventitious; and it wore its superiority in the popular view like a folly. It was in Elgin, but not of it; it represented a different tradition; and Elgin made the same allowance for its bedroom bells and its old-fashioned dignities as was conceded to its original master’s habit of a six o’clock dinner, with wine. (23-24)

Whether or not this passage was based on actual responses to Duncan’s childhood home will probably never be known, but the house is certainly capable of generating the sorts of attitudes described: less insistently evocative of Tuscan villas than Bellevue (see Chapter 7: Northern Reflections), its Italianate form and substantial dimensions – its low-hipped roof, its scroll-bracketed eaves, its arcaded verandah, and accentuated portico – speak loudly of Old World tradition, solidity, formality, and elegance.

    What Mrs. Murchison does find attractive about “the Plummer Place” is “the large ideas upon which it ... [was] built and designed” (23). As Duncan prepares to register the impact of the house on John Murchison, she places it in relation to the social strata and eclectic tastes that are evident elsewhere in Elgin’s built environment:

The architectural expression of the town was on a different scale, beginning with ‘frame,’ rising through the semi-detached, culminating expensively in Mansard roofs, cupolas and modern conveniences, and blossoming, in extreme instances, into Moorish fretwork and silk portières for interior decoration.21 The Murchison house gained by force of contrast: one felt, stepping into it, under influences of less expediency and more dignity, wider scope and more leisured intention; its shabby spaces had a redundancy the pleasanter and its yellow plaster cornices a charm the greater for the numerous close-set examples of contemporary taste in red brick22 which made, surrounded by geranium beds, so creditable an appearance in the West Ward. John Murchison in taking possession of the house had felt in it these satisfactions, … the more perhaps because he brought to them a capacity for feeling the worthier things of life which circumstances [in a northern Scottish town] had not previously developed. (24)

The architectural forms, interior decorations, and floral adornments of the other houses in Elgin betoken the conventionality, fashion consciousness, and constricted lives and minds of most of the town’s residents. In contrast, “the Plummer Place”/“Murchison house” was conceived and built, Mrs. Murchison imagines, by “a person of large ideas,” and its effect on her husband is expansive and inspiring: he takes “acute pleasure … [from] seeing the big horse-chestnuts in flower”; he derives continual satisfaction from feeling the “weight” of the hall door; and he resolves to “supplement the idiosyncracies” of the house by filling the bookcase in its “library” with “English classics” (22, 24).

    The house also has a positive effect on the Murchison children, especially Lorne and his older sister Advena, for it stimulates their imagination and thus strengthens the faculty that will enable them to see beyond the horizons of Elgin and, indeed, Canada:

… the place … was pure joy to the young Murchisons. It offered a margin and a mystery to life. They saw it far larger than it was: they invested it, arguing purely by its difference from other habitations, with a romantic past. “I guess when the Prince of Wales came to Elgin, mother, he stayed here,” Lorne remarked as a little boy. Secretly he and Advena took up boards in more than one unused room, and rapped on more than one thick wall to find a hollow chamber; the house revealed so much that was interesting, it was apparent to the meanest understanding that it must hide even more. It was never half lighted, and there was a passage in which fear dwelt – wild were the gallopades from attic to cellar in the early nightfall, when every young Murchison tore after every other, possessed, like cats, by a demoniac ecstasy of the gloaming. And the garden, with the autumn moon coming over the apple trees and the neglected asparagus thick for ambush … – these were joys of the very fibre, things to push ideas and envisage life with an attraction that made it worthwhile to grow up. (25-26)

“[I]f I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house,” writes Gaston Bachelard as he embarks on his phenomenological “topoanalysis” of the house and its components in The Poetics of Space, “I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace…. If it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams” (6, 8). There can be little doubt that Duncan’s lengthy description of the responses of the Murchison children to the house and garden of “the Plummer Place” contains elements of memory and daydream (reverie) or that she would have accepted Bachelard’s claim that the house occupies a central place in “the metaphysics of consciousness” and the “phenomenology of the imagination” (7, 17). In the Duncan house at 96, West Street in Brantford lay seeds of “the Plummer Place” in The Imperialist and in “the Plummer Place” the seeds of Lorne’s capacity to envisage imperial unity and Advena’s willingness to become the wife of a missionary in White Water, Alberta (258).23 In both instances lies the fundamental truth that to imagine a house is always in some sense to (re-)create it and, for better or worse, to change a part of the world from what it is or was to what it might be or could become.

    The architectural form as well as the geographical location that Duncan gives to “the Plummer Place” are further indications of its rôle as an encouragement to ideas and vision. “[A] dignified old affair, built of wood and painted white,”24 it has “wide green verandahs compassing … [its] four sides” (22) that allow the Murchisons and their children to look east (towards Britain), south (towards the United States), and north and west (towards the sites of Canada’s burgeoning prosperity such as Alberta).25 Situated in the West Ward (and thus oriented towards Canada and the future) and, more precisely, where “the plank sidewalk finishe[s]” and the “wheatfields” begin, it occupies a liminal – and therefore creative – position “betwixt and between” different realms, a site of “possibility” where cultural gives can be “deconstruct[ed]” and “reconstructed” into new units and combinations (Victor Turner 159-60). That the house is indeed such a site of creative destruction is abundantly evident, not least in the “frayed air of exile from some garden some garden sloping to the sea” exuded by the “plaster Triton” on the lawn and by the Murchison’s early attempts to find a practical use for the horse barn: “at one time [they] kept a cow in [it], till a succession of ‘girls’ left on account of the milking, and the lane was useful as an approach to the back yard by the teams that brought the cordwood in the winter” (22-23). (Perhaps the “cornstacks … [that] camp … around [the house] like a besieging army” in the “autumn” [22] are to be read as figures for the forces in the Canadian environment that militate against the persistence without adaptation of upper-class British traditions in North America.) When Duncan’s narrator later discloses that she has “embarked ... upon an analysis of the social principles in Elgin” the “clue or two more” that she “leave[s] … for the use of the curious” confirm that “the Plummer Place” is paradigmatic of British Canadian society:

No doubt [Elgin’s social] rules had their nucleus in the half-dozen families, among whom we may count the shadowy Plummers, who took upon themselves, … by the King’s pleasure, the administration of justice, the practice of medicine and of the law, and the performance of the charges of the Church of England a long time ago. Such persons would bring their lines of [class] demarcation with them, and in their new milieu of backwoods settlers and small traders would find no difficulty in drawing them again. But it was a very long time ago. The little knot of gentry-folk soon found the limitations of their new conditions…. They took, perforce, to the ways of the country…. Trade flourished, education improved, politics changed…. The original dignified group broke, dissolved, scattered…. It was a sorry tale of disintegration with a cheerful sequel of rebuilding,26 leading to a little unavoidable confusion as the edifice went up. Any process of blending implies confusion to begin with; we are here at the making of a nation. (40-41)

With “wheatfields ... billow[ing] up to its fences” in the summer (22), “the Plummer Place”/ “Murchison house” is Duncan’s architectural microcosm of the edifice of British North America/Canada. “Building and thinking are, each in its own way, inescapable for dwelling,” writes Heidegger, but they are also “insufficient for dwelling so long as each busies itself with its own affairs in separation instead of listening to one another” (Poetry, Language, Thought 160-61). In The Imperialist, as will be seen again in the next chapter, “building and thinking” most definitely listen to each other and “belong to dwelling.”

    Four years after the appearance of The Imperialist in book form in 1904, the novel that has done more than any other to change a portion of Canada was published in New York. Anne of Green Gables (1908) by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) contains an interlocked trio of elements whose impact on the perception, landscape, economy and “image” (not to say “brand”) of its setting was to prove immense: Anne herself, the red-haired orphan whose power to transform people as well as landscapes in and through her imagination prefigures the effect of the numerous novels in which she would eventually appear; the landscape and seascape of the area around Cavendish, which figures in the novel as Avonlea; and Green Gables, the house of Anne’s adoptive parents Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, which Montgomery based on the house of David and Margaret Macneill, who were cousins of her grandfather. (Montgomery herself was doubtless a visitor to the house, but she never lived there; rather, she lived and wrote Anne of Green Gables in the home of her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Macneill.) As indicated by the opening description of it, Green Gables is as inseparable from its environs as it becomes for its imaginative young occupant:

the big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde’s Hollow…. Matthew Cuthbert’s father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built on the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. (3-4)

Located at a point of balance between the human and the natural realms on the “edge” of a field and the forest, Green Gables recalls “the Plummer Place” in its liminality, but with some important differences: whereas the Murchison’s house is a part of the built environment that is undergoing a process of “disintegration” and “rebuilding” in response to its Canadian circumstances, the Cuthberts’ house is apart from the built environment and represents the persistence across generations of a bucolic – indeed, pastoral – harmony between human beings and the natural world that will prove utterly congenial to Anne’s post-Romantic sensibility. Not only are its gables green, but the east window of its kitchen, “whence you g[e]t a glimpse of the bloom white cherry-trees in the left orchard and nodding, slender birches down in the hollow by the brook, [is] greened over by a tangle of vines” (4-5).

    Encouraged by the appearance between 1909 and 1920 of several sequels to Anne of Green Gables as well as a movie of the novel (1919), tourists eager to visit the house and landscape in which it is set were already visiting Prince Edward Island in considerable numbers in the nineteen twenties, but the transformation of the novel’s settings into tourist sites did not begin in earnest until the mid-’thirties. Perhaps inspired by the thriving tourist industry that had been developed in late nineteenth-century Nova Scotia around Longfellow’s Evangeline: a Tale of Acadie (1847) and, to a lesser extent, Haliburton’s Sam Slick, the federal government began to expropriate the seashore east and west of Cavendish for the Prince Edward Island National Park, which is configured so as to embrace the town and include the David and Margaret Macneill house. This too was acquired by the federal government and, in a curious (even uncanny) mixture of authenticity and inauthenticity, equipped with green gables, an Edwardian girl’s bedroom, and other period accoutrements as an appropriate physical dwelling for Montgomery’s fictional character so that it became a there (or here) inhabited by the materialized spectre whose presence (presumably) can be felt by visitors.27 Present-day Green Gables is thus a building that inspired an architext and was in turn inspired by that architext; a house in which a fictional character lives spectrally at the centre of a landscape organized by a fiction but no less real for that. As employees of Parks Canada have been known to observe wryly, it is “the house in which the girl who never lived never lived” (qtd. in Struzik 3). By 1973 when Green Gables was opened to the public, there had been two more Anne movies (1934, 1941) and Anne of Green Gables: the Musical (1965 and almost every summer thereafter). Further encouraged by the alluring 1985 television series directed by Kevin Sullivan and starring the brilliantly chosen Megan Follows, the transformation of north-central P.E.I. into an Anne of Green Gables theme park was virtually complete: the saddle of the Island is now known as the “Land of Anne” or “Anne’s Land” and, much to the horror of many tourists and residents, now contains everything for the Anne fan from “The Enchanted Castle” in “The Enchanted Lands” and “Avonlea, Village of Anne of Green Gables” to “The Anne of Green Gables Store” and “Anne’s Tea Party.” “This area needs no introduction,” reads the Prince Edward Island Handbook for tourists (2000 edition); “it is the region that has made P.E.I. famous around the world through Lucy Maud Montgomery’s feisty fictional character, Anne of Green Gables … plan to stay for a while” (50).28 In part a consequence of the tourist industry in which Anne of Green Gables looms so large, the construction of the 12.9- kilometre Confederation Bridge (1993-97) between the Island and New Brunswick can only add further impetus to the Annification of a province in which tourism comes second only to agriculture in economic importance. Indeed, in 2002 the P.E.I. Department of Tourism revealed that “visits to the island … [were] up 60% since the … Bridge opened in 1997 and that 40% of the visitors sa[id] they came because of Anne” (Gates).

    Although the creation of a representational space on the basis of what happened there to a fictional character rather than a real person is not unknown in other countries (221b Baker Street quickly comes to mind), it is relatively unusual and appears all the more freakish in light of the fact that the actual house in which Montgomery lived and wrote in Cavendish is a subterranean ruin that attracts only a small fraction of the touristic interest generated by Green Gables. A pilgrimage to the ruin is worthwhile for at least two reasons, however: like a journey to Saint-Marie among the Hurons as described by E.J. Pratt (1883-1964), it brings the visitor to “the exact spot where [Montgomery] wrote and read” and may engender “an emotional experience … akin to the feeling which a parent would receive standing near the soil under which a child had been buried” (E.J. Pratt 121); and for those who have had this experience of its “affective kernel or centre,” it deepens the realization that the treatment of Montgomery’s fiction as if it were reality – indeed, the embodiment of it in material forms – constitutes a gross violation of the Victorian principles whereby the excesses of fancy to which Anne is given are methodically chastened by experience until her Romanticism is aligned with a mature sense of duty and responsibility. Perhaps an even stronger sense of presence and infidelity may result from a visit to Montgomery’s grave in a small cemetery adjacent to the Royal Atlantic Wax Museum, which contains “109 life-size wax figures” of movie stars, British royals, American presidents, and the like (Prince Edward Island Handbook 58). Little wonder that Cynthia Brouse has invoked Jean Baudrillard’s McLuhenesque concept of the “simulacrum” (36) – the likeness that becomes more real than the thing it purports to represent – in relation to all but a few elements of “The Land of Anne.”

    But why, it may be asked, has “Anne” of all literary characters become the centrepiece of the largest assemblage of simulacra in Canada? Why was she rather than Montgomery herself chosen as a primary means of attracting tourists to Prince Edward Island? The very obvious answer – that a widely known and loved character has eclipsed her relatively colourless creator – should not be allowed to obscure other factors, including the preference in popular culture for easily identifiable (and thus marketable) characters and images over the writers and texts from which they spring, and the absence in Prince Edward Island of appealing (and again marketable) alternatives in such realms as history, folklore, and archaeology. No doubt, similar factors lay behind the constitution of Evangeline and Sam Slick as real figures in late nineteenth-century Nova Scotia, the result being a continuity of incarnating the literary imaginary in the Maritime provinces that, once recognized, can be seen to include two other examples: that of La Sagouine, the literary character created by Antonine Maillet (1929- ) in her 1974 novel of the same title, who now has her “House of her Dreams” in a mock village that was created around her in the early ’nineties on an island in New Brunswick’s Bouctouche River and that of The Lone Shieling, a Scottish cattle or sheep herder’s summer hut that was built in Cape Breton, not as a home for a fictional character, but to give physical form to three words in a stanza of a poem whose author is unknown.

    To accomplish the translation of visitors from reality into myth (and thus “the transformation of myth into reality” [Kapelos 56]) at Le Pays de la Sagouine (1991), the Acadian architect Élide Albert29 divided the forty-acre site of the theme park into two separate and distinct precincts. The first of these is an aggregation of buildings on the shore of the river that offers arriving and departing visitors the opportunity to climb an observation tower, eat at a restaurant, visit an interpretation centre, and, of course, shop. The second, on an island in the river named L’Île-aux-Puces, consists of buildings constructed of traditional Acadian materials and in traditional Canadian forms that answer to the buildings mentioned and described in La Sagouine. Connecting the shore to the island is the park’s equivalent of the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz: a long, winding, wooden bridge that takes the visitors’ eyes and feet on a path whose serpentine curves reinforce a sense of journey from terra firma and the mundane present to a picturesque setting and fictional past. The fact that the village on L’Île-aux-Puces is built on low pilings to accommodate the tidal and seasonal variations of the river further enhances the visitors’ sense of a journey back in time and into a realm of “fiction-made-real,” as did the presence until recently of Viola Léger, the Acadian actress whose stage performances gave Maillet’s character a “real” face (Kapelos 56). Just as the mechanisms of modern life are kept as remote as possible from the core buildings of Upper Canada Village (see Chapter 11: Moving House(s)), the evidences of electrical and other services to L’Île-aux-Puces are hidden beneath the decking of the serpentine bridge. In Anne of Green Gables, a “log bridge over … a brook” takes the novel’s too-imaginative heroine to a realm “where perpetual twilight reigned under the straight, thick-growing firs and spruces” and “[g]ossamers glimmer … like threads of silver … and the fir boughs and tassels seem … to utter friendly speech” (67). In Le Pays de la Sagouine, visitors travel into Acadian fiction and folklore on a bridge that is actual as well as wooden, but in both cases bridges fulfil one of their traditional functions by carrying their users across borders into different but mutually dependent states of consciousness.

    The poem whose three words provided the inspiration for The Lone Shieling in Cape Breton is the “Canadian Boat-Song,” which was first published anonymously in the “Noctes Ambrosianae” section of Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh) in September 1829 and has since generated more scholarly discussion than any other poem written in or about Canada.30 One reason for this is that the poem’s anonymity has prompted numerous authors to suggest and defend candidates for its authorship, a roster that includes John Galt and William “Tiger” Dunlop. The other is its second stanza, four lines whose poignant expression of “the regret of the immigrant at the loss of his familiar home” (R.E. Rashley 4) have led to its inclusion as an independent poem in numerous novels and anthologies such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Silverado Squatters (1883) and Field Marshall, Lord Wavell’s Other Men’s Flowers (1945). Spoken as if by the collective voice of an exiled community, the “Lone Shieling” stanza of the “Canadian Boat-Song” speaks of enormous physical barriers transcended by feelings and imaginings whose origins lie deep in the identity of Scottish exiles and emigrants:

From the lone shieling of the misty island
    Mountains divide us, and the waste of seas –
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
    And we in dreams behold the Hebrides . . . .
(qtd. in Bentley, “‘The Canadian Boat-Song’” 69)

Whatever its authorship, this stanza makes masterful use of rhythm, diction, and imagery to reinforce its themes and moods. Particularly notable is the shift from somewhat irregular rhythms that accompany the expression of division in the opening two lines and the more regular rhythms in which the transcendence of division is expressed in the lines beginning with “Yet.” So, too, are the evocative vagueness of “the misty islands,” the desolate expansiveness of “the waste of seas,” and the confident affirmation of “the heart is Highland.” And, of course, at the imagistic focal point of the poem is the affective and, for many readers, mysterious figure of “the lone shieling.”

    Although “The Lone Shieling” stanza must have had its effect on men and women of numerous national and ethnic groups it has inevitably exerted an especially powerful influence on people of Scottish extraction, one of whom initiated the architectural project that Ian McKay has described as the “oddest event” in the construction of Nova Scotia as an essentially Scottish province in the years surrounding the Second World War (“Tartanism Triumphant” 34), namely, the construction of the Lone Shieling that now stands beside the Cabot Trail in northern Cape Breton. As McKay records in “Tartanism Triumphant: the Construction of Scottishness in Nova Scotia, 1933-1954,” the project was instigated in 1934 by a bequest to the Crown of a hundred acres by a former Dalhousie University professor named Donald S. MacIntosh, who requested in his will “‘that the government of [Nova Scotia] maintain a small park [on the property] ... and ... build there a small Cabin which will be constructed in the same design or plan as the lone shieling on the Island of Skye, Scotland’” (33). (The echo in MacIntosh’s request of W.B. Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” [“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, / And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made” (44)] is but one indication of its participation in the pastoral yearnings of antimodernism.)31 Because the premier of Nova Scotia at that time was Angus L. Macdonald, a Liberal with a conservative bias and a regional vision who, in McKay’s neo-Marxian (Foucauldian, Gramscian) terms saw “pre-Capitalist Highland culture” as a bulwark against modernity, MacIntosh’s bequest was accepted by the Province and used to strengthen the case for the establishment in 1937 of the park whose very name – Cape Breton Highlands National Park – attests to the “naturalization” of Macdonald’s belief in Nova Scotia’s “inherently Scottish” identity (“Tartanism Triumphant” 34). The fact that Macdonald had earlier alluded to “The Lone Shieling” stanza in a speech at the “Memorial to the late Bishop MacEachern of Prince Edward Island, 1929”32 makes his enthusiasm of MacIntosh’s bequest especially understandable. A bronze plaque carrying details of the bequest and an unlineated version of “The Lone Shieling” stanza was unveiled in Cape Breton in 1947 by Fiona McLeod of McLeod (see McKay, “Tartanism Triumphant” 34).

    McKay’s research into “the Construction of Scottishness in Nova Scotia” is brilliantly illuminating, but not everyone will agree that the project that helped to establish a large national park on Cape Breton, to secure a lasting source of tourist revenue for Nova Scotia, and to enhance the economic prospects and local pride of many Maritimers (and, indeed, Canadians) was quite as sinister and risible as he suggests.33 (The “tartanization” of Scotland itself has been similarly ridiculed and denounced by critics of the Left, but it, too, has had many positive effects.) It is true that the Lone Shieling that stands in Cape Breton Highlands National Park is inauthentic (“Tartanism Triumphant” 33), but, as argued elsewhere, this does not prevent it from having educational value or serving as a reminder of past events and past conceptions between Canada and Britain.34 Moreover, it joins Green Gables and Le Pays de la Sagouine as an extraordinary instance of the imaginary realized in such a way as to create a “representational space” and a visitable space – indeed, to “found … and … join … spaces” and to make “the slovenly wilderness / Surround” the place on which it stands.




  1. “The house works / between two windows onto night, / one facing the hidden river / one the black garden,” writes Kenneth McRobbie (1929- ) in “The Great Transformation” (1979); “Both windows exist / for the sake of the room … one accepts garden / one limits the sky …” (41-42). [back]
  2. For responses to the Brock Monument, see Chapter 8: Viewing Platforms. For responses to other monuments and historic sites, see Alfred G. Bailey (1905-97), “Quebec Citadel, 1914” in The Sun the Wind the Summer Field (1996), 66-67; Judy McGillivary, “Quebec City” in Time Lines (1979), 36; Leslie Choyce (1951- ), “Lost Creek” (Halifax Citadel) in The End of Ice (1985), 35 and “Allen Ginsberg on the Citadel: Halifax, 1936” in Beautiful Sadness (1999), 51-52; Cyril Dabydeen (1945- ) “Halifax” (Citadel) in Coastland: New and Selected Poems: 1973-1987 (1989), 51; George Amabile (1936- ), “Relics of Power / (Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, N.S.)” in Ideas of Shelter (1981), 79; Bert Almon (1943- ), “Slower Traffic Keep Right” (Fort MacLeod, Edmonton) in Deep North (1984), 66 and – for a tour of the museums and historic sites of New Brunswick in what purports to be poetry – The Fiddlehead Republic (1979) by Nicholas Catanoy. See also “Monumental Tensions: the Commemoration of British Political and Military Heroes in Canada” in Bentley, Mnemographia Canadensis 1: 24-45. [back]
  3. “Moore’s visit was long remembered in Niagara,” William Kirby (1817-1906) would recall in 1897; “a year or two before his assassination [in 1868],” “Thomas D’Arcy McGee … made a pilgrimage to ‘Moore’s Oak’ while he was here” (Annals of Niagara 128-29). [back]
  4. Today Prescott is known for two historic buildings: the stone windmill (1822) (now lighthouse) near which the battle that carries its name was fought during the Rebellions of 1837-38 and the Wellington Blockhouse (1838-39). [back]
  5. The advertisement for the “Land of Evangeline” route of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway from which these quotations are taken appears in Charles G.D. Roberts’s The Canadian Guide-Book. The Tourist’s and Sportsman’s Guide to Eastern Canada and Newfoundland (1891). See also my “Charles G.D. Roberts and William Wilfred Campbell as Canadian Tour Guides” 85-86. [back]
  6. For the rise of the log house to iconic status in American (and, subsequently, Canadian) culture, see Harold R. Shurtleff, The Log Cabin Myth. [back]
  7. See Christine Macy and Sarah Bonnemaison, Architecture and Nature: Creating the American Landscape 40-45 for the impact and significance of the Hunter’s Cabin. [back]
  8. First published over three years after “The Woodcutter’s Hut” and perhaps written under the influence of Lampman’s poem, “The Solitary Woodsman” (1897) by Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943) focuses more on the woodsman than on his hut, which is nevertheless described as a structure with a “lonely door” and “rough log walls” that are as integrated as he is into the natural world”

    … about his sober footsteps
    Unafraid the squirrels play.

    On his roof the red leaf falls,
    At his door the bluejay calls,
        And he hears the wood-mice hurry
    Up and down his rough log walls

    ·              ·             ·

    And the wind about his eaves
    Through the chilly night-wet grieves,
    And the earth’s dumb patience fills him,
    Fellow to the falling leaves

      (Collected Poems 230)

    In contrast to “The Woodcutter’s Hut,” which bears the stamp of Lampman’s socialism in its emphasis on the woodcutter’s actual work, “The Solitary Woodsman” glosses over that aspect of the woodsman’s life (“All day long he wanders wide / With the grey moss for his guide, / And his lonely axe-stroke startles / The expectant forest-side”) to present him less as a manual labourer than as a naturalist in the tradition of John Burroughs, Bradford Torrey, and other American writers of the day (“And he hears the partridge drumming, / The belated hornet humming, / All the faint, prophetic sounds / That foretell the winter’s coming”). It is probably not fortuitous that the solitary woodsman’s dwelling is twice referred to as a “camp,” a word that by the end of the nineteenth century was widely used to refer to vacation cottages and compounds as well as to the quarters of soldiers, lumbermen, and other semi-nomadic groups (see Kaiser). In The Heart of the Ancient Wood (1900), Roberts makes extensive use of the log cabin as a retreat from society, and log cabins appear in several other works of fiction that he wrote around the turn of the century. In large part because she spent a good deal of time during her childhood in cabins in Northern Ontario (her father was an entomologist), Margaret Atwood makes heavy use of cabins in her fiction; see, for example, Surfacing (1972), where a cabin figures as part of the imposed order that, following R.D. Laing and others (see Bentley, The Gay] Grey Moose 26-27, Atwood maintains must be broken down to achieve a psychic breakthrough, and such short stories as “Hurricane Hazel” and “Betty” in Bluebeard’s Egg (1983) (31-59 and 111-32, particularly 31 and 112) and the more obviously semi-autobiographical Cat’s Eye (1988) (23). Cabins, camps, and cottages appear in the work of numerous other Canadian writers, especially those from Quebec, British Columbia, and, above all, Ontario, where such structures are more numerous and sometimes date from relatively early times (see, for example, the “104-year-old / Square-nailed cabin” [51] of “Chalk River Chalk Talk”[1983] by the Montreal poet Raymond Filip [1950- ] and the “faded cedar cottage, which in age seemed to grow like an old tree clinging directly to the rock of the Shield” [7] of The Cutting Season [1984] by the British Columbian novelist Margaret Clarke [1941-]). [back]

  9. After Walter Herbert eulogized them as “fortresses of peace, storehouses of plenty, [and] essential links in a chain of peaceful trade and commerce” (241-42) in “Castles of the New World” (1933), grain elevators began to become Canadian “lieux de mémoire” (sites of memory) that serve, like the federal Parliament Buildings, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Group of Seven, and other entities to reinforce a sense of national and/or local identity (see Pierre Nora and my Mnemographia Canadensis 1:xxi n9). That both nationally and regionally they are at least as replete with nostalgia as with grain is indicated by the very titles of two recent books of photographs: Wheat Kings: Vanishing Landmarks of the Canadian Prairies (1998) by Greg McDonnell (1954- ) and Gone but Not Forgotten: Tales of Disappearing Grain Elevators (2004) by Elizabeth McLachlan (1957- ). For a fine account of the history and significance of grain elevators, see Jonathan Vance’s Building Canada: People and Projects that Shaped the Nation 226-49. See also Chapter 10: “New Styles of Architecture, a Change of Heart”? for a discussion of A.M. Klein’s “Grain Elevator.”[back]
  10. After being sold by the painter and her sister in the late nineteen thirties it was divided into apartments and remained so until 1964 when a local group began the process that led to its becoming a museum. See Douglas Featherling, “Writing Homes” 20-21. Featherling’s article also includes brief accounts of the fate of houses inhabited by other writers such as Margaret Laurence and Robert Service. [back]
  11. See also Cat’s Eye 364, where a house has been transformed into an antique store. Home renovation (see Bluebeard’s Egg 215) and gentrification through the use of white paint on trim (see The Edible Woman 46) also reflects Atwood’s preoccupation with the changing city of Toronto. In Headhunter (1993), Timothy Findley (1930-2002) has a character “regret … the loss of beloved landmarks and people – the parks as they had been – the façades of houses now ‘improved’ – the Rosedale Public Library [in Toronto], gone entirely …” (15) and in The Stone Diaries (1993) by Carol Shields, a character toys with house renovations as a metaphor for change in marriage (see 33-34 and 39-40). [back]
  12. “Afterword: West Street” (1980) by the Kingston poet and critic Tom Marshall (1938-93) celebrates the “high sweet” and “owl”-like song of the “Limestone and brickwork” of an apartment building (84) and, of course, there are many works in which apartments and even condominiums host positive characters and events, but the edifices themselves are almost invariably treated negatively. In “Listening In” (1980) by Terence Byrnes (1948- ), the protagonist is informed that a new apartment building in Montreal is a “‘high-rise colony’” (53); in “A Loose Grey” (1984) by James Deahl (1945- ) “lakeside apartments / for the wealthy” of Toronto are built by “Italian and Canadians” who “dare gravity / and the wind / for housing they, and their children / are unlikely to enjoy” (No Cold Ash 32); and in innumerable other works apartment and condominium buildings are objects of disgust, loathing, and even fear (see, for example, “Anatomy of an Apartment House” [1969] by Rose Rosberg, the “metal balconies on concrete” [146] of “Death of a Friend” [1978] by Matt Cohen [1942-99], “Among White Buildings” (1981) in Black Orchid by A.F. Moritz (1947- ), and the “Queens Apartments” and “Midtown Mansions” of, respectively, “Born to Lose” [1989] by Trevor Clark [1955- ] and “Gift Wrapped” [1992] by Austin Clarke [1943- ]). In Writing with Our Feet (1990) by Dave Carley (1955- ), a female character, Lucy Cormier, describes an aspect of many larger apartment blocks that is disconcerting to a great many men as well as most women: “[t]here’s a vast parking garage under my building – it terrifies me. When I go down to my car I whistle a tune, not to sound bold, but because I figure there’s a one-in-a-million chance I’ll be whistling the song that’s special to my killer” (45). See Richard Dennis “Interpreting the Apartment House: Modernity and Metropolitanism in Toronto, 1900-1930” for a discussion of the ways in which responses to apartment houses in the early decades of the twentieth century were inflected by assumptions about class and gender (they were “banned from middle-class areas” and resisted on the grounds that they would expose women to such evils as “indolence and gossip”), and for the “apartment house … [as] a key icon of modernity … a ‘machine for living’[Le Corbusier’s phrase]” (318, 305). [back]
  13. “My mother’s family lived in a large white house near an apple orchard, in Nova Scotia,” recalls the speaker of Atwood’s “Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother.” “There was a barn and a carriage-house; in the kitchen there was a pantry…. Parts of it were closed off, or so it seemed; there were back staircases. Passages led everywhere…. The structure of the house was hierarchical, with my grandfather at the top, but its secret life [that is, its domestic life] … was female” (Bluebeard’s Egg 13). [back]
  14. See L.J. Evenden’s “Wartime Housing as Cultural Landscape: National Creation and Personal Creativity” for the argument that by “authorizing the building of dwellings, literally one by one across the face of the land [during the Second World War], the governance put into place the elements of shelter that collectively would form not only distinctive housing, but also a distinctive residential landscape,” with the result that “[t]he wartime house” – usually a “Cape Cod design, in side-gabled single storey and one-and-a-half storey versions” – “became ‘… almost as identifiable to Canadians as the grain elevator’” (41-42, 43, quoting Jill Wade). In Breathing Water the inhabitants of war-time houses have exercised “personal creativity” by either painting them “coral, turquoise, and pale yellow” or “encas[ing] them in corsets of stained cedar and aluminium siding. Only a few remain in their original dowdy stucco” (1). [back]
  15. In Cat’s Eye, Elaine/Atwood says of “the cottagy houses” of British Columbia that they “look as if they were built by the Seven Dwarfs in the thirties” (14). Later Elaine/Atwood describes the house in Toronto to which her family moved in the nineteen forties as “a bungalow built of yellow brick” and, because, it was in a new development like that of Antanas Sileika’s Buying on Time; (see Chapter 2: Logs to Riches), “surrounded by raw mud” (32). In Atwood’s Dancing Girls and Other Stories (1977), the protagonist of “Polarities” finds the “greyish gravel” “stucco” of “the featureless two-story boxes thrown up after the war when there was a housing boom and materials were scarce” “spiritually depleting” (47). If there is a most despised house form in Canadian writing, it is almost certainly the bungalow. [back]
  16. “[T]here is a family room, a dining ell, a utility room, a master bedroom with bath en suite. A Spanish step-saving kitchen with pass-through, colonial door, attached garage, sliding patio window, split-level grace, spacious garden…. Curtains join rugs, rugs join furniture…. Utilitarian at the comfort level, there is nothing unexpected” (13-14). [back]
  17. Lampman’s poem owes a great deal to the William Morris of News from Nowhere and follows Morris and numerous other writers in using the cycle of the seasons as a structuring device, but it contains several touches that are very much his own, for example the “pencilled hills and slender pines” of the opening stanza, the “too great sun [that] forgets his power” in the summer stanza, and the “Long icicles” that “droop and curl” (a wonderfully peruse observation) in the winter stanza (Poems 322-24). [back]
  18. See Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory 123-31 for a discussion of the vernacular and local associations of brick as opposed to the Modern and international associations of glass and concrete. As Samuel points out, the smooth and often pastel-coloured bricks of houses built in the nineteen sixties and later are “double-cod[ed]” (Charles Jencks’ term) in the sense that even as they attempt to evoke the past and the local they suggest the international and, indeed, the multi-national. [back]
  19. “‘The apple tree would have to go, of course’,” he proclaims, “‘But a lot of oaks could stay. I want the place / To be select’” (6). Mr. Hammer also wants to change the name of the house from “Oakwood” to “Hammer Park” for suggestive and commercial as well as egotistical reasons: “‘Park is good. It makes you think of trees, / And city folk like a tree or two by the house’” (6) (and see “Historied Trees” in Mnemographia Canadensis 1:403-30). [back]
  20. That is, questions that suggest opposition and pillars in the form of carved male figures. [back]
  21. The OED defines, “portière” as “[a] curtain hung over a door or doorway, to prevent draught, to serve as a screen, or for ornament.” [back]
  22. As Thomas E. Tausky notes, when The Imperialist was serialized in The Queen (London, England) in 1903 the “bricks” were not “red” but “white” (322), white being the tern for the yellow clay bricks that are common in southwestern Ontario. [back]
  23. “The Murchisons were all imaginative” declares the narrator in the opening chapter of the novel, adding later that “[i]magination ... is a quality dispensed with of necessity in the practice of most professions, being that of which nature is, for some reason, most niggardly” (10, 82, and see 109, 124, 135, 147, 188-89, and 216). [back]
  24. There are, of course, the colours of the houses favoured by Loyalists in John MacTaggart’s taxonomy (see Chapter 4: Rising and Spreading Villages), but there is no indication that the Plummers were other than what they are several times implied to be: emigrants who came directly to Canada from Britain. Duncan also observes of “the Plummer Place” that its spacious wooden verandahs reflect a time in which “the builder had only to turn his hand to the forest” for materials (22). [back]
  25. A study of the metaphysical geography of The Imperialist remains to be written, but would be supported by a large amount of evidence in the novel, including the locations of houses and characters in various wards and, as will be seen in Chapter 6: The Centre in the Square, by Duncan’s description of Elgin’s town square. As indicated by her later depiction of Lorne “on the top of an omnibus lumbering west out of Trafalgar Square” in London, England (114; emphasis added), Duncan’s metaphysical geography at times makes itself apparent even in her choice of verbs. [back]
  26. See my “Breaking the ‘Cake of Custom’: the Atlantic Crossing as a Rubicon for Female Emigrants to Canada” for a discussion of the transformative effect of trans-marine migration. [back]
  27. In “Anne of Red Hair: What Do the Japanese See in Anne of Green Gables?” Calvin Trillin writes that “[t]he houses visited by Anne fans look pretty much the way they did when … Montgomery was visiting them, and they look like the houses down the road. All this may make it somewhat less likely that someone who is shown ‘Matthew’s room’ at one of the Anne sights will respond by saying, ‘Matthew was imaginary. He didn’t have a room’” (217-18). “The fact that … Montgomery is sometimes difficult to distinguish from her heroine adds to the commingling of fiction and reality which is part of celebrating Anne of Prince Edward Island,” he adds, “so that being married in the parlour where Maud was married almost seems to put a couple into the book” (218). [back]
  28. See Carole Gerson, “‘Dragging at Anne’s Chariot Wheels’: the Triangle of Author, Publisher, and Fictional Character” 50-52 for a well-nuanced account of the economics of the Anne phenomenon. Trillin observes that in a survey taken by a Japanese travel magazine in 1992 “Prince Edward Island ranked with New York, Paris, and London as a place that the Japanese most wanted to visit” (217). See also Yoshiko Akamatsu, “Japanese Readings of Anne of Green Gables” for an analysis of Anne’s status in Japanese popular culture. [back]
  29. In “Le Pays de la Sagouine,” Bernard Poirier provides a succinct account of the genesis and components of the theme park, concluding that New Brunswick now has its equivalent of Anne of Green Gables as a legendary character and tourist attraction. See also International Contract Magazine, “First Nations Design and the Quiet Revolution,” July 1993, for a discussion of the work of the project’s architect, Élide Albert, as a manifestation of Native sensibilities. [back]
  30. For a sampling and bibliography of this discussion, as well as a reprinting of the portion of “Noctes” in which the poem appeared, see my “‘The Canadian-Boat’: a Mosaic.” [back]
  31. See also McKay’s The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism in and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia where “Tartanism Triumphant” is incorporated into a discussion of the larger cultural phenomenon of which the construction of the Lone Shieling was a part. [back]
  32. “We spring from the same soil, you [the residents of Prince Edward Island] and I ... we honour the same heroes, we venerate the same names.... The call of the blood is strong and our hearts are still Highland” (qtd. in McKay, “Tartanism Triumphant” 26). [back]
  33. “Over a million tourists were welcomed [to Nova Scotia] in 1980,” observes James H. Morrison in “American Tourism in Nova Scotia, 1871-1940,” and “tourism is now [in 1982] recognized as Nova Scotia’s leading resource industry. In a province of just over 800,000 people, tourism [in 1980] provided more than 24,000 jobs and contributed over $500 million annually to the provincial economy” (40). Many of those tourists were welcomed to Nova Scotia by bagpiper who was installed for that purpose as part of the “tartanization” of the province that McKay places on view (see “Tartanism Triumphant” 30). [back]
  34. See Mnemographia Canadensis 1: 262-63 for evidence of it serving these functions. [back]


Works Cited