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Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country
A Facsimile Edition & Translation of a Prayer Book in Cree Syllabics by Father Émile Grouard, OMI, Prepared and Printed at Lac La Biche in 1883 with an Introduction by Patricia Demers
Translator Patricia Demers, Naomi L. McIlwraith, Dorothy Thunder
Foreword Arok Wolvengrey
Introduction Patricia Demers
A signal event in the move from oral to print culture for the Cree was Father Grouard's prayer book, written in Syllabics and printed in 1883. More than a century later, Demers, McIlwraith, and Thunder reproduce the text, along with a direct English translation, a transliteration into the Standard Roman Orthography now in use as well as in nineteenth-century SRO. Demers offers an introduction to the work within its cultural framework; the translators together discuss Grouard’s use of Cree Syllabics, which illuminates the difficulties this missionary-pioneer faced in transferring the nuances of one language to another in which he was an ardent learner. Cree history scholars, linguists, and anyone interested in print history would be well served by adding this influential work to their library.
Format:  Printed Dust Jacket
ISBN:  978-0-88864-515-9
Price:  CND$ 100, USD$ 100, £ 83.5
Discount:  Trade
Subject:  Canadian History/Native Studies
Publication Date:  June 2010
2011 Book Publishers Association of Alberta
Alberta Book Awards, Scholarly and Academic Book Award
"[Grouard's] arrival at Lac La Biche in 1876 marks the beginning of the important linguistic, cultural, religious and bibliographic moment delineated in rich detail by this critical edition of one of Grouard’s major liturgical publications.... The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country opens important new dimensions for study for modern scholars of mission, linguists, and Cree-language students. Historians of the Canadian Northwest are deeply indebted to these scholars and their Cree Elder collaborators for their work...”
Richard Mammana, Anglicans Online, September 10, 2012 [Full review at http://bit.ly/TTVhzq]
“The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country is . . . a pioneer endeavour in two senses: not only does it open wide a previously under-explored chapter in Canadian print history, but it does so by interpreting a species of text uniquely representative of its time and place of origin.”
Eli MacLaren and Pascale Ryan, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Spring 2011)
“Perhaps the best way to see this restored book is as a collaboration, a conversation between cultures, the matrix on which the province was formed. Think of the epic journey these sacred, powerful words have made -- from their original ancient Hebrew and Greek, to Medieval Latin, to 19th century French, to Cree, old and new, and now to English.”
Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal
“Demers, McIlwraith, and Thunder have openly noted the various cultural glasses we look through today, and warned us that, while we know some things of that moment and place, we should not assume that we know everything that transpired. Indeed the moment itself may well have been conflicted in its way of seeing itself.”
Earle Waugh, Equinox Press
“This book is a unique contribution to sociocultural history and to Aboriginal language studies. It introduces the reader to a forgotten document and calls attention to an often neglected dimension of early missionary work—its attention to language…. The authors, having positioned themselves at the interface of oral culture and textual representation, engage in a cultural linguistic analysis of the challenges they encountered in the process of transcription, transliteration, and translation. This book represents a major milestone in Aboriginal studies.”
Rosa Bruno-Jofré, Catholic Historical Review, January 2012
"Compared to its eastern equivalents, the history of printing in the Canadian Northwest has garnered meagre critical attention. This is a pity, since its inception promises to be as interesting to linguists and cultural historians as to bibliographers and textual scholars. The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country is, therefore, a pioneer endeavour in two senses: not only does it open wide a previously under-explored chapter in Canadian print history, but it does so by interpreting a species of text uniquely representative of its time and place of origin.... Its author--Father Émile Grouard--is as much an object of the translators' interest as the text itself, for it is in the life of this 'forgotten pioneer of print culture' (xv) that we witness an extraordinary confluence of European and Aboriginal thought.... The result is a uniquely hybrid text: a prayer book whose fundamentally Western modes of teaching and thought are shaped by the linguistic parameters of Aboriginal speech.... By offering these multiple avenues into the text, the book provide readers with a unique opportunity to examine the transformations and subtle shifts of meaning that occur at the 'interface of oral culture and textual representation' (445).”
Sarah Mead-Willis, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, Spring 2011
"The judges felt [The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country] was an important undertaking. The volume opens up history in an accessible yet rigorous way. Given the highly specialized content, the publisher took a risk to ensure that the material was well presented; the choice to use print (rather than digital publication) demonstrates a commitment to high-quality scholarship and dissemination. The physical book was thoughtfully produced: the various texts are clear and cleanly presented, and the translation and transliterations will help readers appreciate the subject and context of Alberta's early print culture. This is an all-around excellent book, worthy of this award.”
Winner of Scholarly and Academic Book Award, 2011 Alberta Book Publishing Awards Jury Comments
"This volume contains a facsimile of a prayer book written in Cree syllabics by Father Emile Grouard and originally printed in 1883.... The syllabics are translated both into Cree and English, and include discussions of the problems encountered by the priest in preparing the book.”
Alberta History, Autumn 2010

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