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The Frontier World Of Edgar Dewdey5

The Frontier World Of Edgar Dewdey

Publisher’s Notes

The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1999.

Edgar Dewdney was one of thousands of immigrants who arrived in western Canada in the late nineteenth century, intent on transforming their new homeland with their technology and institutions.  Resourceful, educated, and well connected, this native of Britain soon became a key participant in the decisions and events that shaped the evolving settler society.

n The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney, Brian Titley challenges us to reconsider the motivations and machinations of those who are remembered as our pioneer union builders.  Dewdney is portrayed as a representative of a class of immigrant-adventurers who saw in the Western Canadian frontier an opportunity for self-aggrandizement.  He viewed public office not as an end in itself but as a means to personal wealth.  This is a critical biography in which the themes of racism, imperialism, speculation, and patronage are never far from view.


“Brian Titley, a historian and professor of education at the University of Lethbridge, has written an authoritative and revealing biography of a figure that is not well known in British Columbia.  This is a stylish, edgy study: it crackles with energy, twinkles with wry humour . . . The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney is an important book, one that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of British Columbia and the prairie west.”  Patrick Dunae, BC Studies, No. 129, Spring 2001.

“Titley compiles his portrait, which is more of a public biography of Dewdney than a fully rounded biographical study, from a combination of well selected primary and secondary documents.  He combed the papers of all the major figures who were involved in the events he analyzes, and combined what they yielded with a careful and intelligent reading of secondary sources where appropriate.  No doubt his previous work on the history of First nations policy equipped him well to do this work. . .The Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney is a welcome, valuable contribution to the historical literature on the late nineteenth century, especially on the prairies.”   J.R. Miller, Saskatchewan History, Spring 2000: 55, 56.

“Dewdney’s basic principles changed little over the years, but he adapted some of them to meet changing circumstances.  In many ways, his life was ‘a metaphor for the maturing frontier,’ and Brian Titley has used it to write an entertaining and informative introduction to late-nineteenth-century western Canada.”  Patricia E. Roy, Canadian Historical Review, 18, 4, December 2000: 693-695.