LEANNE SHAPTON pairs images from NATIVE TREES OF CANADA with passages by favorite Canadian authors

“Loose Leaves” / The New York Times / Susanna Moodie / October 29, 2010

Last fall I came across a copy of “Native Trees of Canada, Bulletin No. 61, Fifth Edition,” originally published in 1917 by the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, Forestry Branch. In its flat, monochrome survey photographs I saw a simplified version of the Canadian landscape, like the one I understood as a child. Seeing the pictures reminded me of our capacity to colorize memories, some not even our own. I made a series of paintings from the book, and afterward, whenever I read a story, any mention of a tree stood out like an old friend. It’s hard to find stories about Canada that do not include references to its trees. Here, from my bookshelf, are passages from some of my favorite Canadian authors on their leafy heritage.

After passing the rapids, the river widened into another small lake, perfectly round in form, and having in its center a tiny green island, in the midst of which stood, like a shattered monument of bygone storms, one blasted, black ash tree.

— Susanna Moodie, “Roughing It in the Bush”

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