Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Improved Earth: Prairie Space as Modern Artefact 1869-1944

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Improved Earth: Prairie Space as Modern Artefact 1869-1944

Article excerpt

R. Bantjes, Improved Earth: Prairie Space as Modern Artefact 1869-1944 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). 204pp. $45. ISBN 0-8020-8782-5.

This is a difficult book to read, of that there is no doubt, but it has very interesting facets as the author struggles to embrace conflicting concepts of provincial ideals, agrarian political movements and the transformation of the landscape. One is startled by the cut-off point of 1944 when in his concluding chapter Bantjes tries to trace some of what has happened in the last sixty years. So much attention these days, especially south of the Canadian border, is caught up with eco-strategies or the lack of them that the treatment of rural space has assumed even greater importance in our lives.

There are obvious signs of this being an adaptation of a thesis. There is an over-abundance of notes to justify points being made. There should be less self-justification, even if this book is headed for the shelves of university libraries rather than the general public. Indeed, it is perhaps the general public who most need instruction about what is going on in the world and not just in Saskachewan, but I must resist the temptation to criticise a book that the author patently did not intend for that purpose.

Land ownership (and the uses to which such land is put) raises vital issues for everyone. Intervention by state or provincial government for mutual benefit is subject to human fallibility, and errors of judgement are rife. …

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