Northern Trader
University of Regina Press / 10 December 2015

Northern Trader: The Last Days of the Fur Trade by H. S. M. Kemp Published by University of Regina Press Review by Kris Brandhagen $27.95 9780889773165 Originally published in the 1950s, Northern Trader: The Last Days of the Fur Trade by H.S.M. Kemp is a memoir that begins in 1908 with Harold Kemp in his teens making the trip to Lac La Ronge to ask for a job with the Hudson Bay Company. With romantic thoughts in his mind about what it might be like to be a “company man,” he encountered frozen lakes that made canoe travel out of the question, necessitating a hard suffering walking trip. Unaccustomed to moccasins and snowshoes, under advisement of his native guide, he rubbed bacon grease on his feet every night, and finally reverted back to his patent leather shoes in favor of their hard soles. To travel the northern elements, with cracked feet, in search of a job seems surprising, but that’s how Kemp did it. Northern Trader is written in a very accessible style by a white Prince Albert man originally from England. Through his stories the reader learns that he is no ordinary “company man” in that he prefers to…

Disengaged: Fixed Date, Democracy, and Understanding the 2011 Manitoba Election
University of Regina Press / 21 October 2015

Disengaged? Fixed Date, Democracy and Understanding the 2011 Manitoba Election By Andrea D. Rounce and Jared J. Wesley Published by University of Regina Press Review by Allison Kydd $39.95 ISBN 9780889773554 A book written primarily by academics for academics may not initially jump off the shelf. Then there are the realities of publishing date-sensitive material; contributors’ reasonable comments and assumptions can be out of date by time of publication. Yet Disengaged?, a disassembling of a particular election, identifies important issues and has implications beyond the province of Manitoba in 2011. It also made fascinating reading while the country was in the midst of the 2015 federal election campaign. As suggested by the title, Andrea Rounce, Jared Wesley and nine other contributors focus on voter engagement, as democracy depends on an engaged electorate. Insights about voter participation are also relevant outside Manitoba, and political science professor Wesley compares Manitoba voter trends with federal rates and those of other provinces. He also provides some historical background. Unfortunately, some comments are out of date. For instance, Wesley makes no mention of “the orange sweep” and election of New Democratic poster girl Rachel Notley in Alberta. Neither do speculations about the significance of a…

Human on the Inside
University of Regina Press / 20 October 2015

Human on the Inside: Unlocking the Truth About Canada’s Prisons by Gary Garrison Published by University of Regina Press Review by Kris Brandhagen $29.95 ISBN 9780889773769 Gary Garrison’s book Human on the Inside: Unlocking the Truth About Canada’s Prisons is a work of nonfiction that expounds upon different aspects of the prison system in Alberta, with some references to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Garrison was a volunteer (and subsequently a coordinator) of a program called M2W2 which places volunteer visitors with prisoners of the same gender. Garrison’s position “as a person with a community agency” is to be impartial, supporting convicts, guards, police, chaplains, native elders, victims, and potential future victims. From this point of view, he must let the reader know where he comes from, what he believes, and where he stands; therefore, in actuality, much of this book is, selflessly, and earnestly, about him. Initially I thought that the book was going to go into gory detail about crime, but that’s not the bent here. There are few crimes that are actually briefly described within these pages. Garrison’s focus is not on the crimes themselves so much as the people involved, how they are affected, and how they go forward in life….

Boiling Point and Cold Cases
University of Regina Press / 10 September 2015

Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories by Barb Pacholik, with Jana G. Pruden Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-286-1 Gruesome, grisly, and ghastly are just three words that might describe some of the crimes in Barb Pacholik’s Boiling Point & Cold Cases: More Saskatchewan Crime Stories. Readers might wonder how some people can treat other humans so brutally. The collection consists of forty stories, thirty-six black and white photos or illustrations, and a list of sources on topics as diverse as Prohibition, marijuana grow-operations, and the Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan. Crimes range from shooting, stabbing, bludgeoning, and arsenic poisoning. Some motives are just plain weird. It’s hard to believe someone would kill another human being just to steal his car stereo. One man killed his family because, he said, he loved them so much. The time span ranges from late 19th century to early 21st century, primarily in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The earliest case cited in Boiling Point and Cold Cases occurred in 1885 when John Connor murdered Henry Mulaski in Moose Jaw. Connor was hanged in Regina on the very day that the trial of Louis Riel began….

Identities of Marie Rose Delorme Smith: Portrait of a Métis Woman, 1861 – 1960
University of Regina Press / 4 September 2015

The Identities of Marie Rose Delorme Smith: Portrait of a Métis Woman, 1861-1960 by Doris Jeanne MacKinnon Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-236-6 Doris Jeanne MacKinnon’s The Identities of Métis Rose Delorme Smith: Portrait of a Métis Woman is an incredible story of a seemingly ordinary woman who lived a remarkable life spanning nearly a century, from 1861 to 1960. In an era when ordinary women often remained unknown, what sets her apart? She lived at a time and place when significant western Canadian history was being made and personally knew many of the historical personalities of the time. She was also well-educated and literate, rare for a Métis woman of that period, and recorded her experiences in a diary. It’s incredible that she overcame all the hardships she did – surviving whooping cough as a youth, being “traded” in 1877, at age sixteen, to a white man more than twice her age for $50, giving birth to seventeen children, and losing two sons in the First World War. According to Marie Rose, her arranged marriage was the result of a misunderstanding. When Charlie Smith, a wealthy whisky trader, grabbed hold of her…

University of Regina Press / 4 September 2015

#IdleNoMore: And the Remaking of Canada by Ken Coates Published by University of Regina Press Review by: Justin Dittrick $27.95 ISBN: 9780889773424 In #IdleNoMore: And the Remaking of Canada, Ken Coates examines the Idle No More movement from its understated beginnings in November 2012 to its climax in the late winter of 2013. While Idle No More can be compared to other social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, it differs from them in several important ways. It is these differences that make the movement truly remarkable, including its lack of an official spokesperson, its lack of affiliation with political leaders, mainstream ideologies, and party elites, and its lack of an organizational structure beyond organizers’ commitment to its grassroots origins and inspiration. Indeed a convincing argument can be made that Idle No More contributes a set of best practices for peaceful, exuberant, and community-driven protest. With its energy, direction, and focus coming almost entirely from the public, it is greater than the sum of its actions and events, having galvanized discussion and instilled pride in a new generation of Indigenous Canadians on a wide assortment of issues and challenges to be faced in the coming years….

Metis and the Medicine Line
University of Regina Press / 2 September 2015

Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People by Michel Hogue Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 9780889773806 On the open prairies in the 1870s, one could look to the horizon without seeing any distinguishing features. Yet here was the border – an invisible boundary along the forty-ninth parallel – dividing the United States and Canada. The job of the North American Boundary Commission was to make the invisible border visible. They did this by building mounds of sod placed three miles apart – surely a ludicrous situation since anyone standing beside a mound would barely be able to see the next mound even on a clear day. Although “First Nations” doesn’t actually appear in the title of Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People the book devotes substantial space to their issues as well. Author Michel Hogue sheds light on both Metis and First Nations people and their culture. As the subtitle suggests, the Medicine Line divided not only the two countries, but also the people living there. Hogue points out that Metis and First Nations people were well aware of the power and…

The New Wascana Anthology
University of Regina Press / 27 August 2015

The New Wascana Anthology Edited by Medrie Purdham and Michael Trussler Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $49.95 ISBN 978-0-88977 The beauty of an anthology – and particularly a multi-genre example, like the The New Wascana Anthology, is that readers can sample from a veritable banquet of hand-picked work. This book represents a “best of” combination of two earlier “Wascana” anthologies (poetry and short fiction), plus other important and entertaining work. Editors Medrie Purdham and Michael Trussler’s intent was “to preserve the strengths of the earlier anthologies” and “add a variety of new selections to make a textbook that would be especially amenable to the twenty-first-century classroom.” Within these 551 pages you’ll discover popular works from the canon (American, British, and Canadian) sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with pieces by contemporary Canadians, including many of Saskatchewan’s finest (current or former residents), including Lorna Crozier, Patrick Lane, Gerald Hill, Karen Solie, and newcomer Cassidy McFadzean, b. 1989. You may find yourself remembering poetic lines from Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Dickinson, and then be pleased to shake the metaphorical hand of contemporary short story writers like Eden Robinson, Dianne Warren, Rohinton Mistry, Alexander MacLeod (his “Miracle Mile” is placed next to…

Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap

Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap Edited by Randal Rogers and Christine Ramsay Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $39.95 ISBN 9-780889-772922 If you’ve been to London, England, you’ll be familiar with the phrase “Mind the Gap,” a caution to tube-users re: stepping between the train and the platform. Randal Rogers and Christine Ramsay, joint editors of Overlooking Saskatchewan: Minding the Gap – a collection of diverse essays about Saskatchewan as seen through cultural, artistic and historical lenses – suggest their title is derived from the province’s experience of being overlooked: a metaphorical gap “between Calgary and Winnipeg, to be looked down on, literally, as one flies over.” The editors aspired to collect work that would have broad appeal “as a contribution to knowledge about Saskatchewan culture that builds upon important research,” and address the various “gaps” that have existed – or continue to exist – within the province. I surmise that the editors also wished to address why Saskatchewan should not be overlooked. They aimed to “authentically address what it means to live and belong in this place,” and they pulled in some heavy hitters to make their arguments. Although the book’s intended for both…

Women’s History

Women’s History Edited by Wendee Kubik and Gregory P. Marchildon Published by University of Regina Press Review by Keith Foster $34.95 ISBN 9780889773127 The history of women in the Prairies is a story of accomplishment and ongoing struggle – clearly depicted in Women’s History, edited by Wendee Kubik and Gregory P. Marchildon, This is the fifth volume in the History of the Prairie West Series, designed to appeal to a wide audience, from general readers to professional historians. Although Women’s History focuses on the three Prairie Provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, it also extends to the American West. The book includes an array of subjects, including prohibition, vagrancy, suffrage, political activism, and union organizing. Women’s History is divided into six sections – Politics, Law, Agriculture, Labour, Journalism, and Ethnicity – covering the period from the 1870s to 2005. The seventeen analytical essays by fifteen authors were previously published in various issues of Prairie Forum; they are now conveniently located in this one volume. Each section contains essays appropriate to that area, often with intriguing titles such as “Spinsters Need Not Apply: Six Single Women Who Attempted to Homestead in Saskatchewan between 1872 and 1914,” and “25¢ an Hour; 48…