“It seems to me that Canadian sensibility . . . is less perplexed by the question Who am I? than by some riddle as Where is here?”
– Northrop Frye
Canadians have been confronted by this riddle since the first hunters appeared on the frozen northern tundra via the Bering land bridge. The Aboriginal peoples learned to survive by charting the land and sea with stories, songs, and stones. The Europeans who followed them employed modern tools to draw their own lines, using maps as agents of exploration and conquest. Even today we try and win ownership over nature from our foothold in outer space, using satellite images to photograph and chart the Earth’s surface.
Where Is Here? Canada’s Maps and the Stories They Tell is about how, from the earliest days, we have used maps to shape our country and how, in turn, maps have shaped us. And it is about how maps are embedded with our memories, perceptions, and stories; as author Margaret Atwood has written, “maps contain the ground that contains them.”
Where Is Here? features an eclectic cast of characters: Inuit elders, hobos, a self-destructive Oblate missionary, gold-seeking seducers, a doctor turned mapmaker, a modern-day marketing guru, artists who turn maps inside out, orienteering athletes, a quirky road map collector, and a millionaire eccentric and Nazi sympathizer.
Published by Penguin Canada, 2002