Don Gillmor – Kanata (2009)

This is an exceptional novel that weaves cumulative episodes of Canadian history throughout a first-person narrative of an Albertan Blood Indian.

Don Gillmor (Courtesy: Kevin Van Paassen, The Globe and Mail)

Don Gillmor (Courtesy: Kevin Van Paassen, The Globe and Mail)

The book opens in Alberta, in Canada’s centennial year, 1967, and concludes by circling back to the same year. In a few hundred words of the opening paragraph, all the following are invoked: prairie light, prairie wildlife, First Nations, divinity and spirit, the ancient landscape of the mountains, modern agriculture and the oil industry, and the prairie wind that sweeps from the prairie sky against the isolated habitations.

The architecture of the unusual form is fascinating and highly effective, and the realism of the depictions of men’s and women’s faults serves to underscore and make great the strengths that they support. The basis of the architecture is given early in the text, and is that “… map we all begin with, filled with faith and doubt and error and fear, and with that imperfect document, … sail away.”

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