Chapter 4
Rising and Spreading Villages: the Architexts of New Settlements

by D.M.R. Bentley


The most striking effect of the rapid increase of population in America is the rise and growth of towns and cities. At the head of a lake, or where a stream empties into one of those inland seas, and forms a natural harbour; or upon the bank of a navigable river which flows through a fertile country, a pioneer of the forest, or an adventurous speculator sets himself down, and says, that “here shall be a city.” If his judgment be good, and the country around his imaginary “Thebes or Athens” be inviting, the waves of population which perpetually flow westward, stop for a time at his “location,” and actually verify his dream. This is, literally, the history of the foundation of Chicago and Milwaukie in the United States, and of Brantford and London in Upper Canada; and of many other towns and cities in both countries.

J. Sheridan Hogan, Canada: An Essay: to Which Was Awarded the First Prize by the Paris Exhibition Committee of Canada (1855), 39.

It is impossible to view the progress our town is making, without an accompanying degree of admiration at its advancement in wealth and importance. The change as to appearance that has taken place in the town, within the last two years is, truly surprising. Had a traveller visited this place two years ago, he would have found scarcely a house of respectable appearance in the place; he would have found but one printing press. But now we see houses rising up every where – huge hotels – presses in abundance, literary and political – steamboats arriving thrice a week at our ports, and quite a place of business. The population in this time has more than doubled, and is still increasing rapidly, and our prospects for the future are, bright and cheerful.

– Hamilton Free Press, quoted in “A Canadian Settler, Late of Portsea, Hants,” The Emigrant’s Informant (1834), 81-82.

In the decades following the War of 1812, a number of factors, most prominently the strategic argument that a larger mass of loyal British subjects was needed to protect Canada from Americanization and the Malthusian proposition that Britain’s colonies should relieve the over-populated Mother Country of her “redundant” population, resulted in a massive influx of British immigrants to Canada. From 1812 to 1841, the population of Upper Canada alone increased from 75,000 (three-fifths of whom were Americans) to 455,000 (the majority of whom were Irish) (Landon 1, 46-61). Between 1824 and 1836, immigrants were arriving in Upper Canada at an average rate of 3,500 per year. In 1832 nearly 52,000 people arrived at the Port of Quebec alone and the population of Upper Canada grew by over 26,000.1 One result of this massive influx was the growth of numerous new settlements throughout Upper and Lower Canada as well as (though to a lesser extent) the Maritimes, and a concomitant increase in writing about how settlements begin and how they develop. With one notable exception – Quebec’s Old City (which was founded in 1608 and has “the character of a medieval organic growth town” [Hodge 41])2 – settlements in Canada during previous centuries had “adopted the patterns of fortified towns in Europe with a wall and citadel or main battery” and “Renaissance street patterns and public squares” (Hodge 35). Both Trois Rivières (1634) and Montréal (1634) were variations of this so-called “bastide model,” as were Halifax (1749), Charlottetown (1768), and Saint John (1783). But the majority of nineteenth-century new towns were agricultural rather than military centres. Where and how would these come into existence and in what stages and directions would they grow? These and similar questions have now been largely answered by A.E.J. Morris, J.M.S. Careless, Gerald Hodge, and other urban historians and theorists,3 but as immigrants flowed into Canada in the wake of the War of 1812 they were a source of considerable comment, speculation, and imaginative reflection and activity.

    Because of the enormous influence in Canada of his Travels through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (1799) the Irish writer Isaac Weld (1774-1856) probably played as large a part as anyone in shaping early Canadian conceptions of how and why towns grow. Repeatedly citing “advantageous” location with respect to “commerce,” “fertility of … soil” or both as the key to a town or city’s progress (see 1:49-89), Weld was especially impressed by Bath, which in 1796 when he visited it was “the principal town in the western parts of the state of New York”:

Though laid out only three years ago, yet it already contains about thirty houses, and is increasing very fast. Amongst the houses are several stores or shops well furnished with goods, and a tavern that would not be thought meanly of in any part of America. This town was founded by a gentleman who … has likewise been the founder of Williamsbury and Falkner’s Town; and indeed to his exertions, joined to those of a few other individuals, may be ascribed the improvement of the whole of this part of the country…. (2:333)

“Extensive saw and flour mills have already been erected upon a “considerable fall” in a creek below the town,” Weld continues, and, encouraged by the credit system operated by its founder, settlers are still “flocking” to the town (2:333-38). But all is not entirely well, for with the “granting of land on … very easy terms” come “speculators,” “idleness and dissipation” (3:335-36). Location and leadership have allowed Bath to develop rapidly from a few houses to a thriving town with stores, a tavern, and mills, but with development have come unsavoury characters and habits. If this was the pattern in the northern United States, then what was to be expected north of the border?

    “The usual progress of a Canadian village is this,” wrote Anna Jameson near Brantford, Upper Canada in June 1837,

first, on some running stream, the erection of a saw-mill (see also: i) and grist-mill (see also: i, ii, iii, iv, v) for the convenience of the neighbouring scattered settlers; then a few shanties or log-houses for the workpeople; then a grocery-store, then a tavern – a chapel – perchance a school-house – und so weiter, as the Germans say. (234-35)

“‘In the United States,’” she adds (quoting Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s Narrative Journal of Travels through the Northwestern Regions of the United States [1821]),

the first public edifice is a court-house; then a jail; then a school-house – perhaps an academy, where religious exercises may be occasionally held; but a house of public worship is the result of a more mature state of the settlement. If … we have sometimes been branded as litigious, it is not altogether without foundation; and … there is more likelihood of our obtaining the reputation of a learned than a pious people. (235n)

A similar extrapolation from Jameson’s narrative of the growth of a village suggests that Canadians are a people for whom religion (the “chapel”) and education (the “school-house”) are less of a priority than relaxation and sociability, not to say intoxication (the tavern). Her subsequent remarks on London suggests that she would not have disputed this inference:

The population may be about thirteen-hundred people…. There are five places of worship … three or four schools, and seven taverns…. There is, I fear, a good deal of drunkenness and profligacy; for although the people have work and wealth, they have neither education nor amusements. Besides the seven taverns, there is a number of little grocery stores, which are, in fact, drinking houses. (254-55)

As will be seen, Jameson was not alone in shaping a narrative of the growth a “‘planted town’” (A.E.J. Morris, qtd. in Hodge 29) in accordance with her observations and expectations of Canadian settlers. Evidently, the “jail and court-house, comprized in one stately edifice,” that was begun in 1828 and “seemed the glory of the towns-people” of London (Jameson 254) was as necessary as it was picturesque (see Chapter 3: Anna Jameson on the Thames, Upper Canada). That the decision to build a jail and court-house in London was made in 1826, a year before the “first house was erected” on the site (Jameson 254) testifies to the fact that the city “began as the administrative and legal centre of the … London District”4 rather than, as was the case with most new towns of the time, as the agricultural and then mercantile centre that Jameson describes in her charting of “[t]he usual progress of a Canadian village.”

    Probably no nineteenth-century observer of Canadian society made more of the primacy of the “saw-mill and grist-mill” in the development of Canadian towns and Canadian society than the Irish labour organizer Peter O’Leary. “SAW MILLS IN CANADA form industrial centres just as monasteries and castles did in the feudal ages,” he wrote in his Travels and Experiences in Canada, the Red River Territory and the United States (1877) – “and to a far better purpose, for the tendency is to raise the man and make him a responsible citizen, with rights and duties, and without obstacles to prevent him from rising in the social scale” (108). It is easy to dismiss O’Leary’s suggestion as forced, yet behind it lies the astute perception that a component of Canada’s built environment reflected the society’s potential to transcend its Old World roots and to solidify a social contract based, not on feudal and religious principles, but on a combination of upward mobility and social responsibility. The values that O’Leary locates in saw-mills are similiar to those that several decades later Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922) and Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) would celebrate and gently satirize in The Imperialist (1904) and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912), two works that reveal their origins in an increasingly urbanized Canada by depicting the small town less as an embodiment and icon of progress than as an object of nostalgia and a site of social cohesion and stability.    


A village has started up where formerly a thick pine-wood covered the ground; we have now within a short distance of us an excellent saw-mill, a grist-mill, and store, with a large tavern and many good dwellings. A fine timber bridge, on stone piers, was erected last year to connect the opposite townships and lessen the distance to and from Peterborough; and though it was unfortunately swept away early last spring by the unusual rising of the Onanabee lakes, a new and more substantial one has risen upon the ruins of the former, through the activity of an enterprising young Scotchman, the founder of the village.

Catharine Parr Traill, The Backwoods of Canada (1836), 209.

Twenty years before the appearance of Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, Adam Hood Burwell’s Talbot Road: A Poem (1818) had given readers of The Niagara Spectator an extended narrative of the development of an Upper Canadian settlement that includes initial stages that Jameson’s brief “progress” omits: the arrival of the first settlers, the building of the first shelter, the clearing of the forest, and the establishment of agriculture. Very likely written for the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of the Talbot Settlement in May 1803, Talbot Road announces its encomiastic purpose by focusing almost immediately on Colonel Thomas Talbot, who is envisaged as conceiving his “Great scheme” for the settlement of what is now southwestern Ontario in a “lone cabin … / … amidst a tow’ring wood” “On Erie’s bank” (19-24). (As Jameson later attests, Talbot would eventually move into a large log “house” on the same site, but was “naturally unwilling” to demolish the “log-hut” that he erected “for shelter when he first ‘sat down in the bush’” [281, and see Chapter 3: Anna Jameson on the Thames, Upper Canada].) After describing the successes of the first settler in the Kettle Creek area (“the forest [bowed] to his frequent stroke; – / There from his hearth ascended hallowed smoke” [119-20]), Burwell chronicles the subsequent influx of immigrants from Ireland (“ … soon … thronging bands of men appear’d / On Talbot Road … / All forward press’d the choicest seats to find” [159-61]). He then provides one of the most detailed accounts of the clearing of land and the construction of a log cabin in Canadian poetry, which ends with a vignette of a typical settler and his family “seated by the[ir] cabin door” revelling in the pleasure of “the[ir] new-found home” and hatching “New schemes for future happiness” that include clearing more land, building a barn, and planting an orchard (225-42, 279-316, and see Chapter 2: Logs to Riches). Providence is the settlers’ guide, but this does not excuse them from being provident, from organizing space for storage as well as provision.

    With the onset of the War of 1812 the progress of the settlement is interrupted, but when the war ends “The hopes of Talbot Road … r[i]se again,” more “eager bands” of settlers occupy what “vacant ground” remains, and a network of roads and towns emerges in accordance with the natural features of the land and the logistical requirements of the settlers:

    At Pointe aux Pins the shore a harbor forms,
To shelter shipping from the western storms….
·         ·         ·
Near this runs Talbot Road – some miles behind,
Say twelve, the Thames’ easy current winds,
Where Chatham lies: a settlement between,
Forming a cross-way, shortly will be seen,
Which will connect the River with the Bay,
Where nature has ordain’d a Town to lay.
Now to the North Branch of the Talbot Road,
A copious tide of Emigration flow’d; –
And by a compact settlement, we find
Westminister quickly to Port Talbot join’d.
(443-44, 447-56)

Surveying “The Talbot Road unbroken and complete” “as on a single sheet” in a lengthy ensuing verse paragraph, Burwell remarks particularly on “the fine thriving town of Mallahide, / In which … Catfish [Creek] has its eastern source,” the “beauteous plains, rich soil, [and] translucent rills” around Yarmouth, and the “Wellington mills, late built, on Catfish [Creek] …, / To answer agriculture’s loud demand; / A work substantial, such as should be found / Where a fine growing country spreads around” (496-505). “New urban communities appeared to serve emerging districts, while older ones grew larger,” observes Careless of early nineteenth-century Canada; “[t]hey might vary widely in size and character, from coastal [or lake] port to inland country town, but all were dealing with expanding local markets and commerce” (10,12).

    When Burwell turns in the concluding verse paragraphs of Talbot Road to “summon dark futurity to light” (546), he sees the Talbot Settlement as enjoying the full benefits of “Commerce, the first of friends to human kind” and the best (and most advanced) of the four stages into which Adam Smith and his followers divided the development of all societies in their progression from rudeness to refinement.5 In the future, the same “Commerce … That tames the hardy savage, rough and rude, / And forms society for mutual good” will bring ships “Freighted with wealth from India’s distant shores” to the safe ports of the Talbot Settlement and ensure that the “cabin[s] rude” of its early settlers are replaced by “stately mansion[s]” on “little Eden[s]” that are connected by tree-shaded roads to prosperous “urban communities”:

    Beneath the blessings of their native skies,
The Town, the Village shall be seen to rise;
The stately mansion, and the costly hall,
The labell’d office, neat, convenient, small,
The ample warehouse, and the clean fireside,
Where friendship, love, and harmony reside.
The bustling town, the morn shall usher in,
And close the evening with a constant din,
The din of business – Wealth already stands,
And drops profusion from his open hands.

Unlike those of Adam Smith’s followers who warned that societies at the commercial stage of social development are prone to moral disintegration and even regression,6 Burwell sees no such snake in Upper Canada’s future garden, though he does temper his concluding vision of “Talbot Road … / Rising transcendent in prosperity” with references to a watch-dog” and “man’s erring sight” and “devious will” (603-04, 633, 638-39). More than a match for these products of original sin, he implies, is a citizenry “Well known to prise and guard the good they have” and who are “Blest in a Government[,] the people’s choice, / Where reason speaks, and order lifts her voice,” guided in their moral choices by the “fair truth” provided by “science” (that is knowledge), and true to the precepts of the “meek Religion [that] in sweet accents calls / The pilgrim home to heavenly Zion’s halls” (553-56, 637-42).7 The “youths and maidens” on the “village green” of the future may occasionally be wounded by the “‘too envenom’d shafts of wit,’” but above them soars “the village spire” whose windows the “setting sun” “paint[s] with … hues of fire” (584, 597, 599-602).

    For the most part, the space of Talbot Road is horizontal – a linear movement from new town to new town along roads whose “Euclidian regularity” makes the narrator of Nino Ricci’s In a Glass House (1993) imagine that “some giant had … taken a great pencil and ruler in hand and divided the wilderness into a tidy grid” (2). But with “the village spire” it becomes emphatically vertical – becomes, in effect, the space into which, earlier in the poem, Burwell had imagined his Muse “aspir[ing]” with “an angel’s wing, a seraph’s fire” (531-32). Nor are these the only references to the vertical space of Christianity in the poem. When “hallowed smoke” rises from the “hearth” of Talbot Road’s first settler “Angels look … down, propitious from above, / And o’er his labors breath[e] … celestial love” and when the farmer of the future contemplates his “little Eden” it is from a “stately mansion” that “at once commands” “the surrounding fields” (121-22, 615-16). The implication of all these and several other passages in the poem is that the linear and horizontal acts of building roads, establishing farms, and writing poems in the Talbot Settlement are linked vertically to the Providential design – the metanarrative – of Christianity that was set in motion by God’s directive to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1. 28 (“Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it”) and will continue to unfold until the end of time and the establishment of the heavenly city prophesied in Revelation 14. Because the settlers of Talbot Road are fulfilling God’s plan, the smoke that rises from their “hearth[s]” will be “hallowed,” their farms will be types of “Eden,” and – to quote once again from Burwell’s map-like survey of the settlement – it will be “understood” that the towns that they create are “good” as well as “beautiful” (525-26). For a “Village … to rise” it must take shape vertically as well as horizontally, in accordance with “meek Religion” and as a result of arduous and prolonged labour. With his usual keen eye for architectural irony, Leacock has the rector of one of the two rival churches in the Plutoria of Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (1914) envisage its “tall spire pointing to the blue sky” as “a warning against the sins of a commercial age” and then promptly depicts the faces of its wealthy congregation as “stamped with contrition as they think of mergers that they should have made, and real estate that they failed to buy for lack of faith” (121). Burwell would have had no difficulty in recognizing that in their very tallness the buildings of Plutoria are evidence that its plutocrats have foresaken the only form of vertical growth that ultimately matters. Not surprisingly, the unification of Leacock’s two rival churches is conducted like a business merger, and one of the clergymen involved has no difficulty “‘reconciling St. Paul ... with Hegel’” – indeed, thinks that “‘They both mean the same’” (163).

    As it continues to grow horizontally and vertically in accordance with all that these directions imply, the Talbot Settlement will increasingly become a place whose physical amenities and simple virtues are an extension outwards and upwards of the home and, thus, an invitation to body and mind to be at home. Not only will “every farm” on the Settlement be a “little Eden” but the Settlement as a whole will be a dwelling, a place in which, in Heidegger’s terms, human beings may “dwell poetically” (Poetry, Language, Thought 213, and see 213-29):

Blest spot! sacred to pure, domestic joy,
Where love and duty find their sweet employ.
On either side the road a stately row
Of shady trees present a sylvan show,
Whose tops, wide arching, o’er the center meet,
And guard the passenger from noon-day heat.
Beneath them, nature’s rich, green velvet spread
In grassy carpets, or the tufted bed,
To the tir’d foot, a softer walk invites –
Or evening ramblers, innocent delights.
There children, sporting in the willowy shade,
Shall watch the changing forms by moonlight made
Thro’ waving branches….

Nature has become entirely domesticated and safe, an interior complete with “carpets” and “beds,” both to be experienced sensually yet innocently. Whether they are “passenger[s],” “rambler[s],” or “children,” the beings who are at home here are “pilgrim[s]” whose ultimate home lies above the “shady trees.”


Many of the same or similar assumptions lie at the heart of colonial Canada’s most accomplished treatment of the settlement theme: The Rising Village (1825, 1834) of Oliver Goldsmith (1794-1861). In part a response to The Deserted Village, his great-uncle and namesake’s profoundly moving depiction of the harsh consequences of the enclosures in eighteenth-century England and Ireland, Goldsmith’s poem is set in his native Acadia (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick)8 and may well have been inspired by a passage in A General Description of Nova Scotia (1823) in which Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-65) effectively identifies the intellectual and literary potential inherent in “[t]he origin and growth of a modern Colony” and “the sentiments of the … people … [who] first settled in the trackless forest of Nova Scotia” (163). “In my humble poem,” Goldsmith would later write, “I endeavoured to describe the sufferings [of the exiles of The Deserted Village] … in a new and uncultivated country, the Difficulties they surmounted, the rise and progress of a Village, and the prospects which promised Happiness to its future possessors” (Autobiography 42-43). The fact that the “prospects” to which Goldsmith refers are primarily agricultural suggest that, like his fellow Nova Scotia writer John Young (1773-1837) in The Letters of Agricola (1818-1821), he saw agricultural development as the key to Nova Scotia’s economic recovery in the wake of the decline in the shipbuilding industry that had followed the Napoleonic wars. Even as better agriculture would put Nova Scotia on the ladder to prosperity in accordance with the four stages theory it would hasten the province’s complete transition from rudeness to refinement.

    Early in the poem Goldsmith provides a conspectus of “the chaste and splendid … scenes that lie / Beneath the circle of Britannia’s sky”: “Cities … plains,” and “Majestic palaces” that proclaim the “wealth and splendour” of a country long established at the commercial stage of social development. In stark contrast stands the Acadia that confronted the first settlers from Britain: a “lone and drear” region of “woods and wilds” frequented by “wandering savages” – which is to say, nomadic hunter-gatherers who have scarcely developed beyond the level of the “beasts of prey” that also “Display … the fury of their sway” in the “deep solitudes” (27-33, 43-46, 61). Besides being attended by “great … danger” in the form of attacks from “savage tribes” that assert “Their right to rule the mountain and the plain,” the “lonely” settler’s “first rude culture of the soil” entails “a great deal of labour”: before “The golden corn triumphant waves its head” “where the forest once its foliage spread” that forest must be filled, burned, and the residue “collected into heaps, and reduced to ashes” (57-58, 71-72 and n.), a process that also establishes the settler’s rights in land on the Lockean principle that he has mixed his labour with it.9 “By patient firmness and industrious toil,” the settler eventually succeeds in “retain[ing] possession of the soil,” in extirpating all “bold aggressors” (both animal and human), and in creating conditions congenial to the development of a village: “Around his dwelling scattered huts extend, / Whilst every hut affords another friend” (103-107). “By slow degrees” these “huts” are replaced by “humble cottages” that form a “neighbourhood” whose “bounds” continue to “increase / In social life, prosperity, … peace,” and new economic and aesthetic “prospects” (124-29).

    Envisaging the expansion of the settlement geometrically as the progressive enlargement of a “circle” or “sphere” that occurs when “The arts of [agri-]culture extend their sway,” Goldsmith views the first of the “new objects” to appear – a “tavern” that advertises itself with a “rude sign or post” – as a positive addition to the community. True, “The passing stranger” may find his “repose” in the tavern marred by an “officious” and “inquisitive host,”10 but this is understandable in an isolated community starved of news of the outside world and it does not detract from the tavern’s value as a community centre where male settlers can enjoy well-earned “social pleasures” and the “lively joy” of sharing their memories of the early days of the settlement (131-64). An even more positive addition to the community is the next “object” that appears, a “village church” whose “turret,” “unadorned array,” and “neat white” walls (166-67, 463) are suggestive of what has been variously called the “Georgian Gothic Revival, Picturesque Gothic Revival, … Regency Gothic” and “Early Gothic Revival” style that was gaining in popularity in the Maritimes in the eighteen twenties (see Kalman 1:260-62). A centre for the entire community, who “old and young” attend its services in modest “homespun dress” to “waft their thanks to Heaven,” it is the architectural materialization of the villagers’ “heaven-born faith” in the “Great First Cause” that has sustained them in “the wild” and must continue to inform and guide their activities as “the Rising Village claims a name” and continues to attract new citizens (165-97).

    The next three “objects” and the arrivals associated with them – a “store” opened by a “wandering Pedlar,” a medical practice (no building is mentioned) started by a “half-bred Doctor,” and a “school-house” occupied by a “master … unequal to the task of educating and disciplining the village children (199-248) – provide reasons for increasing apprehension about the moral and social development of the community and, by extension, the province. Among the “useful” things on sale in the store are items such as “silks” and “shawls for young damsels” that suggest a departure from the virtues represented earlier by “homespun dress” (209-16). Embedded in the account of the doctor’s deadly activities is a reference to Paradise Lost (“’tis his envenomed dart / That strikes the suffering mortal to the heart” [227-28, and see Paradise Lost 2:543]) that parallels him to Satan in the Garden of Eden. Implicit in the description of the “school-house” as a “log-built shed” that “erects its head” (229-30) is a similar reference to Milton’s Satan (who approaches Eve “erect” and with “Head / ... aloft” in Paradise Lost 9:499-502) and an architectural suggestion that, if they are not regressing to an earlier stage of development, the villagers are not apportioning sufficient resources to their children’s education: capable though they are of financing and constructing a substantial church, they appear not to have a resident parson and are entrusting the village’s future to “some poor wanderer of the human race” (235) in a “shed.” (Goldsmith does not dignify the “school-house” with the word “edifice,” which, of course, comes from the same Latin root as “edify.”)

    Not surprisingly, the ensuing portion of the poem contains, first a dark warning that “vice” has entered the village “in thoughtless pleasure’s train” and is set to “invade” “some happy home …, / Some bashful lover, or some tender maid” (289-92) and then an interpolated tale that illustrates the appalling consequences of the failure to match the village’s material rise with the ability to check “Each rising impulse of the erring mind” (300). Wooed by an attractive but impetuous village swain whose “heart” only “seem[s] generous, noble, kind, and free,” the heroine of this tale is plunged into a “frenzy” by his announcement that he is leaving his “‘native plain” because of a “‘sudden … change of heart’” and, despite being rescued from a snow storm and nursed back to health by a kindly “peasant” and his wife, never regains her sanity and, thus, her marriagability (313, 385, 363, 366, 403). By naming his blighted maiden Flora after the Roman goddess of flowers and likening her to “[t]he May-flower … indigenous to the wilds of Acadia (316n), Goldsmith reinforces his point: unless Nova Scotia can properly educate and retain its young people it will not continue to grow either demographically or economically. Fortunately, “such tales of real woe” do not often “Degrade the land,” he subsequently asserts, and, in consequence, the village continues to “rise gently into day” amid “boundless prospects” that “Proclaim the country’s industry and pride”:

Here crops of grain in rich luxuriance rise,
And wave their golden riches to the skies;
There smiling orchards interrupt the scene,
Of gardens bounded by some fence of green;
The farmer’s cottage, bosomed ’mong trees,
Whose spreading branches shelter from the breeze;
The winding stream that turns the busy mill,
Whose clacking echoes o’er the distant hill.…

A mill is mentioned in this passage not because it has recently been built but because it is now “busy” processing the “rich luxuriance” and “golden riches” of “grain” that indicate that Nova Scotia’s agricultural economy has moved beyond the subsistence level and begun to propel the province into the commercial stage of development. Once “the poor peasant … / Scarce from the soil could wring his scanty fare,” but “Now in the peaceful arts of [agri-]culture skilled” he “Sees his wide barn with ample treasures filled” and “Commerce” as well as agriculture “extend[s]” its “power” over “Scotia’s fields” (511-20).

    Nor is the promise of increasing prosperity the only gift of “the peaceful arts of [agri-]culture” to Novascotians. In The Letters of Agricola, Young argues that only a landscape made picturesque by cultivation and productive of memory by experience is capable of inspiring the emotional attachments and imaginative responses that are requisite for poetry and patriotism. “The wilderness is a term of cheerless import, and involves whatever is repugnant to the human heart,” he writes; “[i]n Nova Scotia the emphatic and high-meaning words, ‘This is my dear, my native land,’ can never be uttered with appropriate glow and enthusiasm … [while it is] hidden under an uninteresting mantle of foliage. When the lineaments of the country have become distinct and visible, it will win our affections, and fix and consolidate our patriotism. Its rivers will be rendered sacred in song; its lakes will acquire interest from youthful and amorous adventures …” (403-04). Goldsmith may well have had this very passage in mind when, after perusing the “laboured verse [that tells] how youth and beauty fell” on the “rude cut stones or painted tablets” in the graveyard beside the village church, he interjects the poem’s most lyrical passage:

How sweet to hear the murmuring of the rill,
As down it gurgles from the distant hill;
The note of Whip-poor-Will how sweet to hear,
When sadly slow it breaks upon the ear,
And tells each night, to all the silent vale
The hopeless sorrows of its mournful tale.
Dear lovely spot! Oh may such charms as these,
Sweet tranquil charms, that cannot fail to please,
Forever reign around thee, and impart
Joy, peace, and comfort to each native heart.
(465-66, 473-84)

When the early settler saw “His home amid a wilderness of trees,” “his heart” sank, but now that the landscape contains “smiling orchards” and “farmer[s’] cottage[s]” as well as “wood-bound lake[s]” his heart would surely leap up: agriculture and architecture have transformed a “wilderness” of “cheerless import” into a landscape that inspires both lyrical poetry and patriotic feeling.

    Beyond being a fervent statement of local pride and attachment, the passages just discussed contain several features that indicate the emergence at this point in the poem (and at the advanced agricultural>commercial stage of Nova Scotia’s development) of a relationship between the “native heart” and its environment that is profoundly felt as well as complexly intellectualized. In the retrospective portions of the poem, the poet was relatively detached from the “objects” whose characteristics he selectively described to chart the rise and spread of the village, but now his responses to what he sees below and around him are intensely psycho-physiological. The phrase “how sweet” is repeated four times in the course of less than forty lines (443, 473, 475, 455) and is echoed in “How sweetly” several lines later (496). The deitic here/there directions in several lines reflect the picturesque quality of the landscape, proclaim the poet’s emplacement in it, and convey a sense of excited delight in its “boundless prospects” that suggests a correspondence between his physical elevation and his emotional elation. The closely observed and carefully rendered details of the “glassy stillness” of the “wood-bound lake” and the “sadly slow” song of the “Whip-poor-Will” bespeak an intensity of looking and listening that further reinforces the sense of the poet’s corporeality and emplacement in a cherished “spot.” Here, then, is “dwelling” in the full Heideggarian sense that includes cultivation and building, thinking and poetic creation (see Poetry, Language, Thought 145-61 and 213-29).


The Canada Company owns a great portion of this district; and nearly in the centre, is the township of Guelph; the Company’s property.
    The township contains upwards of 40,000 acres, on which the Company have built the town of Guelph, on a river called the Speed, a remote branch of the Ouse. This rapidly rising town, which was planned in the wilderness by Mr. Galt, was founded on St. George’s Day, 1827, already contains nearly 200 houses and 700, or 800 inhabitants, with a good market-house in the centre, several churches, schools, stores, and taverns: one very neat hotel, with an assembly room; a large grist-mill and saw-mill, and two distilleries.

– Hamilton Free Press, quoted in “A Canadian Settler, Late of Portsea, Hants,” The Emigrant’s Informant (1834), 82-83

The Engineering Architect behold[:]
See how he plans the villages and towns
o suit the various trafficking and trade....

John MacTaggart, “The Engineer” (nd), [69]

Between the publication of The Rising Village in London, England in 1825 and its re-publication in slightly revised form in The Rising Village, with Other Poems in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834,11 the population of the Maritime provinces continued to grow steadily but that of Upper Canada increased at an average of over 18,000 per year from 1828 to 1832 (see R.M. Martin 218). A major reason for this was the Canada Company, which was instigated in 1824 by the Scottish “author and colonizer” John Galt (1779-1839) and in 1826 acquired some two-and-a-half million acres in Upper Canada for the purposes of settlement (Roger Hall and Nick Whistler 337). To encourage immigration to the area of southwestern Ontario later known as the Huron Tract where a large proportion of its holdings lay, Galt established in 1827 two “planted towns,” Guelph and Goderich, the former in a symbolic ceremony that he would make famous in his Autobiography (1833) and, before that, in his two triple-decker novels of emigration and settlement, Lawrie Todd; or the Settlers in the Woods (1830) and Bogle Corbet; or, the Emigrants (1831).

    Determined to “invest” the founding of Guelph “with a little mystery, the better to make it remembered” (Autobiography 2:58), Galt chose April 23 as the day of the “ceremony” in order to align it with St. George’s Day12 and, very likely, with the dates of the birth and death of the writer whose work was regarded as the highest literary expression of the British spirit. (Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 and a combination of plausibility and patriotism has assigned his birth to the same day in 1564.) As A.E.L. Treleaven would later write of Galt’s choice of April 23 in Guelph’s 50th Anniversary. A Poem (1877):

… good King George, our patron saint,
    Made it famous in his day –
When chivalry and brave knighthood
    Held firm undisputed sway.

Great Shakspeare, the prince of poets,
    Entered this blooming world;
On that same day, in after years
    His life in death was furled.

Fortunately, Galt’s account of the events of April 23, 1827 is not marred by anything like the awkwardness and tautology of Treleaven’s lines on Shakespeare but embeds the momentous event that it describes in a narrative that is at once factual, eloquent, and a testament to the truth of Joseph Rykwert’s statement in The Idea of a Town that “[t]he rite of the founding of a town touches on ... religious experiences” (90).

    “About sunset,” Galt recalls, a group consisting of himself “the requisite woodmen,” Charles Prior (the superintendent of the Canada Company) and William “Tiger” Dunlop (another official of the Company and later the author of Statistical Sketches of Upper Canada, for the Use of Emigrants [1832]) (56),

… walked to the brow of … [a] rising ground, and Mr. Prior having shewn the site selected for the town, a large maple tree was chosen; on which, taking an axe from one of the woodmen, I struck the first stroke. To me at least the moment was impressive, – and the silence of the woods, that echoed to the sound, was as the sigh of the solemn genius of the wilderness departing for ever.13
    The doctor [Dunlop] followed me, then, if I recollect correctly, Mr. Prior, and the woodmen finished the work. The tree fell with a crash of accumulating thunder, as if ancient Nature were alarmed at the entrance of social man into her innocent solitudes with his sorrows, his follies, and his crimes.
    I do not suppose that the sublimity of the occasion was unfelt by the others, for I noticed that after the tree fell, there was a funereal pause, as when the coffin is lowered into the grave; it was, however, of short duration, for the doctor pulled a flask of whisky from his bosom, and we drank prosperity to the City of Guelph.
    The name was chosen to compliment the royal family, both because I thought it auspicious in itself, and because I could not recollect that it had ever been before used in all the king’s dominions. (2:58-59)

The “site selected” for Guelph is prey to the destruction of Nature that necessarily precedes the construction of buildings. The occasion is sublime because it is simultaneously a moment of death and birth: the “echo” of Galt’s axe blow suggests the regret of the departing spirit of the place (genius loci); the “crash” of the falling tree suggests a loss of female innocence and solitariness to masculine wickedness and gregariousness; the “pause” and toast after the felling suggest the finality of a burial followed by a celebration of the future; and, finally, the choice of a name associated with royal family (who were descended from the Guelfs) but not previously used for a city is both a bow to convention and tradition and an affirmation of newness and originality. Bitter as well as sweet though it is, Galt’s expression of the preliminary stage in the construction of a village is coloured overall with much the same optimism as Talbot Road and The Rising Village. It also suggests that as much as Goldsmith and perhaps more than Burwell he conceived of the Canadian wilderness as a site for the insertion not just of the spatial forms of settlement, but also of poetic associations and meanings – as a space available for writing as well as dwelling.

    When Galt proceeds in ensuing paragraphs to enumerate the “advantages” of Guelph’s situation and to sketch his plans for the “city,” his account becomes almost Heideggarian in its insistence on “location” as a relationship to other places and as a “mak[ing] room” (Raum) for “dwelling” (see Poetry, Language, Thought 151-57). As envisaged by Galt, Guelph is not merely “situated on a tongue of land surrounded by a clear and rapid stream,” but “almost at the centre of the table-land, which separates four of the great lakes, namely, Ontario, Simcoe [!], Huron, and Erie” (2:60). Moreover, it is connected by way of the Speed, Eramosa, and Grand rivers (the last of which was believed to be “navigable [after] … the bridge of Galt”) to Lake Erie and, thence, via the Welland, Rideau, and Lachine canal systems to the Atlantic Ocean, an “advantage … which few inland towns in the whole world can boast at such great distance from the sea” (2:60). Like the “bridge” in Heidegger’s “Building Dwelling Thinking” Guelph founds a “location” that “join[s] … spaces” and “places” “variously near and far” (Poetry, Language, Thought 158, 155). As such, it also “make[s] room,” “allows a space into which earth and heaven, divinities and mortals are admitted” (Poetry, Language, Thought 155). “In planning the city,” Galt explains, he wished to ensure that “the magnitude of its parts” would be sufficient for “futurity”:

A beautiful central hill was reserved for the Catholics, in compliment to my friend, Bishop Macdonell, for his advice in the formation of the [Canada] Company; the centre of a rising ground, destined to be hereafter a square, was appropriated to the Episcopal church for Archdeacon Strachan; and another rising ground was reserved for the Presbyterians. The Catholic church is building, also the Presbyterian, and I believe the foundations of the Episcopalian are laid. (2:60-61)

From this and the foregoing descriptions as well as from Galt’s engraved “Plan of the Town of Guelf,” which prominently features a large, triangle-shaped “Market Ground” with a centrally placed Market House,14 it is apparent that, like Burwell and Goldsmith, he saw religion, agriculture, and commerce as essential to the development of his village.

    Nevertheless, when Galt initially conceived of Guelph he envisaged it as including “a central office for the [Canada] Company” and recognized that “a tavern and hotel were indispensable” (2:54-55). Self-deprecatingly admitting that he possessed “a kind of amateur taste in architectural drawing” and a belief that “the constructing of a city afforded an opportunity to edify posterity in this matter,” he drew a “problematic design of the office” and a “very classical” drawing of a tavern that embodied the principle that “the style of a building should always indicate and be appropriate to its purpose” (2:55). When the drawing of the tavern and the concept of “fitness” were given to “a house-carpenter [with] instructions to make a plan and elevation,” the result was comically unexpected:

It represented a two-stor[e]y common-place house, with a pediment; but on every corner and cornice, “coi[g]n and vantage,”15 were rows of glasses, bottles, punch-bowls, and wine-decanters! Such an exhibition as did not require to be a god to tell it was an inn. In short, no rule was ever more unequivocally illustrated, and cannot even yet be thought of with sobriety. (2:55)

Here, indeed, was an architecture parlante, and one more prelusive of popular architectural taste in Canada than Galt might have imagined. In its future lie the sorts of structures that generate the ascerbic comments that Margaret Atwood (1939- ) gives to the narrator of Surfacing (1972), one of which is a “bottle house ... built of pop bottles cemented together with the bottoms facing out, green ones and brown ones in zig-zag patterns like the ones they taught us in school to draw on tepees; there’s a wall around it made of bottles too, arranged in letters so the brown ones spell BOTTLE VILLA” (10, and see 19).

    When Galt continues his survey of the development of Guelph from its inception to circa 1833, he notes the presence of “several taverns and a ball-room” (2:62), but places these firmly in the context of the town’s less frivolous and more elevating elements. Because “[e]ducation is … so important to a community,” a “school-house” funded initially by the Canada Company “was … among the first buildings undertaken to draw settlers” (2:61, and see Doyle 79-80). Also undertaken “to draw settlers” was the Priory, a large log building punningly named for Charles Prior that contained not only the Company office projected by Galt, but also sleeping quarters and cooking facilities for new arrivals and their families. Located in the public space surrounding the spot where the first tree was ceremonially felled, it was in every sense except the most literal one the physical and symbolic hub of the town, the centre to and from which its streets and settlers came as if propelled by the centripetal and centrifugal forces of the Canada Company. Constructed of “‘round logs, the bark untouched,’” it was symmetrical in design and, by Galt’s account, “‘ha[d] a rustic portico formed with the trunk of trees in which parts of the Ionic order are somewhat intelligently displayed’” (qtd. in Stelter, “Guelph” 100, 102), features that raise the possibility that it was based on his own “very classical” drawing of “a central office for the Company. Insofar as Galt “equat[ed] … classical style with the introduction of civilization to the wilderness” (Stelter, “Guelph” 102) and with the exercise of ordering intelligence in (and on) “ancient Nature,” the Priory was the architectural equivalent of the “harps and piano-fortes” whose arrival in Guelph he heralds in his Autobiography “as a mark of … improved society” that is constructed with his desire “to give a superior character” to the town (2: 62).16

    Galt concludes his chapter on “The Founding of Guelph” by noting the increase in value of land in the area since “the foundations of the town were laid” and, in a final aggrandizing gesture, observing that, “like all cities fated with a high destiny,” it has been “the cause of quarrels[:] Romulas slew his brother for hopping over the walls of Rome, and … my city … gave rise to a controversy as worthy of commemoration, for the day I announced the birth of this metropolis to the directors of the Canada Company, my troubles and vexations began, and were accumulated on my unsheltered head till they could be no longer endured” (2: 62-63). As Guelph is to Rome, so Galt is to Romulas, for surely he would have identified himself at least as much with the builder and king of the new city as with his scornful and murdered brother. Nor is this the full extent of Galt’s aggrandizement of either himself or his “metropolis”: in the accumulation of “troubles and vexations … on [his] unsheltered head” there is more than a hint of King Lear (and also, perhaps, of Job) and in his later description of the road leading into Waterloo Street (see “Plan of the Town of Guelf”) as a “Babylonian approach” with “trees on each side far exceeding in height the most stupendous in England” (Autobiography 2: 90) there is more than a suggestion that Guelph should be ranked among the wonders of the ancient and modern worlds. In comparison, Burwell’s vision of “Talbot Road … / Rising transcendent in prosperity” (603-04) and even Goldsmith’s hope that the “glories” of Acadia will “rise / To be the wonder of the Western skies” (557-58) almost seem like understatements.

    The rise of a village or town (or, as Galt would have it, a “city” or a “metropolis”) is basic to the plan of his two immigrant novels, both of which bear the deep imprint of his experience in the founding and development of Guelph. Although the earlier of the two, Lawrie Todd, is set in New York rather than Upper Canada, its eponymous hero is as obviously semi-autobiographical as the eponymous hero of Bogle Corbet, which is set in a fictional version of the Canada’s Company Huron Tract. Both novels also display Galt’s interest and taste in architecture and, as already seen in Chapter 2: Logs to Riches, both contain highly detailed descriptions of the architectural structures (shanties, loghouses) of settlement. Since these have already been placed on view, the present discussion is free to focus primarily on the depiction of rising villages in the two novels.

    Between arriving from Scotland and selecting the site of the settlement of Judiville that he will be instrumental in establishing and developing, Lawrie Todd provides descriptions of two other “new town[s]” (1: 184), neither of which is destined to be as successful as his own venture. The first of these, Olympus, is doomed to slow growth and decline by its poor location in a swampy area: after three years, it consists of little more than “twenty houses, a place of worship, a school, and two taverns” and, in time, it loses population and ceases “to progress” (1: 184, 250). The second, Babelmandel, “as yet consist[s] but of shanties … log-houses” and a “large shed” – the equivalent in some respects of the tavern in The Rising Village – where the settlers congregate on rainy days to “tell stories and sing songs” (1: 188, 202). Soon after his arrival in Babelmandel, Todd reveals himself to be the dynamic (and self-congratulatory) agent of progress that he remains throughout the novel by instigating the construction of a school “for the prosperity of our children, and to the reputation of the settlement” (1: 233). Before scouting land for Judiville, Todd helps the man who will be his partner in the creation of the new settlement, a Mr. Hoskins from Vermont, to establish a “store” (1: 279) in Babelmandel, but the school – “a large shanty, till a proper loghouse could be raised by the community” (2: 233) – remains his major contribution to the rise of the village.

    As was Guelph in Galt’s mind, Judiville is a “city” in the making that begins, after roads have been put in place to open the area for settlement, with “the ceremony of the cutting down of the first tree in the market-place to-be”:

When we reached what was to be the centre of the town, the axemen or choppers cleared the brush or underwood from around a large tree, and the cannon [a veritable battery on wheels brought from Babelmandel] being properly placed, the old gentleman [Hoskins] took an axe and struck the first stroke, upon which the seven cannon were fired three times. I struck the second, and so it went round, until the tree fell with a sound like thunder, banishing the loneliness and silence of the woods for ever.
    Then we gave three cheers, the cannon were fired again, and … Mr. Hoskins gave for a toast, “Prosperity to Judiville”.… (2: 59).

Less ambivalent than Galt about the effect of settlement on Nature, Todd shares his creator’s (and Burwell’s) desire to look to the future, in this case to a “market-place” dominated by a building that recalls the Priory in style if not materials: a “large and handsome brick edifice with … stone piazzas in front … at the junction of Hoskins-street and Todd-street, between the Mansion-house-hotel and the Eagle-tavern” (2: 103). Although the “handsome brick edifice with … stone piazzas” (that is, covered walks or arcades) is a large store rather than a preliminary shelter for settlers, it recalls the Priory in having a second storey that Todd uses as a “dwelling-house” (2:120).17 In fact, after it had outlived its original use, the Priory was for a time Galt’s house, and in 1831 it “passed to private hands as a residence” (Stelter, “Guelph” 102). Neither mixed use nor adaptive re-use were foreign concepts in the settlements and settlement narratives of the eighteen twenties and ’thirties.

    By the time Todd takes up residence in the store-cum-house of Hoskins and Todd, “the progress of … [Judiville] has been very wonderful”: “[i]n less than five years from the date of “The festivaul” [sic] [of the felling of the first tree], it contained upwards of two thousand seven hundred inhabitants” (2: 246). In the same period, the town has also come to include “mills,” and “taverns,” and an “elegant villa” for the dowager of a family of superior social standing and culture (2: 249, 320, 119). With the population moving towards “ten thousand” and “buildings rising up on every side” of the store, the scene is set for the construction of a church of the sort found in the “old country” (246, 255, 250). Drawing on a Scottish emigrant’s memories of “a new church in Greenock” that he regards as “one of the finest buildings in Christendom,” a scion of the upper-crust family with “a genius for architecture” produces a “plan” that the emigrant judges “superior even to the Greenock basilica; inasmuch as the portico ha[s] six Corinthian pillars, and the steeple … [is] a stor[e]y higher” and, thus, remedies the one defect of its model (2:250-51). Not only in its neoclassical design but also in the method of its conception and its “wooden” construction, Judiville’s “grand church” (2:251, 270) is reminiscent of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Quebec and Christ Church, Montreal (see Chapter 1: Preliminary), but the spirit of display with which it is constructed also aligns it with the New Church in Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912), a structure built less for the glory of God than as evidence of “the size and the growing wealth of Mariposa” (106).

    With the continuing growth of Judiville, the village acquires more and more of the components of a town, and, indeed, a “city” or “metropolis.” The establishment of a newspaper results in the construction of a “printing-house” with an adjoining “book-store” (2: 254). “[N]ew mills,” a bank, a hotel, and “a tavern on a handsome scale” are built (2: 283, 312, 320), and after a sojourn of eight months in Scotland, Todd is pleased to report more “progress”:

    The main streets, both to the right and left of the premises of Hoskins and Todd – that is, Hoskin’s street and Todd’s street – were pretty well traced out by more than thirty respectable additional houses, of which seventeen were handsome brick fabrics; the bridge was completed, and the frame of a [new] Presbyterian church … was raised. In other parts of the town the improvements had been equally active; altogether, the additions within the eight months were, at least, two hundred and fifty houses, of which upwards of a hundred were handsome and substantial edifices. Politeness, with her shoe-brushes, had also become a settler. One of the first things I saw … was a large yellow printed bill, announcing the establishment of an agency for the sale of Day and Martin’s blacking. (3: 125-26)

In short, Judiville has progressed from rudeness to refinement: where Todd and Hoskins had slept “unsheltered in the woods” while inspecting the land for their “new settlement” (2: 34), there are now hundreds of “handsome and substantial edifices,” some of them made of “brick” rather than wood; where there were only the “loneliness and silence” of uninhabited Nature, there is now a second church under construction; when there was no time for social niceties, there is now polish, both literal (“blacking”) and metaphorical (“[p]oliteness”). Todd’s references in the closing pages of the novel to Judiville’s three schools (“[o]ne of them kept” by a poet-friend of “the Ettrick Shepherd” [James Hogg]) and six churches (“three of them … [with] steeples, one of them very handsome indeed”) indicate that, despite the presence of a “theatre” (“‘The Devil’s … chapel’”), the town will continue to grow in the right directions – which is to say, vertically as well as horizontally, upwards as well as outwards (3: 129, 221).18

    Not once but twice in the course of Galt’s second settlement novel references to Lawrie Todd suggest that Bogle Corbet will be applying Todd’s lessons and strategies to the creation of a settlement in Upper Canada. In the first instance, which occurs while Corbet is still in Scotland and before he has learned that his destination will be Upper Canada, he meets Todd and “glean[s] … much various information” from him that will help him “to avoid hardships … in the forest” (2: 181). In the second, which occurs after he has led a fractious group of Scottish emigrants to the fictional equivalent of the Huron Tract and they have “felled the first tree” for their settlement, he states that he has “proceeded pretty much according to the plan in which Mr. Lawrie Todd and his friend Mr. Hoskins did for Judeville [sic]” (2: 181; 3: 37). Except with respect to the tree-felling ceremony, this is scarcely accurate, however, for, unlike Todd’s Judiville, Corbet’s Stockwell is the result of communal effort rather than individual entrepreneurship. Indeed, it is the materialization of what is arguably a distinctively (Upper) Canadian society, one that seeks to harness Yankee ingenuity to “the co-operative spirit” or the desire to “live in community” (3:250). This has been fractured by differences of opinion among the emigrants yet, Corbet maintains, is “more … abroad on … [the North American] continent than can be well conceived by those who have never witnessed the energy with which improvements are conducted by Americans” (3: 250).19 It is the “intelligence and sagacity” of an American, Zebede L. Bacon, that persuades the Scots to build a grist-mill in accordance with the future rather than the present needs of Stockwell (3: 254), but the principles upon which the settlement is founded is “‘the common good’” as figured in Aesop’s fable of “The Bundle of Sticks,” which Corbet uses to unite the emigrants shortly before they fell the first tree. “‘If you separate in the wilderness, you will soon find yourselves as weak as each of the several sticks when the bundle was loosened,” he explains after assembling “the whole association, young and old, wives and mothers, around [him],” “‘but if you adhere to each other, your united strength will effect more with less effort than your utmost separate endeavours’” (3: 33). As suggested elsewhere, this speech may have played a seminal part in the development of the Canadian Confederation (see Bentley, Mnemographia Canadensis 1: 290-291).

    Be this as it may, the speech provides the ideological foundation for the first structure erected in Stockwell – a “shed,” “shanty,” or “house of general shelter” in which, as was the case with the Priory, “all the emigrants could be accommodated, until proper dwellings were erected for themselves” (3:40, 44, 39). Communal and civic in construction and purpose, this “house of general shelter” is a materialization of the collective spirit of the fable of the bundle of sticks. In it, as Hegel had written of architecture in general in the Introduction to Aesthetics, “the inorganic world has been … set in order symmetrically, and made akin to spirit, and the god’s temple, the house of his community, stands there ready” (84). While the emigrants are living in the “house of general shelter” (and being encouraged in their exertions by “the irksomeness of living in community” (Galt was by no means a utopian socialist), “roads” are opened, the “townplot … [is] divided into half acres,” and “separate houses” are constructed (3: 44-45). In due course, a “store-keeper settle[s]” at Stockwell and, despite continuing fractiousness, various social problems, and an inability on the part of most of the emigrants to plan for the future, the grist-mill and mill-dam are constructed and the village continues to “progress” (3: 48, 72, 247-62). After some three years, “the foundations … [are] laid of … [a] house of worship” and a school is established. However, neither the behaviour of the settlers nor the paucity of “reverential pastors” suggests that the village is rising as well as spreading (3: 258, 299, 260). After an intolerant and impious Methodist priest is dunked in the mill-dam by the young men of the village, Corbet comments that “the philosophical reader will have discerned … that we are advancing with considerable celerity in the way of refinement,” but in the same breath he observes that Stockwell has “not yet … [been] decorated with a gibbet” (3: 272). Bogle Corbet is not a narrative of innocence regained in the wilderness; rather, it is a fictional demonstration that, on April 27, 1827, “ancient Nature” had good reason to be “alarmed at the entrance of social man into her innocent solitudes with his sorrows, his follies, and his crimes.” Little wonder that the novel’s most exuberant architectural description is of a hotel near Niagara Falls20 or that it concludes with a disconsolate cautionary statement on the folly of emigrating too late in life.

    If Galt had lived to read Alexander McLachlan’s The Emigrant (1861) he would doubtless have been flattered by the use that it makes of Lawrie Todd and Bogle Corbet in its account of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a group of mainly Scottish emigrants as they travel to Upper Canada and establish a settlement. He might also have nodded knowingly at the poem’s closing vision of a settlement plagued by “public robbers,” “land jobbers,” “cunning politicians,” “quacks on spoil intent,” a “sorry set of teachers,” a “bogus tribe of preachers,” and a “host of herb physicians” (7: 311-17). Between Talbot Road and The Emigrant much had happened in Canada (not to mention the United States) to shatter the idea that, in Thomas Moore’s phrase, the North American continent was an “elysian Atlantis” (Poetical Works 94) where a new start could be made and the “sorrows, … follies, and … crimes” of the Old World left behind. A year after the publication of McLachlan’s poem, an anonymous article entitled “The Cities of Canada” in the inaugural number of The Anglo-American Magazine described Toronto as a city “whose every brick has been placed in its present position under the eye … of some who have seen the lonely wigwam of the Missasauga give place to the log-house of the early settler, and this in turn disappear, to be replaced by the substantial and elegant structures of modern art …” (1). Not only is such a “metamorphosis” over a period of forty years “wondrous,” continues the anonymous author, it is also cause to “rejoice over the triumph of civilization, the onward progress of our race….” That “progress” would, of course, continue, but the rising and spreading villages of the past would not “disappear” either in actuality or in literature. Toronto would become the mass of “sooty walls,” “ringing foundries,” and “smoke-filled forges” of Archibald Lampman’s The Story of an Affinity (1900) (2: 30-32), Guelph the “city” that Galt had projected, Halifax the thriving centre of “Commerce” of which Goldsmith dreamed, and similar processes of development would take place in one-time villages elsewhere in Canada. But in accordance with Aldo Rossi’s concept of “the persistence of the plan” in the “permanences” of an urban environment (51, 58-59), elements of the rising and spreading village remain to be experienced both directly and imaginatively. The remains of a mill-race runs through the backyards of homes in London, Ontario. A tavern is the setting for the first sketch of Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. The Jubilee of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women (1971) is coloured by the imagination of the novel’s adolescent narrator but it recalls centuries of planted Canadian towns both real and fictional:

    Jubilee was visible from a rise about three miles away, on No.4 highway.... The No. 4 highway was also the main street of Jubilee.... The town lay spread almost equidistantly on either side of the main street. Its shape ... was seen to be more or less that of a bat, [with] one wing lifted slightly....
    My mother would never let this sighting go by without saying something. “There’s Jubilee,” she might say simply, or “Well, yonder lies the metropolis,” or she might even quote ... a poem.... And by these words, whether weary, ironic, or truly grateful, Jubilee seemed to me to take its being. As if without her connivance, her acceptance, these streetlights and sidewalks, the fort in the wilderness,21 the open and secret pattern of the town – a shelter and a mystery – would not be there. (58)

“[T]he plan persists at different levels,” writes Aldo Rossi in The Architecture of the City; “it becomes differentiated in its attributes, often deformed, but in substance it is not displaced” (59).


Although successful examples of town planting received a good deal of attention in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century Canadian writing, unsuccessful examples are rarely mentioned and almost never described in detail. There are obvious reasons for this relative silence: settlers and land companies alike had a vested interest in optimism, and in promulgating the idea that new towns were regularly being planted and brought to maturity. All an ambitious and savvy settler or speculator had to do, much of the literature claimed or implied, was to select a suitable site, establish a nodal homestead, attract several other settlers, and the rest – the tavern, the church, the store, the school, and the doctor’s surgery of The Rising Village – would soon follow. Nevertheless the chance that a new town would either fail or stagnate was acknowledged by, among others, Susanna and J.W. Dunbar Moodie. In part because “European settlers know but little of the value of situation,” observed Dunbar in the “Canadian Sketches” section of the 1871 edition of Roughing It in the Bush, many “detached, feeble, and unprogressive settlements came into existence” (508), a case in point being Belleville, which “was laid out in 1816 for a village” but “remained nearly stationary for several years” (508, 510). “When I first visited … [Hamilton] in 1832 it was a dull and insignificant place, which might, I suppose, contain a population of 1200 to 1500,” he adds, but “on revisiting it in 1849,” “I … [could] hardly describe my surprise … to behold a city grown up suddenly, as if by enchantment, with several handsome churches and public and private buildings of cut stone, brought from the fine freestone quarries in the precipitous mountains or table-land behind the city” (510). Poorly located towns were doomed to slow growth or worse, but well-situated ones, however inauspicious their beginnings, would grow and prosper rapidly.

    Possibly the most mythologically ambitious and the most heavily mythologised of Ontario’s failed new towns was Romulus, the abortive brainchild of Henry Lamb, a United Empire Loyalist from Pennsylvania who settled near Rockton between Hamilton and present-day Kitchener. “[O]ut in the wilds of Beverly township there is a large city all laid out ready to be built,” reads the account of Romulus and Lamb in Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks (1897),

but beyond a few log buildings of a more than usually substantial character, and the nicely colored plan of the burg which exists somewhere there is nothing remaining to indicate the originally high aspirations of the place. It can scarcely be called a dead city, because it never reached urban importance, except in the mind of the founder, who, with his immediate relatives, now sleep the long sleep among the ruins of his hopes. To that extent, if not a dead city, it may be called a city of the dead. (118)

John Graves Simcoe envisaged the city that he planted at the forks of the Thames as another London and the founders and namers of Paris and Berlin (Kitchener) probably had similar hopes. Apparently Lamb’s aspirations were even more extravagant: he and his metropolis would bask in the aura of the legends surrounding the foundation and development of Rome: its inception as a group of primitive huts in a sylvan setting, its spectacular growth to cultural and imperial prominence, and perhaps even – for he was a Loyalist and a child of the eighteenth century – its myth of fratricidal murder following upon an initial harmony between Man and Nature in the suckling of Romulus and his twin brother Remus by a she-wolf.

    How much of Rome’s founding tradition was in Lamb’s mind when he named his settlement Romulus will probably never be known. What is clear is that the name proved inspirational to Robert Kirkland Kernighan (1857-1926), the writer to whom the editor of Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks entrusted the bulk of the book’s two chapters on “A City that Was Never Built” and “The Legends of Romulus.” A year before the appearance of the volume, Kernighan (or “The Khan” as he unfortunately styled himself) had published a hefty volume of verse through the Hamilton Spectator, and other works would follow in the ensuing decades. In “A City that Was Never Built,” he loses no time in capitalizing on the legends evoked by the name chosen by Lamb to endow him with mythic stature. Beneath the heading “There Were Giants in Those Days,” “[t]he man who founded Romulus” is cast as “one of them” – “[a] giant in courage, endurance and resource … [who] towered above his fellowmen as the great white pines of Beverly once towered above the black birches and the beeches that grew at their feet” (118). To anyone familiar with even the title of Kernighan’s first volume – The Khan’s Canticles – it would scarcely have come as a surprise that here and later in his account of Lamb alliteration is a major component of his rhetoric of aggrandisement.

    After a mere sentence of biography and genealogy (Lamb, it appears, was of “Highland Scotch descent”), Kernighan reverts to what Northrop Frye calls the “high mimetic mode”22 to assimilate his larger-than-life pioneer not only to Romulus, but also to the Titans:

The stupendous obstacles in his path never for a moment daunted this old hero. From the door of the rude shack which he had built to shelter him and keep the wolves out, he could not see more than 50 yards in any direction, and naught but the moon and stars by night and the sun by day shining above his little clearing reminded him that the universe was big and God was great. All alone in his splendid isolation, in the superb stillness and Titanic uproar of the forest, in the sweet safety and terrible peril of the bush, he conceived of great things. He set words to the splendid music of peerless pines, the tapering tamaracks, the heaped-up hemlocks, the majestic maples, the honest old oaks, the bizarre birches and the cold calm cedars, and he began to chant that hymn all over the world. (118)

More precisely (and as Kernighan subsequently makes clear), Lamb “hied him to England and advertised in … London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool for artisans and workers,” “promis[ing] them a house and a lot and firewood free,” “immunity from taxes for 25 years,” “plenty of game and fish,” and, in due course, all the amenities of a city:

He gave them a free site for a Church of England cathedral at the west end of the town and another site for the bishop’s palace and Roman Catholic cathedral in the east end, and free sites and building materials for churches of all other denominations. He gave a market square, a cricket ground, a race course; promised to erect a first theatre, concert hall and ballroom, and even advertised for an efficient chief of police. (118-19)

The many elements and “ands” of this passage emphasize the extent and manifoldness of Lamb’s beneficence, but the escalating scale of his promises also suggests that his plans were both extravagant and unrealizable.

    In the short term, however, his efforts and optimism apparently met with success. He returned from England “and built the first and biggest hewn log house in Beverly” (119). He “erected a huge stone milk house … big enough to furnish the milk, butter and cheese of the new city.” He “opened a tavern, built a church … whooped her up generally” and “[s]ettlers clustered round him, a road was built past his very door … [and] [h]is became the great half-way house between the head of navigation [on Lake Ontario] – Dundas – and the great German and Mennonite settlement in what is now Waterloo county.” (see i) A rising and spreading village seemed solidly in the making. That it did not continue to develop, Kernighan suggests, was because of the premature deaths of Lamb, his wife, and his brother and “right-hand man”: “[t]he hardships and terrors of the American revolution, the great hejiva23 northward, [and] the perils and dangers of the unknown woods had sapped their strength and they died within a short time of one another” (119).

    Less accomplished and engaging than “A City that Was Not Built,” Kernighan’s second sketch, “Legends of Romulus,” is nevertheless notable for its further construction of Lamb as “a man of mystery” and a source of “terror” to his sons (121). Like the mythical Bluebeard, Lamb kept one room in his house – a “great room at the top of … [his] log castle” – that was “always closed,” “heavily curtained,” and off-limits to everyone except him and “associates.” “They looked like other men,” observes Kernighan of these “associates,” “but there was something uncanny about them”: they “came from afar … and put up their horses in the great corral”; their presence transformed their host into “a genial gentleman of the old school” and his wife into the “grande dame” that she was by descent; one “recited Virgil” and “[a]nother, a Cambridge man, gave Sophocles’ Chariot Race, and when his weird and strange companions broke into a … shout of eulogy, a she-wolf screamed in the yard” (121-22). “There is talk of witchcraft, good Catholics cross … themselves, an old Indian employed about the place cut his wrist, and let the blood fall drop by drop on a burdock leaf” (122). “[U]nholy laughter,” the burial of a box of “crowns, half crowns, and florins,” and Lamb’s “disappearance through the moonlit forest” heighten the Gothic atmosphere until Kernighan discloses the reason for the secret room, strange guests, and seemingly sinister behaviour: Lamb was a senior Freemason (122). The uncanniness surrounding Lamb is thus dispelled,24 but “[t]he old Lamb homestead” remains in Kernighan’s mind at least a Gothic ruin: “what rare old stories would those walls tell!” he later exclaims; “[a]s I passed from room to room ghosts seemed to flit noiselessly before me, and as I went upstairs I noticed two ax marks on the banister rail, made in a desperate fight one wild winter’s night. I would hate to sleep all night alone in that house” (123).

    Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Kernighan’s account of Lamb’s failed ambitions is its anticipation of Atwood’s depictions of settler delusion and failure in such works as Surfacing (1972) and “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer” (1968). In contrast to Kernighan, who describes Lamb’s death and the failure of his project as the sad results of historical circumstances, Atwood celebrates the madness and defeat of a pioneer as an instance of the breakdown of imposed order and a breakthrough to a higher than rational level of consciousness.25 Nevertheless, a remarkable similarity exists between the two writers in their referral of Canadian settler failure to mythical patterns of successful plantation and in their depiction of Canada’s flora and fauna as witnesses to the folly of human aspiration. In “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer,” the protagonist’s attempt to “proclaim … himself the centre” and impose rational order on the land is resisted by plants and animals alike: “Things [such as ‘a tree-sprout, a … / weed”) / refused … / to let him name them. // The wolves hunted / outside” (Selected Poems 47, 50). In “A City that Was Not Built,” Kernighan positions Lamb similarly and envisages him generating a similar response:

He spread his rude map of British North America out on the top of a stump and laid a two-ounce bullet on the spot where the deserted hamlet of Romulus now stands. By the map he saw that he was located26 in the very heart of the British domains in America, right on the great highway from Quebec. This land was bound to have towns and cities. Why not have a great city right here under the bullet? He would build it. He bore the brand, not of Cain, but of a loyal subject and a true man, on face and forehead. Why should he not build a city? The wolves crept nearer and howled in derision, and the owls hooted with contempt, but he paid no heed. He took up 2000 acres of land around the bullet and named the new city Romulus. Why, it is hard to tell. Did the big she-wolf with hanging lugs and golden eyes that looked at him through the chinks of his cabin every night put the idea into his head? No one knows – but Romulus it was, although you will look vainly in the postoffice directory for it. It is a melancholy ruin – far more desolate than the majestic forest that Henry Lamb found. Now there is nothing but tumbling walls and broken roofs and weed-hidden paths and cold and barren fireplaces. (118).

Atwood’s poem ends with an allusion to Frye’s conception of Canada as “an inconceivably large whale” into which “[t]he traveler [or settler] from Europe edges … like a tiny Jonah” (“Conclusion” 824): “in the end … the green / vision, the unnamed / whale invaded” (Selected Poems 50). Kernighan draws his sketch to a close with a description of the Romulus cemetery that is freighted with allusions to Matthew 7. 24-25 (the “wise man, which built his house upon a rock”)27 and to the Pyramids at Giza that emphasize the pathos and even the irony of Lamb’s project and its fate:

… [Lamb, his wife, and his brother] sleep side by side and are the only occupants of one of the strangest and most pathetic graveyards in the world. Henry Lamb built this city on a rock, and he and his were determined to be buried in the middle of the town. The bodies were placed in their rude coffins side by side on the top of the ground and were covered with tons of great stones. A stone wall was built around them, and this was filled in and over with soil, so that when it was finished it formed a cairn 18 x 27 feet at the base and ten feet high. There they slept peacefully like the ancient Egyptian kings and queens in the pyramidal tombs, and every night the wolves foregathered above them and fought for the highest seats of the mighty. To-day these graves are unkempt and the wall in ruins. Groundhogs make their homes there down among the dead men’s bones and the wind and the weather of three-quarters of a century have left the cairn only four feet high. (119-20)

Although the “[g]roundhogs” of the final sentence tip this passage towards bathos, their presence adds a local element to the description that is present also in the earlier and possibly ironical allusion to The Seats of the Mighty (1896), Gilbert Parker’s historical romance about the fall of Quebec that was enjoying great acclaim and popularity at the time of the publication of Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landmarks.

    Like Parker’s novel, Kernighan’s sketch participates in the desire to eulogise Canada’s past that swept through Canadian writing in the last two decades of the nineteenth century from two principal sources: nationalism and nostalgia, the former a product of the country’s post-Confederation affirmation of its “Canadianism”28 and the latter a result of increasing urbanism and encroaching modernity. In 1897, Canada was thirty years old and Romulus, like the French-Canadian hamlet in Duncan Campbell Scott’s In the Village of Viger (1896), within easy distance of a “city that was growing rapidly” (Scott 3; and see Chapter 7: Northern Reflections). As the end of the century approached, Canadians sought evidence of their nation’s identity and found respite from their cacophonous cities in visions of heroic pioneers, isolated homesteads, and small villages where, they imagined, people lived in harmony with one another and with the Canadian landscape. “A City that Was Not Built” is a chronicle of unfulfilled hope,29 but in the combination of local pride and rural longing in Pen and Pencil Sketches of Wentworth Landscapes as a whole lie intimations of the celebration of Canadian village life in the finest work of Canadian fiction of the post-Confederation period: Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912).


  1. This information is drawn from tables in Helen Cowan’s British Emigration to British North America 288-89 and R.M. Martin’s The History, Statistics and Geography of Upper and Lower Canada 218. Cowan’s chart of emigration from the British isles to British North America between 1815 and 1865 shows a total of 486,946, beginning as a trickle (680) in 1815, increasing to a fairly steady flow of between circa 9,000 and 15,000 between 1816 and 1829 (with a high of 23,534 in 1819), and peaking at 58,067 and 66,339 in 1831 and 1832 before tapering off to between circa 20,000 and circa 30,000 in the subsequent decade. See also A.R.M. Lower, “Immigration and Settlement in Canada, 1813-1822” and Norman Macdonald, Canada, 1763-1841: Immigration and Settlement. [back]
  2. In his History of Urban Form, A.E.J. Morris identifies two types of urban expansion in the Middle Ages, “organic growth towns” and “new towns,” and divides the latter into two types that “would prove to be models … used to build cities in the New World”: “bastides” (“fortified towns built to a predetermined plan”) and “planted towns” (“new towns developed to promote trade as well as protect territory” [Hodge 29]). [back]
  3. A useful summary of the literature until 1994 is provided by Paul Voisey in “Urban History.” See also the essays assembled by Gilbert A. Stelter and Alan F.J. Artibise in Shaping the Urban Landscape: Aspects of the Canadian City-Building Process (1982), especially Stelter’s Introduction and the essays by Leo Johnson (“Ideology and Political Economy in Urban Growth: Guelph, 1827-1927” [30-64]), Michael Doucet (“Speculation and the Physical Expansion of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Hamilton” [173-99]), and Susan Buggey (“Building Halifax, 1841-1871” [232-56]). [back]
  4. See Nancy Z. Tausky and Lynne D. DiStefano, Victorian Architecture in London and Southwestern Ontario: Symbols of Aspiration 5 and 10 for London’s emergence as a district town. Upper Canada was divided into four districts in 1788 and then, by the Constitutional Act of 1791, into nineteen counties. In 1800, the number of districts was increased to eight, each containing four or five counties. The number of districts eventually expanded to twenty in 1849 before the system was abolished. [back]
  5. For a full account of the four stages theory, see Ronald L. Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble and for further discussions of its presence in pre-Confederation Canadian poetry see D.M.R. Bentley, Mimic Fires: Accounts of Early Long Poems on Canada 31-35, 44-47 and later. [back]
  6. See John Millar, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (1771) 88-89 and 101-02, and Bentley, Mimic Fires 121-22. [back]
  7. In A Profusion of Spires: Religion in Nineteenth-Century Ontario, John Webster Grant sees Upper Canada as heir to “[t]he dominant strain of eighteenth-century religion,” which, as “represented by the moderates of the Church of Scotland and the alliance of squire and parson in the Church of England, stressed the integration of religion into the social fabric.” “Relying on a perceived harmony of orthodox doctrine, with the science and philosophy of the age,” he continues, “religion teachers devoted themselves to the inculcation of morality, loyalty, and acquiescence to the status quo” (54). For Burwell’s account of the dream that inspired him to write Talbot Road and his later career in the Church of England and then in the Catholic Apostolic Church, see my Introduction to the poem in the edition of Michael Williams. [back]
  8. Both Goldsmith and Burwell were born in what would become Canada, the former in “the little Village of Saint Andrews” (New Brunswick) on July 6, 1794 (Autobiography 32) and the latter near Fort Erie (Upper Canada) in or around 1790. [back]
  9. For discussions of the relevance of John Locke’s ideas of rights in property to the clearing of the land and the depiction of the Native peoples in The Rising Village, see my Mimic Fires 110-12 and “Oliver Goldsmith and The Rising Village,” 34-38. [back]
  10. For discussions of the presence in this passage of Isaac Weld’s comments on the inquisitiveness of American inn keepers, see Mimic Fires 123 and “Oliver Goldsmith and The Rising Village” 55-56. [back]
  11. An important difference between the 1825 and 1834 editions is the absence in the latter of a note extolling the efforts of Agricultural Societies in Nova Scotia and of the Earl of Dalhousie (who was lieutenant governor of the province from 1816 to 1820 and then until 1828 governor-in-chief of British North America) for his support of them. See “Oliver Goldsmith and The Rising Village” for a discussion of the possible reasons for this omission, these being the agricultural progress made in Nova Scotia by 1834 and Dalhousie’s absence from Canada by that time. [back]
  12. “I … gave orders that operations should commence on St. George’s Day, the 23rd of April. This was not without design,” explains Galt, for “I was well aware of the boding effect of a little solemnity on the minds of most men, and especially of the unlettered, such as the first class of settlers were likely to be, at eras which betoken destiny, like the launching of a vessel, or the birth of an enterprize, of which a horoscope might be cast” (Autobiography 2: 54). [back]
  13. The bitter-sweet tone of this sentence sets it apart from the cheeriness of the editor of Barker’s Canadian Magazine (Kingston) when early in 1847 he “look[ed] around with pride and pleasure on this the land of our adoption … – proud in her early history and associations, but prouder still in her hopes and prospects for the future”: “[a]s we sit in a day-dream, looking over the broad expanse of Ontario, destined at no distant day to be covered with steam fleets, conveying the exuberant productions of the Western country to our great emporiums, around us is the hum of trade, the voice of industry – towns, villages, and dwellings, arise as if by magic – the forest is disappearing – Ceres ejects the wood nymph, and the green mantle of the joyous Spring enwraps the earth” (“The Policy of Our Magazine” 42). [back]
  14. In “Guelph and the Early Canadian Town Planning Tradition,” Gilbert A. Stelter observes that triangular-shaped market grounds were “common in mediaeval towns” and Galt “would have known the very attractive example in the town of Haddington, near Edinburgh” in his native Scotland (93). He also observes that the size of the market ground, which seemed inordinate to Samuel Strickland (“‘the marketplace … is large enough for a city containing fifty thousand inhabitants’”), is indicative of Galt’s belief that Guelph would become a large town and would eventually require a large market” (93). For an excellent discussion of Guelph’s ecclesiastical architecture, see Stelter’s “Henry Langley and the Making of Gothic Guelph.” [back]
  15. The quotation is from Banquo’s description of the affection of “The temple-haunting martlet” for Macbeth’s castle: “No jutty, frieze, / Buttress, nor coign of vantage but this bird / Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle” (Shakespeare, Macbeth 1. vi. 6-8). [back]
  16. In “Guelph in Upper Canada” in the November 1830 number of Fraser’s Magazine the Market House that the Canada Company had by then built in the Market Ground is described as “a rude copy of a Greek temple” that “resembles the Bourse of Paris” (456). If this is accurate, then the Market House must have been a further example of rustic classicism and, like William Robe’s ill-fated Market Building in Quebec City (see Chapter 6: The Centre in the Square) an attempt to invest public utility with architectural elegance. [back]
  17. Besides indicating his pride in the store, Todd’s subsequent description of an early stage of development suggests that it has the same symmetrical structure as the Priory: “[i]t was not so large as it is now, the two wings have been added in the course of the year after. The store … was … noble and capacious, and the warehouses behind had not their match then in all the Genesee country. The whole premises have, no doubt, been long since surpassed in appearance by many other edificial structures; but there has not yet been any building erected in Judiville, which, for conveniences within, and a judicious situation, can compare with the premises of Hoskins and Todd” (2: 245). [back]
  18. Todd also mentions that there are now “three bridges” spanning the river, “one of them of stone, and built after a beautiful design” by the young man who drew the plan for the “grand church” (3: 221). [back]
  19. For a discussion of a similar blending of the British and American that also includes a Native (Indian) component see my Afterword to Catharine Parr Traill’s The Backwoods of Canada (1836) 292-97. [back]
  20. “Forsyth’s hotel … has some pretensions to be considered magnificent. It has in front a huge colonnade, every pillar like the mast of a first-rate man-of-war, and almost as much out of proportion, and as large as those architectural monsters –the columns in front of the British Admiralty in Whitehall. The building is lofty, white painted, and with green Venetian blinds to the windows. Nothing of the sort can be more sumptuously imposing when seen from a distance …” (3: 221). [back]
  21. This phrase may well derive from Northrop Frye’s contention in the “Conclusion” to the Literary History of Canada (1965) that the “huge, unthinking, menacing and formidable physical setting” in which early Canadian communities found themselves produced “a garrison mentality” that is typified by “forts” on “the earliest maps of the country” (830). For a critique of this notion, see Chapter 15: Literature Architecture Community. [back]
  22. See Anatomy of Criticism 33-38, 50-51, 58-59, 62-65, and elsewhere for Frye’s discussions of literary works in which the hero is either “a divine being” or exhibits “godlike heroism” (33, 37). [back]
  23. The hegira (or hejra or hijra) was Mohammed’s flight from Mecca in 622 AD, from which is dated the Muslim era. [back]
  24. See Bentley, Mnemographia Canadensis 1: 125-39 for a discussion of some instances of the uncanny and related phenomena in Canadian writing. [back]
  25. See Bentley, The Gay] Grey Moose 26-28 for a discussion of the context of “Progressive Insanities of a Pioneer” in the writings of Norman O. Brown, R.D Laing, and others. The conceptual framework of Atwood’s Survival: a Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972) is derived largely from Eric Berne’s Games People Play: the Psychology of Human Relationships (1964). [back]
  26. In the colonial context, “located” means “establish[ed] legally as a settler on land under terms of settlement set by the government” (Gage Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles). [back]
  27. In “Legends of Romulus,” Kernighan continues the mythologizing of Lamb by referring to him as a Moses without a Joshua (123). [back]
  28. For a discussion of the meaning and use of this term in the late nineteenth century, see Bentley The Confederation Group 72-110. [back]
  29. Written almost a century later, “Diaspora: Lipton, Sask.” (1996) by Robert Currie (1937- ) is a poignant treatment of “Jewish farmers [who] wandered here from Russia” and “moved on  scattered” after “the wind blew their crops away,” presumably in the late nineteen twenties and early nineteen thirties. Set in Lipton’s “Jewish cemetary,” the poem relates that two members of the colony, Moses Swartz and Jacob Baratz, stayed on “beneath tin-plated roofs / safe in the line of final homes / that make a Main Street / in the village of the dead” (102-03). Its closing image is of white tombstones surrounded by “a haze of purple thistle” and “brown-eyed Susans bending in the wind” (103). [back]


Works Cited