Georgic Ideals and Claims of Entitlement in the Life Writing of Alberta Settlers

  • Author / Creator
    McDonald, Shirley A.
  • My study focuses on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of seven British and Anglo-Canadian pioneers who settled in southern Alberta to establish farms and ranches. An exploration of these texts reveals language patterns pertaining to agriculture and animal husbandry practices. The figure of the horse has notable presence in the diaries and memoirs, as does an ethic of stewardship modelled in Virgil’s Georgics. The authors of the diaries and letters recorded their georgic practices at the time of settlement, while the memoirists recollected stories of pioneer farming later, in georgic literary style. I compare sub-literary and literary depictions of settlement to explore the ways in which settlers transform literal experiences into literary expression, specifically, into utopian and frontier myths in which they emphasize their labour, struggles, and achievement. Significantly, all of these authors downplay the efforts of hired hands, whose help ensured the success of their agricultural operations. Documenting their progress, moreover, the authors enacted or re-enacted the erasure of Indigenous culture and its replacement by the Anglo-Canadian culture that dominated the first prairie communities in Alberta. The purpose of my study is to reveal these manuscripts as colonial discourses that support the writers’ claims of entitlement to prairie land.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • English
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Read, Daphne (Department of English and Film Studies)
    • Krahn, Harvey (Department of Sociology)
    • Carter, Sarah (Department of History and Classics)
    • Wiesenthal, Christine (Department of English and Film Studies)
    • Kaye, Frances (Department of English)