Painting the Maple: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada


290 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0692-3
DDC 971





Edited by Veronica Strong-Boag, Sherrill Grace, and Avigail Eisenberg
Reviewed by Margaret Conrad

Margaret Conrad is a professor of history at Acadia University. She is
the author of Intimate Relations: Family and Community in Planter Nova
Scotia, 1759–1800, and Making Adjustments: Change and Continuity in
Planter Nova Scotia, 1759–1800 and the co


This collection of essays, the result of interdisciplinary collaboration
among university-based scholars, explores the “complex ways Canada has
been and is being constructed.” As the book’s subtitle implies, the
essays are informed by recent scholarship, which calls into question the
national practices that serve to keep minorities and women out of the
master narratives of Canadian nation building. In pursuing their stated
goal of constructing a Canada that is more “flexible, equitable and
effectively inclusive,” the authors touch on a wide range of topics
and do indeed expand the scope of political analysis. Essays focus on
health care, political representation, immigration, multiculturalism,
literature, and television programs, and tease out meaning by what is
often a dazzling display of dexterity across disciplinary boundaries. To
take one example, Linda Chalykoff, in her cultural study of Chinese
migrants, uses two recent literary texts to highlight the exclusionary
preoccupations of late–19th-century official state documents.

While the editors emphasize in their introduction the importance of
encouraging collaboration between the academy and the wider community to
address our current troubles, Painting the Maple, with its sometimes
challenging prose, is designed primarily for academics. It will be
especially welcomed by graduate students. They will find here not only a
useful “integrative bibliography” to help them pursue
interdisciplinary scholarship but also some excellent examples of how
cultural, postcolonial, feminist, and queer theories push the boundaries
of discipline-based research and call into question long-held verities.
There are also several highly accessible pieces, including Veronica
Strong-Boag’s nuanced exploration of E. Pauline Johnson’s career as
poet and activist and Becki Ross’s analysis of Canada’s Lesbian
Nation. In these as in the other essays in the volume, the overriding
conclusion is that Canada is a much more complex place than we have been
led to believe and that taking the time to explore these complexities is
both rewarding and a matter of some urgency.


“Painting the Maple: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,