Pam Chamberlain, ’92 BA, ’96 BEd, ’03 MA
Every kid who grew up in the country has memories full of sunny days, hard times, bare feet and chores. In Country Roads, Pam Chamberlain has collected 34 of these stories, told by country kids from across Canada, including alumni authors Pamela Banting, ’90 PhD; Andrew Beattie, ’03 BA; Andrew Leitch, ’86 BA; Harvey Walker, ’65 BA, ’69 BEd, ’87 DipEd; and Rudy Wiebe, ’56 BA, ’60 MA, ’09 DLitt (Honorary).
The personal narratives in this collection form a history of rural living, from homesteads at the beginning of the 20th century to large-scale grain operations at the end.
With over three generations of rural residents and numerous different experiences, these memoirs form a common touchstone.
Whether growing up in a small town or on the farm, there is a sense of difference and separation from the world of the city. As the numbers of urban dwellers continue to climb, as more and more farmers sell their cattle and land, giving up a life that is less and less sustainable, those left in the country feel ever more keenly how distinct and precarious their way of life is. There is a sense that once you leave the country, you can never really go back. Or rather, you can go back, but it will never, and can never be the same. This loss is exactly why such a collection of stories is so important. As Shelley A. Leedahl writes in her story, “Road Trip: Why I Write About Saskatchewan,” we write about the places we are from:
Because there are still almost a million people here whose stories deserve to be told, and most will never put pen to paper… because some day someone might want to know what it was like to live in this particular part of the country, the world, the universe, at this particular point in time, and I want to be able to say, Listen, it was like this.
Erin Peters, a fourth-year English student at the U of A’s Augustana campus, grew up on an acreage in Calmar, AB.