Although Canadian writing began as an imitative colonial literature, it has steadily developed its own national characteristics. Because of the huge immigrations, first of New England Puritans from 1760 on and later of American Loyalists during the Revolution, Canadian literature followed U.S. models almost until the confederation in 1867. Before 1800 the rigors of pioneering left little time for the writing or the appreciation of literature. The only notable works were journals, such as that of Jacob Bailey, and the recorded travels of explorers, such as Henry Kelsey, Samuel Hearne, and Sir Alexander Mackenzie.
The first Canadian novelist of note was John Richardson, whose Wacousta (1832) popularized the genre of the national historical novel. With The Clockmaker (1836) T. C. Haliburton began his humorous series on Sam Slick, the Yankee peddler. Historical novelists writing c.1900 included William Kirby, author of The Golden Dog (1877), and Sir Gilbert Parker, author of The Seats of the Mighty (1896). The novels of Sara Jeannette Duncan, such as A Social Departure (1890), were noted for their satire and humor. The Rev. C. W. Gordon (Ralph Connor) produced Black Rock (1898), a series of novels on pioneer life in W Canada. Animal stories became popular in the works of Ernest Thompson Seton, Sir C. G. D. Roberts, and Margaret Marshall Saunders.
Since 1900, Canadian novels have tended toward stricter realism, but have remained predominantly regional, and many writers have been women. Among the most prominent authors have been Lucy M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables (1908); Mazo de la Roche, well known for her series on the Whiteoaks family of Jalna; Frederick P. Grove, author of Settlers of the Marsh (1925), a novel of farm life; and Laura Salverson and Nellie McClung, novelists of immigrant and rural life in W Canada.
Margaret Atwood is probably the best-known modern Canadian author. Other important novelists during and after World War II include Morley Callaghan, Gwethalyn Graham, John Buell, Hugh MacLennan, Mordecai Richler, Malcolm Lowry, Ethel Wilson, Robertson Davies, Brian Moore, Margaret Laurence, Timothy Findlay, Neil Bissoondath, and M. G. Vassanji. Many of their novels have focused attention on Canadian city life, social problems, and the large problem of Canadian cultural division.
The essayist Northrop Frye is noted for his systematic classification of literature, presented in his Anatomy of Criticism (1957). Stephen Leacock is well known for his humorous essays as well as for his scholarship. Other notable essayists include Sir Andrew Macphail, Archibald MacMechan, and Lorne Pierce.
Genuinely Canadian poetry was late in developing. In the 18th cent. Puritan hymnists, such as Henry Alline, and refugee Tory satirists, such as Jonathan Odell, took their models from American colonial or English neoclassical literature. Before the confederation of 1867 the only poets of note were Charles Sangster, the first to make use of native material, and Charles Heavysege, whose long poetic drama Saul brought him widespread acclaim.
Starting c.1880, the "confederation school"—C. G. D. Roberts, Archibald Lampman, Bliss Carman, and Duncan Campbell Scott—began producing a large body of romantic poetry, describing nature and Canadian rural life. In 1905, long after her death in 1887, Isabella V. Crawford was recognized as an important poet; she was followed by Emily Pauline Johnson and Marjorie Pickthall. Other poets of the early part of the century included Wilfred Campbell, W. H. Drummond, Francis Sherman, John McCrae, and the greatly popular Robert W. Service.
In 1926 the prolific E. J. Pratt broke away from the romantic tradition with The Titans; his highly original and powerful epics place him among the foremost Canadian poets. Notable contemporary poets in the Pratt tradition include Kenneth Leslie, Earle Birney, W. W. E. Ross, Dorothy Livesay, and Anne Marriott. Other poets sharing the modern cosmopolitan tradition of the United States and W Europe are F. R. Scott, L. A. Mackay, A. M. Klein, P. K. Page, Irving Layton, Raymond Souster, James Reaney, Margaret Avison, Phyllis Webb, Leonard Cohen, and Margaret Atwood.
See bibliography by R. E. Watters (2d ed. 1972); R. P. Baker, A History of English Canadian Literature to the Confederation (1920, repr. 1968); C. F. Klinck, ed., A Literary History of Canada (1965); A. J. M. Smith, ed., Modern Canadian Verse in English and French (1967); M. Atwood, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972); G. Woodcock, The World of Canadian Writing (1980); W. Toye, ed., The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature (1983); D. Bennett, Canadian Literary Criticism (1989).
Shaggy working dog developed in early 18th-century England and used primarily to drive sheep and cattle to market. It has a shuffling, bearlike gait and a dense, solid-coloured or white-marked gray or blue-gray coat. It stands 21–26 in. (53–66 cm) tall and weighs over 55 lb (25 kg). Its long, dense, weather-resistant coat covers the eyes but does not obscure vision. The tail is usually removed soon after birth.
Learn more about Old English sheepdog with a free trial on Britannica.com.
House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Learn more about house sparrow with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Language belonging to the Germanic languages branch of the Indo-European language family, widely spoken on six continents. The primary language of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various Caribbean and Pacific island nations, it is also an official language of India, the Philippines, and many sub-Saharan African countries. It is the second most widely spoken native language in the world, the mother tongue of more than 350 million people, the most widely taught foreign language, and the international language of science and business. English relies mainly on word order (usually subject-verb-object) to indicate relationships between words (see syntax). Written in the Latin alphabet, it is most closely related to Frisian, German, and Dutch. Its history began with the migration of the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons from Germany and Denmark to Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Norman Conquest of 1066 brought many French words into English. Greek and Latin words began to enter it in the 15th century, and Modern English is usually dated from 1500. English easily borrows words from other languages and has coined many new words to reflect advances in technology.
Learn more about English language with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Orchestral woodwind instrument, a large oboe pitched a 5th below the ordinary oboe. It has a bent metal crook, to hold the double reed, and a bulbous bell. It is a transposing instrument (its music written in a different tone than it actually sounds) in F. It is neither English nor a horn; in its original name, cor anglais, cor (“horn”) referred to its original hornlike curved shape, but the source of anglais (“English”) is a mystery. It has remained a basically orchestral instrument since its first appearance circa 1750.
Learn more about English horn with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Strait between southern England and northern France. It connects the Atlantic Ocean with the North Sea through the Strait of Dover. The French name, La Manche (“The Sleeve”), is a reference to its shape, which gradually narrows from about 112 mi (180 km) in the west to only 21 mi (34 km) in the east, between Dover, Eng., and Calais, France. Historically both a route for and a barrier to invaders of Britain, it developed into one of the world's busiest sea routes for oil tankers and ore carriers. The Channel Tunnel, completed in 1994, provides a land route between Paris and London.
Learn more about English Channel with a free trial on Britannica.com.