Road Dancers


90 pages
ISBN 0-7780-1114-3
DDC C818'.54





Edited by Robert Gibbs
Reviewed by Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur is the author of The Rise of French New Brunswick and
co-author of Silver Harvest: The Fundy Weirmen’s Story.


The late Alden Nowlan has become a cult figure among a certain set
centred mostly in Fredericton. And with good reason. His
larger-than-life figure was a familiar one in the provincial capital
during the 1960s and 1970s. Among those who read Nowlan’s daily column
in the Saint John Telegraph-Journal Robert Gibbs, a young English
professor at the University of New Brunswick.

Gibbs’s has divided this selection of Nowlan’s columns into four
sections: the first explores the world of the media and media
personalities, the second examines public morals and mores, and the
third and fourth are mostly political. (The latter two sections, Gibbs
writes, “contain much of his best and funniest satire.”) Column
topics include John Lennon’s “bed-in,” a television special on
Johnny Cash, and Charlie Chamberlain of Don Messer’s Jubilee show. In
one of the columns, Nowlan concocts a dialogue between Pierre Trudeau
and Robert Stanfield, emphasizing the latter’s wordy and halting

Nowlan’s sharpest barb, directed at Allan MacEachen, was inspired by
the federal finance minister’s comment that “our productivity
performance has been very disappointing.” Wrote Nowlan: “He has
never produced anything in his life except words. First he was a
professor, then he became a politician. So he has quite literally done
nothing but talk all of his life.” The same could be said of Nowlan,
except that, as this collection demonstrates, he had a gift for writing,
often with an deft satirical twist.


Nowlan, Alden., “Road Dancers,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,