Storied Landscapes

Ethno-Religious Identity and the Canadian Prairies


Storied Landscapes is a beautifully written, sweeping examination of the evolving identity of major ethno-religious immigrant groups in the Canadian West. Viewed through the lens of attachment to the soil and specific place, and through the eyes of both the immigrant generation and its descendants, the book compares the settlement experiences of Ukrainians, Mennonites, Icelanders, Doukhobors, Germans, Poles, Romanians, Jews, Finns, Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes. It reveals how each group’s sense of identity was shaped by a complex interplay of physical and emotional ties to land and place, and how that sense of belonging influenced, and was influenced by, relationships not only within the prairies and the Canadian nation state but also with the homeland and its extended diaspora. Through a close study of myths, symbols, commemorative traditions, and landmarks, Storied Landscapes boldly asserts the inseparability of ethnicity and religion both to defining the prairie region and to understanding the Canadian nation-building project.


“The ‘storied landscapes’ of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta demonstrate how local, regional, national, and diasporic narrations contribute to a complexity of layered and interacting identities. Well written, well referenced, and imaginatively illustrated.”

B. Osborne, Queen’s University at Kingston, Choice Magazine, May 2011

“This is an important book that throws much needed light on the complex processes underlying the relationship between people, their identity and the places they create.”

John C Lehr, University of Winnipeg, American Review of Canadian Studies

About the Author

Frances Swyripa is a professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. She is the author of Wedded to the Cause: Ukrainian-Canadian Women and Ethnic Identity, 1891-1991 and Ukrainian Canadians: A Survey of their Portrayal in English-Language Works.

Table of Contents

1: Ethno-Religious Settlement: The Canadian Prairies in Context / 2: Possessing the Land: The Secular, the Sacred, and the Dead / 3: Founding Stories and Founding Fathers: Beginnings, Place, and Belonging / 4: Region and Nation: Situating the Prairie Experience within National Narratives / 5: Outside Connections: Homelands, Diasporas, and the Forty-Ninth Parallel / 6: Wheat, Dragon Ships, and Baba: Symbols of Prairie Ethnicity / 7: Returning to the Land: Commemoration and Preservation of the Pas / 8: Pilgrimage: The Land as “Sacred Ground” and Gathering Point