Souvenir of Canada 2


144 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55365-043-3
DDC 971





Reviewed by Kimberly J. Frail

Kimberly J. Frail is a librarian in the Science and Technology Library
at the University of Alberta.

Public Services Librarian
University of Alberta Libraries
Bibliothèque Saint-Jean


In Coupland’s second visual homage to his home and native land, Canada
is geographically vast but demographically diminutive—a reference to
the “Do you know So-and-So?” phenomenon explained in the first entry
“Big Country.” Most of the images are accompanied by personal
anecdotes, explanatory notes, or bits of Canadian trivia that help to
put them in context. Coupland’s style of writing is self-effacing,
informal, and engaging. He claims that his critique of Canada’s lumber
industry will be his “official rant in the old folks’ home.”

The bulk of the volume is devoted to photographs of “Canada House,”
an art project involving an abandoned Vancouver home and various found
and fabricated objects that Coupland completed in 2003. The exhibit was
limited to five days prior to the demolition of the property and
includes two categories of art: “quilts, cabinets and the like” and
objects constructed to reflect perceptions of Canadian society. A
particularly stark example of the latter is a Victorian kissing chair
upholstered in red and blue “hoser” fabric.

On the whole, the tone of the book is positive, and the author’s
sincere appreciation for and infatuation with Canadian culture are
apparent. However, there is a strong moralizing undercurrent,
particularly with regard to environmental issues. Coupland makes
reference to the depletion of Atlantic Cod, the pollution of West Coast
ecosystems from chemicals used in the fish-farming industry, and the
smelt emissions that caused Sudbury to resemble a “barren lunar
landscape” in the 1960s.

While Souvenir 1 contains a series of original still-life images
assembled and shot by Coupland, Souvenir 2 features more reproductions
of commercial images and photographs of newsmaking individuals and
events—with the notable exception of the Canada House section.
Souvenir of Canada 2 is the result of one person’s desire to express
what it means to be Canadian, and is appropriate for anyone with an
interest in Canadiana or visual arts.


Coupland, Douglas., “Souvenir of Canada 2,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,