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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 54 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

48

The play opens in London, where Frank and Lily are reading a pamphlet which

advertises the glorious opportunities available in Canada.49 The pamphlet boasts of

“125,000 free farms ... the easiest and richest farmland in the world. The summer is hot,

but the heat is delightfully invigorating. The winter brings a light snowfall. The cold air

is dry and not unpleasant. The general climate is drier than England ... it is a land of

peach and apple orchards, full of bubbling trout streams”. When faced with such a rosy

picture, Frank muses “I wonder why they’re giving it away?” This theme of false

advertising luring settlers into unimagined hardship recurs in several plays. If Frank’s

Utopian dreams of a new life in Canada are unrealistic, the writers of the pamphlet

contributed to his illusions for more cynical, practical, worldly, materialistic reasons of

their own.

While Frank rides the settler train to Winnipeg, he feels more and more isolated

as he learns the realities of his new country. Frank’s dreams of a farm in Canada with an

orchard and rose garden begin to fade. He writes to Lily, “I was told the lakes don’t melt

until June. I find it hard to believe that this is good country for growing peaches and

apples.” This is the first of many realities that eventually crush Frank’s pamphlet-based

dreams. He believed that British settlers were wanted in Canada. When Frank arrives in

Winnipeg, however, he finds his accent and clothes elicit disparaging remarks about

49 The Historical Atlas of Canada notes the importance to the Canadian Government of “immigrant offices across Europe and the United States to lure both rural and urban workers with visions of land ownership in the Last Best West” (Kerr and Holdsworth 30).

Or as L.W. Brockington, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the CBC, more overtly proclaimed: “North America was intended to be God’s Charity to Mankind” – an example of peace in post-war time” (CBK first broadcast 1939).

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