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Canada's History - - BOOKS - The Last of the Buf­falo Re­turn to the Wild edited by Har­vey Locke Sum­merthought Pub­lish­ing, 96 pages, $49.95

Har­vey Locke is trustee of the Eleanor Lux­ton His­tor­i­cal Foun­da­tion, based in Banff, Al­berta, and in The Last of the Buf

falo Re­turn to the Wild he has put to­gether an in­ter­est­ing and in­for­ma­tive se­ries of es­says. The first and largest chap­ter is writ­ten by Locke and fo­cuses on Banff Na­tional Park and its role in the con­ser­va­tion of the plains bi­son in the late eigh­teenth and early nine­teenth cen­turies. With pho­tos, il­lus­tra­tions, let­ters, and maps that out­line where the buf­falo roamed, it tells the story of the largest plains bi­son herd that emerged from those early con­ser­va­tion ef­forts.

The sec­ond chap­ter, writ­ten by Ge­orge Col­pitts, a his­tory pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Cal­gary, fo­cuses on the his­tory of the plains bi­son be­fore those con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and ex­plains why the bi­son were then so close to be­com­ing ex­tinct.

Jen­nifer Rutkair, ar­chiv­ist for the Whyte Museum of the Cana­dian Rock­ies, de­tails the preser­va­tion of the orig­i­nal The

Last of the Buf­falo book­let, pub­lished in 1908 and in­cluded here in fac­sim­ile form. The re­pro­duc­tion fea­tures pho­tos of the 1907 roundup of that largest bi­son herd.

A chap­ter writ­ten by First Na­tions ed­u­ca­tor Leroy Lit­tle Bear dis­cusses the Buf­falo Treaty of 2014 as well as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dige­nous peo­ples and the buf­falo. And the fi­nal chap­ter, writ­ten by Norman Lux­ton in 1912, is a first-per­son ac­count of his role and ac­tiv­i­ties in that 1907 roundup.

With the rein­tro­duc­tion of wild bi­son to Banff Na­tional Park in Fe­bru­ary 2017, this book of­fers a timely re­flec­tion on the ef­forts made by so many peo­ple to re­turn this mag­nif­i­cent beast to its his­toric home. — Danielle Chartier A Fluid Fron­tier: Slav­ery, Re­sis­tance, and the Un­der­ground Rail­road in the Detroit River Bor­der­land edited by Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker Wayne State Univer­sity Press, 304 pages, $55.95 In A Fluid Fron­tier: Slav­ery, Re­sis­tance and the Un­der­ground Rail­road in the Detroit River Bor­der­land, ed­i­tors Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker present es­says by both Cana­dian and Amer­i­can aca­demic and com­mu­nity his­to­ri­ans. The col­lec­tion aims to bridge the African-Amer­i­can and African-Cana­dian ex­pe­ri­ences in this transna­tional re­gion be­fore the Amer­i­can Civil War.

In thirteen es­says di­vided among five themes, A Fluid Fron­tier in­tro­duces read­ers to the peo­ple, places, and events that were in­stru­men­tal in lead­ing more than thirty thou­sand refugees to free­dom. The short, in­for­ma­tive chap­ters are easy to read, and many of them are il­lus­trated by maps and his­toric im­ages.

The ed­i­tors set out to de­bunk the myths and leg­ends of the Un­der­ground Rail­road that have been per­pet­u­ated in both Amer­i­can and Cana­dian his­to­ries. They do this by seek­ing to re­fo­cus at­ten­tion on the fact that “African peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ence of free­dom pre­dated their ar­rival in the West, fu­elled their dis­con­tent with slav­ery, and mo­ti­vated the in­ex­orable mi­gra­tions that be­came the Un­der­ground Rail­road.” — Jes­sica Knapp Mon­treal, City of Se­crets: Con­fed­er­ate Op­er­a­tions in Mon­treal dur­ing the Amer­i­can Civil War by Barry Sheehy

Baraka Books, 297 pages, $34.95 When the United States of Amer­ica went to war against it­self in 1861, it sparked a con­flict of cat­a­strophic pro­por­tions.

The north­ern states fielded more than 2.1 mil­lion sol­diers in the Amer­i­can Civil War, roughly dou­ble the num­ber of Con­fed­er­ate troops. The com­bined death toll stands at ap­prox­i­mately 620,000, but some es­ti­mates place it as high as 850,000.

As for Canada, while it was far from the bat­tle­fields ge­o­graph­i­cally, it was on the front lines when it came to the machi­na­tions that went on be­hind the scenes. The nexus of this ac­tiv­ity was Mon­treal, which played host to Con­fed­er­ate spies as well as to mil­lions of dol­lars in hard cur­rency or gold — much of it used to bankroll clan­des­tine ac­tiv­i­ties against the U.S. North.

In Mon­treal, City of Se­crets, au­thor Barry Sheehy paints a vivid portrait of a city teem­ing with spies, smug­glers, and as­sas­sins. Per­haps the most no­to­ri­ous Con­fed­er­ate ex­pat in Mon­treal was John Wilkes Booth — the man who as­sas­si­nated U.S. Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln. The book’s ap­pen­dix con­tains an es­pe­cially in­trigu­ing list of all the known Con­fed­er­ate agents and sym­pa­thiz­ers who op­er­ated in the city dur­ing the pe­riod.

Well- re­searched, with de­tailed end­notes and am­ple black-and-white pe­riod pho­tog­ra­phy, the book is a real eye-opener for those who think Canada sat idly by dur­ing Amer­ica’s blood­i­est con­flict. –– Mark Collin Reid Wit­ness to Loss: Race, Cul­pa­bil­ity, and Mem­ory in the Dis­pos­ses­sion of Ja­panese Cana­di­ans edited by Jor­dan Stanger-Ross and Pamela Sugi­man McGill-Queen’s Univer­sity Press, 318 pages, $29.95

Wit­ness to Loss re­minds us of a dif­fi­cult chap­ter in Canada’s his­tory — the dis­pos­ses­sion and in­tern­ment of Ja­panese Cana­di­ans dur­ing the Sec­ond World War — through the lens of one man and his com­plex re­la­tion­ship with the racist world of 1940s Van­cou­ver.

Ed­i­tors Jor­dan Stanger- Ross and Pamela Sugi­man present the mem­oir-in­trans­la­tion of Kishizo Kimura, who de­tails his in­volve­ment with wartime com­mit­tees that fa­cil­i­tated the co­erced sale of Ja­panese-Cana­dian fish­ing boats and prop­erty. His­toric pho­to­graphs, in­clud­ing a strik­ing shot of hun­dreds of im­pounded boats float­ing to­gether at the An­nieville Dyke, and re­pro­duced news­pa­per clip­pings bring Kimura’s mem­o­ries to life.

While his writ­ing can be stoic and tech­ni­cal at times, Kimura’s mes­sage to later gen­er­a­tions be­trays his de­sire to de­fend his ac­tions: “We swal­lowed our tears.” His was an in­ter­nal strug­gle, a care­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion with in­sti­tu­tional racism, grounded in his be­lief that his “obe­di­ence” was an act of quiet ad­vo­cacy for his com­mu­nity.

Stanger-Ross and Sugi­man — both of them univer­sity pro­fes­sors in­volved with the Land­scapes of In­jus­tice project re­gard­ing the dis­pos­ses­sion of Ja­panese Cana­di­ans — rely on the re­flec­tion and anal­y­sis of aca­demic his­to­ri­ans, some of whom also have fam­ily his­to­ries of in­tern­ment. Th­ese es­says push the dis­cus­sion be­yond sim­plis­tic bi­na­ries of right or wrong, vic­tim or col­lab­o­ra­tor. For read­ers, the ex­pe­ri­ence is il­lu­mi­nat­ing and chal­leng­ing — un­set­tling at times, but ul­ti­mately worth­while. –– Sharon Hanna The Prom­ise of Par­adise: Utopian Com­mu­ni­ties in Bri­tish Columbia by An­drew Scott

Har­bour Pub­lish­ing, 272 pages, $24.95 In The Prom­ise of Par­adise jour­nal­ist and pho­tog­ra­pher An­drew Scott dives into the his­tory of utopian Bri­tish Columbia set­tle­ments, un­pack­ing 150 years of al­ter­na­tive and ex­per­i­men­tal com­mu­ni­ties that have both flour­ished and failed on B.C. soil.

Scott out­lines the philo­soph­i­cal, eco­nomic, and re­li­gious rea­sons why so many ide­al­is­tic colonies found sanc­tu­ary on Canada’s West Coast.

One of th­ese colonies was the vi­sion of Wil­liam Dun­can, an English mis­sion­ary who dreamed of us­ing Chris­tian­ity to “el­e­vate” the First Na­tions peo­ple of Met­lakatla (near Prince Ru­pert). “By our stan­dards,” writes Scott, “Dun­can was an au­to­crat — pa­ter­nal­ist, ma­nip­u­la­tive, even cruel. But by the stan­dards of the day, he was a suc­cess.”

Edward Arthur Wilson, more pop­u­larly known as Brother XII, is an­other re­li­gious leader who at­tracted hun­dreds of fol­low­ers to the Bri­tish Columbia is­lands of De Courcy and Valdes. In the 1920s, Wilson cre­ated a re­li­gious cult known as the Aquar­ian Foun­da­tion. Scott writes that it “even­tu­ally col­lapsed in a se­ries of sen­sa­tional law­suits, amidst al­le­ga­tions of black magic, sex­ual mis­con­duct, bru­tal­ity, fraud, and theft.”

In th­ese episodes and many oth­ers, Scott in­ter­twines his per­sonal jour­ney of re­search and dis­cov­ery with the his­to­ries of th­ese com­mu­ni­ties. The sto­ries are sup­ple­mented with pho­to­graphs and hand-drawn maps that are help­ful to read­ers who are not well versed in B.C. ge­og­ra­phy.

This ex­panded sec­ond edi­tion of the book picks up where Scott left off in 1997 and looks at more re­cent co­hous­ing com­plexes and eco- vil­lages. –– Mo­riah Camp­bell

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