Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Where (Margaret Laurence)

“A strange place it was, that place where the world began. A place of incredible happenings, splendours and revelations, despairs like multitudinous pits of isolated hells. A place of shadow-spookiness, inhabited by the unknowable dead. A place of jubilation and of mourning, horrible and beautiful. It was, in fact, a small prairie town.
“Where the World Began” in Heart of a Stranger

Margaret Laurence Home (Museum) in Neepawa

“I remember – I must have been in my late teens, I suppose – when I read Sinclair Ross’ novel, As for Me and My House, which was about a minister in a small prairie town; it hit me with tremendous force, because I realized for the first time that people could really write about my background.”
“Conversation with Robert Kroetsch, 1970”

‘This is my heartland,’ my friend said, simply and without embarrassment. She did not visualize herself as a wordsmith, yet when she talked about the country around Bancroft, she enabled me to see beyond the trees to the roots which exist always within the minds of humans.
“Down East” in Heart of a Stranger

“The land still draws me more than other lands. I have lived in Africa and in England, but splendid as both can be, they do not have the power to move me in the same way as, for example, that part of southern Ontario where I spent four months last summer in a cedar cabin beside a river.”
“Where the World Began” in Heart of a Stranger

[Oops, I can't find this image file: maybe it's time to make another pilgrimage! or else spending more time hunting through .jpgs]
Photo of the Laurence Home in Lakefield, Ontario, snapped on summer pilgrimage to the town some years ago.

When one thinks of the influence of a place on one’s writing, two aspects come to mind. First, the physical presence of the place itself – its geography, its appearance. Second, the people. For me, the second aspect of environment is the most important, although in everything I have written which is set in Canada, whether or not actually set in Manitoba, somewhere some of my memories of the physical appearance of the prairies come in.
“A Place to Stand On” in Heart of a Stranger

Comments are closed.