Yankee Notions


141 pages
ISBN 0-88754-497-5
DDC C812'.54




Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp is chair of the Drama Department at Queen’s University
and the author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


This play is based on The Wait Letters, which was published by Maria and
Benjamin Wait in 1842. The book tells the true story of a young
rebel’s adventures during the Upper Canadian rebellion of 1837 and his
wife’s efforts to save his life. Besides forcing us to re-examine our
ideas with respect to that rebellion, Yankee Notions presents Canadian
history as a living, breathing, and romantic experience, and creates two
articulate and disparate heroines who can bear comparison with any in
the canon of modern dramatic literature.

Damir Andrei, who directed the premiere of Yankee Notions at the Blyth
Festival in 1992, discerns in his introduction analogies between the
events leading up to the 1837 rebellion and our present-day situation:
governments that become dangerously removed from the ordinary citizen,
punitive taxes, and an economy that had been ruined through inept
stewardship. What we have in Yankee Notions is not a historical epic
removed from reality but a play about ordinary Canadians fed up with
their governing classes and eager to strike a blow for change. Living
history with a message for the present: you can’t ask much more of a
play than that.


Chislett, Anne., “Yankee Notions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/6520.