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Canadian Folk: Portraits of Remarkable Lives by Peter Unwin

By Peter Unwin

A joyous romp throughout the again pages of Canadian quirkiness, Canadian folks presents a clean examine the saints, sinners, oddballs, and outright nutbars who've populated the Canadian landscape.

They have been without end northbound or south; they have been inveterate walkers, or global type runners, millionaires in ill-advised Citroen half-tracks. The stressed characters who spanned these miles and who fill the pages of this ebook have been fuelled through the targets, the doubts, and the certainties in their instances, a sure bet that now turns out unfathomable to us and regularly maddening. From doomed explorers to celebrated poets of cheese, this assortment presents a desirable examine the eminent and no-so-eminent characters who got here sooner than us and left their vibrant mark on Canada's historical past.

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Sample text

The introduction of the horse by the Spanish in the eighteenth century signalled a sharp increase in tribal raiding because forays were organized to capture the prize animals of others; given the range provided by the horse, and the acquisition of firearms beginning in the late seventeenth century, male mortality increased significantly. And fewer males were another reason for polygamous marriages. The most important event in the religious life of the Plains people was the annual Sun Dance ceremony, which is also known as the Thirst Dance because participants avoid drinking.

The largest feasts were held at the time of the annual meeting of the Confederacy council and at the investiture of new leaders. Men and women also organized feasts to commemorate a variety of important personal events, and in general celebrations were a lively time of dancing, games, and eating. The most important of all Huron ceremonies was the Feast of the Dead, ten days of pomp and feasting held whenever a village changed location. Brother Sagard recorded this ceremony in great detail, though it is evident from the list of goods put into the common grave that European influence had already changed Huron life: The other neighbouring tribes are notified in order that those persons who have chosen that town to be the burying place may bring [their dead] thither, and others who wish to come out of respect may honour the festival with their presence.

Furthermore, the horse and the gun, which became an essential part of nineteenth-century Plains culture, were obtained from Europeans. Even today, it is hard to tell whether these two European elements fundamentally transformed Plains people's lives or simply intensified their older traditions. Long before they had obtained horses and firearms, the Plains people were remarkable hunters and had devised various efficient means to pursue buffalo—to the near exclusion, indeed, of the other large game abundant in the region.

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