The Old Lost Land of Newfoundland: Family, Memory, Fiction, and Myth.


48 pages
ISBN 978-1-897126-35-6
DDC 971.8





Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R. Gordon Moyles is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Alberta, co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities: British
Views of Canada, 1880–1914, and author of The Salvation Army and the


Wayne Johnston, in 1908, was the second major Canadian author to share his views on the art (and joy) of writing via the Henry Kreisel lecture sponsored by the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta. He sub-titled his talk, “Family, Memory, Fiction and Myth,” and, as this reprinted version attests, it was a humorous, witty, anecdote-filled personal look back at how his family dealt with that traumatic time in the colony’s history—Newfoundland’s entry into Canada on March 31, 1949—and how he has treated their anguish in his novels. It is an enlightening look at how memory and myth converge to create fiction. And it is just as delightful and informative to read as it was to listen to. Even if (as, believe it or not, some people do) one should cherish the memory of Joey Smallwood, one can, through Johnston’s lecture, as indeed through his novels, appreciate the personal sense of loss many Newfoundlanders felt as he took them “screaming and kicking” into Confederation. That, of course, may just be part of the myth for, as Johnston suggests, “Family, memory, myth, and fiction still persist together, inextricably. And fiction is always, and sometimes blessedly, our story of last resort.”


Johnston, Wayne., “The Old Lost Land of Newfoundland: Family, Memory, Fiction, and Myth.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,