The Colony of Unrequited Dreams


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'They should have called it Old Lost Land, not Newfoundland, but Old Lost Land.' So says Charlie Smallwood of the birthplace to which he had himself contributed thirteen children. 'Thirteen', he would say, 'A luckless number for a luckless brood.' But the eldest of the thirteen was Joseph, born on Christmas Eve 1900 and fated to lead the colony out of English rule and into the arms of its giant neighbour Canada. Grandson of a bootmaker, son of an impoverished drunk, wrongly expelled schoolboy, failed journalist, would-be ...

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Nov 30, 2007

Cold Country Colonialism

Newfoundland is a Province of Canada, way out east, in the middle of the North Atlantic, a stone's throw from Ireland. Its people are eccentric and peculiar, its history similarly so. Joey Smallwood was the first Premier of Newfoundland when the rocky island joined Canada as a tenth province, rejecting independence from Britain or colonial status by popular referendum. This story should not be compelling reading, but it is. Most Americans know of Newfoundland only from Annie Proulx's "Shipping News," but here readers have an opportunity to read the "real stuff," actual Newfoundland characters put through actual historical events by a marvelous writer, in the form of a fictionalized autobiography of Joey Smallwood. Incidentally, for those interested in such things, it is also a great piece of neo- or post- colonial writing in the spirit of Naipaul, Keats, et al.

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