On Woodstock’s Chapel Street Editions website, on their “About” page, you’ll find this paragraph:
“CSE is dedicated to a literature of place that advances an appreciation for not only our home region but for all of New Brunswick’s natural regions and the cultural life of their human settlements.”
George Frederick Clarke’s (GFC) Chris in Canada is certainly literature from a definite place (near Millville, NB) and a definite time, just after the Great War. Chris and his parents, along with Chris’ older brother Bob (who was in the war) have just immigrated to Canada, coming from England to establish a farm of their own in the vast wilderness that was Canada in the early 1920s. Originally published in 1925, CSE has revived it as part of their George Frederick Clarke Project and it has been edited by Mary Bernard, Clarke’s granddaughter.
The story opens with Chris and Bob on their way to join their parents who have preceded them from England.
Was this the land of opportunity to which Bob had begged his parents to come? Was this the land, a part of the Canada, which, according to Bob, stood with eager arms outstretched to the Motherland for more settlers to till her soil? Brood of the Anglo-Saxon were wanted, so that the country should retain those liberties dear to the British heart. Oh yes, he had been thrilled, had felt himself a pioneer, a trail blazer, one who was to help in his little way to lay more firmly the foundation of Empire begun when Wolfe died on the Heights of Quebec. Now he was conscious of Bob’s voice: “The agent told us it wasn’t much of a house; but I didn’t imagine it was quite so-so run down. Of course, we’ll have to build another right away.”
From Chris’ initial dismay at seeing where they were to live compared to what he left behind, he does see that his parents, particularly his mother is happy, so he is too. Chris is a Pollyanna in that everything is “jolly” and a new adventure for him, whether it is working hard at the farm, going on a fishing (or hunting) expedition, or helping to fight a raging forest fire that threatens the area, he is all eager and action. He simply cannot be held back!
Chris in Canada was written for the young male reader, much like the Hardy Boy mysteries of my day. Women have a subordinate role in the storyline, although Bob has a love interest (in the school teacher) and there is even a girl Chris’ age for him to chum around with.
This was GFCs first and one of his most successful books. As such, it is a time capsule and CSE did well to republish it for it holds a small niche in the canon of Canadian literature, even though it would certainly be published as a Young Adult book today. The sequel, Chris in the Wilderness, is to be published by CSE as well. You can visit their GFC Project page here: http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com/books_chapel_street_editions-copy-copy.html
About the Author
George Frederick Clarke published Chris in Canada in 1925. It remained in print for over twenty-five years. The success of this book turned Clarke’s writing in a new direction. He went on to create a series of well-received books about New Brunswick and became one of the province’s best-loved authors.
- Publisher : Chapel Street Editions (July 27 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 198 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1988299357
- ISBN-13 : 978-1988299358
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.