The search for a distinctive Canadian literature is not new. It began in the 1820s, and even then involved many of the same issues that concern critics today. Much of this early material is now inaccessible to most Canadians. Carl Ballstadt has selected for this volume a number of the most importance statements from a century of growth. The pieces come from essays, prefaces, and editorials published between 1823 and 1926 in a variety of works including the major literary periodicals of the time. Among the authors are Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Sara Jeannette Duncan, Daniel Wilson, Goldwin Smith, G. Mercer Adam, Pelham Edgar, J.D. Robins, J.D. Logan, and Charles Mair. The major themes they treated, with frequent diversity of views, are the kind of writing best suited to a new country; the economic and spiritual barriers to the creation of literature; the feasibility of creating a ‘national’ literature; the need for serious criticism; the relationship between European traditions and the developing Canadian imagination; Canada’s ‘northern’ character; the advantages of two cultural streams; and the significance of Canadian achievements in poetry. This book provides essential background to anyone concerned with the path Canadian literature followed to modern times.