Canadians, like their historians, have spent too much time remembering conflicts, crises, and failures. They forgot the great, quiet continuity of life in a vast and generous land. A cautious people learns from its past; a sensible people can face its future. Canadians, on the whole, are both. 

– Desmond Morton

It’s one thing to discuss the Canadian identity. But it’s a completely other matter to stand on the rocky spine of the country and look out over a landscape literally carved with the chisels of time. The lake laps at the Canadian Shield, scraped bare of its layers by ancient masses of towering ice. The towering windswept red pine speaks of the loss of its tall, proud brothers as brush tickles its feet. The long, twisted gravel road sings under your shoes, telling stories of the many feet that have tread before you, standing together in silent, peaceful protest.  I can promise you this; the land alone can tell you many more stories than any one person. Better yet, when you interact with nature, you come to understand new things about it. When you dip your paddle into quicksilver waters, slip quietly between trees, stare up at the brilliant night sky…you get a feeling for what Canada is.

Desmond Morton explains that Canadians are far too preoccupied trying to define what it is to be Canadian that we forget to let Canada define us. Our historians spend so much time and energy digging up the dirt on the men and women and incidents that make up Canada’s past, and ignore the simple living things that make up such a complex web of history. The landscape reads like a book, if you know how to interpret it. Few Canadians or Canadian historians realize that there is much to be learned today that can tell us about the past. This simple fact, in my mind, makes Trent Professor Emeritus John Wadland one of the best Canadian Studies scholars to date.

40 years ago, Professor Wadland came to Trent asking the same question we still ask ourselves; what makes us Canadian? A new addition to the still-fledgling university, Prof. Wadland brought a fresh attitude to Canadian studies — don’t just read about Canada, live it. He endeavoured to take learning out of the classroom and onto the land, encouraging fellow faculty and students to open their eyes to a different way of understanding what is means to be Canadian. In the summer of 1972, Professors John Wadland, Bob Page, and Bruce Hodgins journeyed North to find the perfect place to showcase the true Canadian experience. Camp Wanapitei, at the time under the direction of Prof. Bruce Hodgins, offered beautiful vistas, hearty food, and tales of generations past. Located 7 hours north of Trent on the shores of Lake Temagami, Wanapitei, one of Canada’s most esteemed outripping centres, awaited them.

The next fall, thirty five students and a small team of faculty attended the first Trent Temagami Trip, starting an annual tradition that still runs today. Now organized by Prof. Stephen Hill, the Trent Temagami Colloquium is a yearly opportunity for those interested in Canada, wilderness, nature, Aboriginal history and everything in between to come together and celebrate interdisciplinary learning. The trip is the highlight of the year for many people who simply can’t pass up attending long after their time at Trent is over. This year, the 40th Annual Trent Temagami Colloquium falls September 20th – 23rd, 2012. All are welcome to come explore the land and join in academic discussion about Canada and all it is. It does not matter what department you’re in, if you’re a Trent student, or even if you’re Canadian! All are welcome to experience the land in a different way. A special invitation is extended to Trent Alumni and all international students. Please don’t miss out on a Trent tradition of kinship, adventure, and academic discourse.

The cost for the trip is $150 for students/unwaged and $200 for faculty/waged persons. This includes transportation, accommodation, and food. Registration forms and further detail can be found at www.trenttemagami.ca or on facebook by searching ‘Trent Temagami Colloquium’. The deadline to register is September 18, 2012.

If you have any questions, feel free to email myself at [email protected], or Prof. Stephen Hill at [email protected] . Hope to see you there!