What happens when the romantic and imperialistic stories of Canada’s north become clearly outmoded and unsustainable? In North of Vinland, my collection of linked short stories and essays, I explore the transition from an older narrative mode to a newer, hybrid mode responsive to the demands of the 21st century. In the short stories, I chart the difficult progress of a floundering grad student in Labrador. While living in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, he must learn to navigate his new home, find a stoic response to his acute depression, reclaim his troubled masculinity, and repair his relationship with his fiancé, Claire. As in any quest, help arrives in the form of a guide: Virgie McLean, a former trapper who remembers the old ways of “them days” and who quietly shapes the narrator’s understanding of the Big Land. In the essays, which are interwoven with the stories, I discuss Labrador’s explorers (such as Leonidas Hubbard, Mina Benson Hubbard, and William Cabot, among others). In examining the lives and legacies of these explorers, echoes emerge between the experiences of my narrator and the explorers who preceded him. Some, like William Cabot, suggest opportunities and possibilities; others, like Dillon Wallace, should be read as cautionary examples and problematic figures from an imperialistic history. In the contrapuntal relationship between the stories and the essays, a question emerges: are the elements found in narratives of exploration and frontiers (such as The Lure of the Labrador Wild) inescapable archetypes or can they be re-imagined, subverted, and re-written? North of Vinland attempts to answer this question by deploying a hybrid, multi-genre narrative that is ironic and self-aware.
from: Bachinger, Jacob Lee (2022) North of Vinland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.