By W. H. New
This article strains the various ways that border metaphors pervade Canadian realization. It addresses various social matters corresponding to separatism, marginalization, multiculturalism, colonial attitudes, nationwide guidelines, language and the impact of the USA.
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Extra resources for Borderlands: How We Talk About Canada
In Hodgins's 1995 novel The Macken Charm, moreover - which tells of the last summer in a young man's island life, before he heads away from home, away to university, away to the city, the mainland, a career, and the world - sailing across the water is like stepping blindly into midair (293). Asking for a separate future is crazy (Rusty Macken cannot cut himself off from his family past, or from the world the family members have exaggerated into reality); but not asking for the future is to permit the reach of fear to deny the reality of private dreaming.
The difference between these two positions none the less spells out more than a disparity of place and time. It emphasizes, further, the privileging of unfettered individualism in the American case, and of community-centredness in that of Canada. Phrased another way, it suggests the difference between American revolutionary idealism and Canadian evolutionary political pragmatism - though, inevitably, the configuration of reality is far more complex than the theoretical picture that this binary division conveys.
Yet borders are more than expanses and lines. Marshall McLuhan calls them 'intervals] of resonance' (226). And in ordinary Canadian speech, the word 'border' resonates to mean primarily one thing: the crossing-point to the continental USA. In an editorial I wrote for the journal Canadian Literature in 1995, I reflected briefly on just this point: Before I knew about the absurdity of American gun laws and inadequate health care I knew about the border. It cut a wide swath through the bush, between Tsawwassen on the Canadian side and Point Roberts on the American, and we could reach the western end of it by walking south along an agate-strewn beach.