I am also reading the True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, wow this is a mighty hefty novel as heavy as a sirloin steak. What I find intriguing about this novel is that not much has changed, albeit the novel is set in Australia but the circumstances of the poor are pretty appear pretty much the same as they do for the Canadian immigrants. Apparently Australia was the only penal colony although according to some BC came pretty close to being one. so who came to BC all the farmers or all the Scottish? The despicable thing of getting innocent people to populate a land and shove out who was there in the first place, Carey does a good job of making this displacement an “adjectival” mess. I feel that we as colonists haven’t really moved away from that mess, cops and robbers games are still being played out here in BC and who does the “adjectival” land belong to anyway. In the book I think there is a reference to immigrants as being transported. The other issue I find intriguing is that of ‘what you bring with you’ what works in the new land. In Carey’s book Ellen Kelly refers to St Bridget as having abandoned them as they cannot get the cows to milk.
When I think of settlers I am also reminded of a painting I came across in the National Art Galley of Canada, The painting is called ‘The Ice Harvest; by Maurice Cullen. I found the painting haunting and the idea of harvesting ice led me to think it must have been horrible for people to do in the cold, cold winter. The narrative of the landscape is survival in these conditions and how did the newcomers survive. Every skill the new immigrants learnt is a copy of first nations/aborginal/the people who were there before/native practice.
The Ice Harvest by Maurice Cullen 1913