Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meet Pauline Johnson (2/3) by Leanne Dyck

I was digging through my filing cabinet hunting down something else and came across something. This something is an essay I wrote in November 1996 for a university course I was taking. Here's hoping you enjoy it. (FYI, I resisted the urge to re-write.)

I offered the first part of this three-part post last Tuesday. You can find it here.

Today I'll offer the second part...

Pauline accomplished much in her career. She wrote scores of articles, poems, and prose for children and adults. She also wrote six books:  White Wampum, Canadian Born, Legends of Vancouver, Flint and Feather, The Shagganappi, and Moccasin Maker.

White Wampum was published in 1895 after her successful tour of England. "Those were the days of the drawing-room entertainment, and Pauline was in great demand throughout the season of 1894.' (Marcus Van Steen, p. 22- 23) 'London...spontaneously...accepted her as both the cultivated lady and the princess from the primeval forests." (Betty Keller, p. 106)

Canadian Born was published in 1903. 'This book contains poems that show Pauline's pride in her native land. Her eight years on the roads and railways of Canada had increased her love of her country.' (Brenda Willoughby, p. 34). She brought her unique entertainment to remote communities. She helped to build a unified Canada from a country separated by geography.

Legends of Vancouver was published in 1911. Critics proclaim it to be one of Pauline's most important works. The book was based on the legends of Capilano tribe of British Columbia. Pualine had befriended Chief Capilano in 1906. He and a small party of chiefs had journeyed to England when Pauline was making her second tour. The chiefs had journeyed to England determined to discuss their people's plight with the King and Queen. Pauline and Chief Capilano formed a friendship that would last until his death in 1910. 'She heard from his own lips some of the ancient legends of his people, which she started writing down... This was the first attempt to record tribal mythology of the Pacific Coast Indians.' (Marcus Van Steen, p. 32)) True to native oral traditions Pauline embellished the legends.

Flint and Feather was published in 1912 shortly after its publication Pauline died of cancer. Flint and Feather was falsely labelled as 'the complete poems of E. Pauline Johnson.' Pauline had long since retired from the stage. She was tired and took up residence in Vancouver, BC. However, her fans did not forget her. The demand for a book was great. The task of making the selections for the book fell to the ladies of the I.O.D.E.

The Shagganappi and Moccasin Maker were published in 1913 posthumously. The books were a loving tribute. The Ladies of the Press Club compiled a series of articles. The Shagganappi 'was composed of the boy's stories that (Pauline had) submitted to The Boys' World.' (Betty Keller, p. 260) Moccasin Maker was composted of 'stories that had been submitted to Mother's Magazine and included her four-part story, 'My Mother'.' (Betty Keller, p. 260)