Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities


227 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-8020-8668-3
DDC C813'.5409321732




Edited by Justin D. Edwards and Douglas Ivison

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 making the case for “the city as a place of Canadian society and
culture, including its literature,” this stellar anthology of essays
offers a spirited challenge to the stances of prominent literary critics
and authors who have posited the supremacy of “the natural world” as
the primary Canadian identity in Canadian literature.

Aimed primarily at academics, the essays are thoroughly researched and
buttressed with quotations and endnotes, several pages of “Works
Cited,” and brief biographical notes for each of the 12 contributors
from colleges and universities in Canada, Japan, and Sweden. The themes
of the essays, although focused on the urban in Canadian literature,
reflect the special interests of the essayists. Steven Artelle’s study
discusses the “post-confederation literary culture of Ottawa.”
Christopher Armstrong uses Barometer Rising and The Nymph and the Lamp
as a base for his discourse on Halifax, its region, and the Empire.
Barbara Godard traces “lesbian emotion” through Comme un enfant de
la terre. Peter Dickinson elaborates on “a resident reading (and
teaching) of Vancouver writing.” Domenic Beneventi discusses two
Montreal authors, while Batia Boe Stollar focuses on two Toronto
writers. Paul Milton discusses two novels about suburbia. Lisa
Salem-Wiseman paints literary “Portraits of the Artist as Ambivalent
Urban Hipster.” John Clement Ball analyses The Rules of Engagement by
Catherine Bush to delineate her transitional urbanism between Toronto
and London. The collection opens with an insightful overview and thesis
statement by editor Edwards and ends with an equally compelling epilogue
by both editors.

An important contribution to CanLit studies, Downtown Canada deserves
wide readership in Canada and beyond.


“Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,