Borderlands: Essays in Canadian-American Relations


328 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55022-133-7
DDC 327.71073





Edited by Robert Lecker
Reviewed by Graham Adams, Jr.

Graham Adams, Jr., is a professor of American history at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.


Borderlands presents 14 studies, all of which pertain to those regions
that are close to the Canadian-American boundary. These articles examine
political, economic, social, and cultural concerns that reach from the
Atlantic provinces to the Pacific Coast.

Several authors find that the boundary played a vital part in shaping
Canada’s identity. Journalist Richard Gwyn, in Russell Brown’s
essay, asserts that the border marks the starting point for being “not
American.” Frances W. Kay observes that American literature has
portrayed the West as a Garden of Eden awaiting development and
exploitation by individuals while Canadians have viewed the movement
west more as exercise in commutarianism. In a perceptive essay, Sherrill
E. Grace compares Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic with Tom
Thomson’s The Jack Pine. Wood emphasized people, with the western
environment simply as a background, while Thomson’s work (like that of
other Group of Seven members) was devoid of human image. His North,
unlike Wood’s West, remained impervious to change or even to human

Other essays cover a wide variety of topics. Mildred A. Schwartz
discovers similarities to America’s populist, socialist, and
NonPartisan League movements in Canada’s CCF and Social Credit
parties. America, Thomas F. McIlwraith declares, used its railways to
build an internal empire, while Great Britain concentrated on seapower
and regarded development of inland Canada as a marginal activity. Donald
G. Janelle predicts an economic resurgence for New Brunswick, Quebec,
and Maine, and P.P. Ghandi notes that New York State and Vermont have
ranked as major recipients of Canadian investment because of their
proximity to Ontario, the richest market in Canada.

Except for the fact that it investigates one specific geographic area,
Borderlands has no common theme. It is also unfortunate that most of the
authors are identified only by name and not by nationality, profession,
or disciplinary interest. Some individual essays contribute challenging
insights; they lay the groundwork for a future study, which one hopes
may furnish us with a single unified interpretation of this unique


“Borderlands: Essays in Canadian-American Relations,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,