Final Season


253 pages
ISBN 1-894345-48-7
DDC C813'.6





M. Wayne Cunningham is a past executive director of the Saskatchewan
Arts Board and the former director of Academic and Career Programs at
East Kootenay Community College.


In this debut novel by Edmontonian Wayne Arthurson, a community of
northern Manitoba neighbours, Natives and whites, drink beer, play
bingo, smoke, fish commercially, talk sporadically about working for
Hydro and speculate endlessly about the potential fortunes to be made
from the settlement of the IBA with the power company.

Interwoven with these threads are the strands of a mystery-shrouded
burial on the lake, a forest fire in which a young Native emerges as a
hero while his best buddy turns into a thief and attempted cop killer,
an aging elder who refuses to apply for his status card, and a comedic
turn of events when a First Nations negotiator outfoxes his Hydro
counterpart by conning him into paying for a $20,000 dinner tab, the
exact dollar difference between Hydro’s final offer and the amount the
townsfolk had originally requested as a settlement of their claims.

The action of the plot unfolds in highs and lows and the tensions
between and among the characters ebb and flow. The mystery of the watery
burial is maintained to its surprising revelation near the end of the
novel. The rhythms of the dialogue and the prose reinforce the reality
of the conversations and evoke the emotions of the characters.
Particularly evocative is the description of a young man who lingers in
the corner of a dance hall before connecting with the woman he
eventually marries.

The overall success of the novel lies in its realistic depiction of
small-town life in which the everyman and everywoman characters go about
their daily business of living and hoping for better times for
themselves and their kids, while often recalling better days as they
drift into their final season. An enjoyable read with some memorable


Arthurson, Wayne., “Final Season,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,