A Few Acres of Snow: Literary and Artistic Images of Canada


277 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55002-157-5
DDC 808.88'8





Edited by Paul Simpson-Housley and Glen Norcliffe
Reviewed by Susan Minsos

Susan Minsos is a sessional instructor of English at the University of


The intention of this collection (whose academic contributors hail from
geography and social science rather than English, history, or fine arts
departments) is, according to editors Norcliffe and Simpson-Housley,
“to show that qualitative approaches rooted in the humanities and in
the fine arts, and now flourishing in geography and related social
sciences, present ‘new ways of seeing.’” Writers ruminate on the
connection between Canada’s landscape and our creative souls, citing
artists largely from time past (for example, C.W. Jefferys, Charles
Mair, L.M. Montgomery, Marmaduke Matthews, and Hugh MacLennan) and some
from time present (Aritha van Herk, Ujo Nakano, Robert Kroetsch, and
Norval Morrisseau).

Ellen Ramsay’s “Picturing the Picturesque: Lucius O’Brien’s
Sunrise on the Saguenay” and Jon Caulfield’s “Augurs of
‘Gentrification’: City Houses of Four Canadian Painters” handily
capture the text’s mandate “to present new ways of seeing.”

Sociologist Jacqueline Gibbons (“The North and Native Symbols:
Landscape as Universe”) and geographer Brian Osborne (“‘The
Kindling Touch of Imagination’: Charles William Jefferys and Canadian
Identity”) give their opinions using an even tone and pleasant style.
They are cheerful exceptions among this well-published group of
contributors, whose voices tend to sound pedantic and stilted,
presumably espousing “old ways of writing.” Still, an informative
text has emerged from a bold interdisciplinary endeavor.


“A Few Acres of Snow: Literary and Artistic Images of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12316.