Canoe Nation

Nature, Race, and the Making of a Canadian Icon

Bruce Erickson

  • Published: 2013. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 252 pp., 11 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

More than an ancient means of transportation and trade, the canoe has come to be a symbol of Canada itself. In Canoe Nation, Bruce Erickson argues that the canoe's sentimental power has come about through a set of narratives that attempt to legitimize a particular vision of Canada that overvalues the nation's connection to nature. From Alexander Mackenzie to Grey Owl to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the canoe authenticates Canada's reputation as a tolerant, environmentalist nation, even when there is abundant evidence to the contrary. Ultimately, the stories we tell about the canoe need to be understood as moments in the ever-contested field of cultural politics.
Bruce Erickson is an assistant professor in the department of geography at York University in Toronto.

"In this book, Erickson places the canoe firmly in the middle of timely and thorny debates in Canadian cultural politics and makes us rethink our histories and present actions with new and provocative insights. It is a significant intervention in Canadian studies and other related fields including cultural and historical geography, environmental studies, and Aboriginal studies."
-Laura Cameron, Department of Geography, Queen's University
Preface: Canoeing Matters

Introduction: Canoes and the Nature of Canada

1. Pedagogical Canoes: "Forced Intimacy," Suffering, and Remembering National History

2. I Fish, Therefore I Am: Recreational Canoeing and Wilderness Travel at the Turn of the Century

3. Regimes of Whiteness: Wilderness and the Production of Abstract Space from Seton to Grey Owl

4. Recreational Nationalism: Canoeing as Political Activism

Conclusion: Future Politics and the Production of the Nation