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Volume 38, Number 1 (2013)

“Off to one side of the curve”: Perpetual Expedition and Regional Identity in M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time

February 28, 2014


M. Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time (1961) has recently received increased critical attention as a “minor” or “unlikely” West Coast classic. Celebrations of the memoir’s portrayal of one woman’s unique and path-breaking experiences voyaging up and down the coastline, however, ignore the ways in which the novel misappropriates First Nations histories and cultures in order to present British Columbia’s coastal wilderness as locked in a permanent phase of discoverability. Commentators on the text, such as Timothy Egan, Cathy Converse, and Nancy Pagh, contribute to a dangerously misleading conception of British Columbia regionalism by conflating Blanchet’s personal experiences with the characteristics of a larger, historically varied, and socially diverse region. In doing so, they ignore more ethically responsible understandings of the region articulated by Laurie Ricou and William G. Robbins, and verge on taking a living history of Euro-Canadian possession and misappropriation as normative.