Canadian Landscape/Le Paysage Canadien


"A lovely volume whose simplicity and elegance accentuate rather than overshadow this visual introduction to the beauty of Canada."

A flash of lightning explodes across a summer sky; a sudden winter storm descends on an otherwise tranquil coastal bay; in a moment of absolute stillness, the surface of a mirror-like lake reflects the world around it.

The Canadian Landscape is a collection of more ...

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"A lovely volume whose simplicity and elegance accentuate rather than overshadow this visual introduction to the beauty of Canada."

A flash of lightning explodes across a summer sky; a sudden winter storm descends on an otherwise tranquil coastal bay; in a moment of absolute stillness, the surface of a mirror-like lake reflects the world around it.

The Canadian Landscape is a collection of more than 125 sweeping images by internationally acclaimed photographer J.A. Kraulis. Each stunning picture tells the tale of a vast country and of a photographer's relationship with it. The text consists of a concise introduction and short, descriptive captions that accompany each photograph.

The book is organized east to west by region, covering:

  • The Atlantic and sub
    Arctic regions
  • The St. Lawrence and Great Lakes regions
  • The Prairies
  • The Rocky Mountains
  • The West coast rainforests and the Pacific Ocean.

The photographs capture a range of views and portray vast, uninhabited vistas of exceptional grandeur.

The bilingual text and captions are in English and French.

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Editorial Reviews

Canadian Camera
A beautifully illustrated book of pictures which serve to show a photographer's relationship with the subject, and will inspire.
Globe and Mail
Catch[es] geography and the elements at the instant they are extraordinary ... [an] exquisite portfolio of 150 photographs.
Vancouver Province
J.A. Kraulis is to Canadian photography what the Group of Seven was to Canadian landscape painting ... After leafing through this lush book, all I can say is, 'Oh, Canada!'
Kraulis's 150 portraits would be stunning in any event; infused with the photographer's sense of onrushing time, they're magical.
Shutterbug - C.A. Boylan
Truly a thing of beauty, this book is sure to become an instant treasure ... A copy of this book would be a wonderful addition to your library and an inspiration to your soul.
Kraulis has compiled a lovely volume whose simplicity and elegance accentuates rather than overshadows this visual introduction to the beauty of Canada.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781552979891
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 1/19/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

J.A. Kraulis is among Canada's most prolific and talented photographers. His work has appeared in many books and national magazines, including Audubon, Canadian Geographic and Equinox.

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Perhaps it is just my imagination. But if I were blindfolded and transported across many time zones to a place I didn't recognize, I believe I would know whether I was in Canada or not. There might be clues in the air: in the scent of spruce; in a breeze off cool water, fresh or salty; or in a north wind, the breath of winter in waiting. The hints might be more subtle and profound: in the lay of the land, pressed into the stone beneath it all. Maybe it would be just an intuition, some resonance between the place and the obscure blended experience that is one's subconscious.

Certainly, there are places in other countries that could fool me. Nevertheless, whether one can see it, smell it or sense it in some ineffable way, there is a distinct "Canadian landscape." It is not something in the imagination -- it is as firm and real as bare bedrock.

There is not, in the same way, an "American landscape"; rather, there are many. For example, apart from the fact that they exist on the same continental plate, nothing physically connects Mount Saint Helens with the Great Smoky Mountains, or the Grand Canyon with the Everglades. By contrast, Canada has as great a diversity of physical features, but most, in some way or another, bear the same single, forceful imprint. Nearly all were moulded by the glacial might of the ice ages. With the exception of a few small pockets and strips and a portion of northern Yukon, the entire landscape of the second largest country in the world emerged out of the icecap of a northern Antarctica, in the geological equivalent of a single moment in time. Culturally, the United States has been described as a melting pot, Canada as amosaic. In their physical geography, the exact opposite is true.

The landlocked freshwater "fjords" of Gros Morne and the saltwater fjords of British Columbia; the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Fraser Valley; Niagara Falls and the Bay of Fundy; the potholes of the prairies and the string bogs of Labrador and northern Quebec; cliffs on Baffin Island and cliffs along the Saguenay River; Lake Superior and Great Bear Lake -- all of these and many more are united through a common birth.

No place has prompted me to contemplate this more than the Thirty Thousand Islands of Georgian Bay, the largest freshwater archipelago on Earth and one of the finest places anywhere for exploring by sea kayak. They are a small part, pepper flakes really, of the North American craton, the original continent before the rest was all cobbled together in the course of various tectonic collisions. This is the Precambrian Shield, most of which is in Canada and which spans such a large portion of the country that it is also known as the Canadian Shield. The rock is unimaginably old, formed one to two billion years ago on an alien Earth, when the planet had no life on land and very little oxygen in the atmosphere. But the landscape itself is unbelievably young -- 100,000 times younger than the granite out of which it is built.

Here, you can almost taste and feel the last Ice Age. Centuries of rain and snow have diluted the original Great Lakes by half, many times over, but as water mixes with water thoroughly, every cup dipped into Georgian Bay would contain, in some small part, meltwater from the ice that created it. Meanwhile, the shores of smooth, glacier-polished stone are rising underfoot -- several centimetres during a human lifetime -- as the land measurably rebounds from an immense and recent burden.

From the air, the same geography presents an endless maze of fragments of land and channels of water, and one can well appreciate that the name "Thirty Thousand Islands" is, in fact, a serious understatement. Counting the smallest islands, there are three times as many. Once, while flying over the area, I wondered what it would have been like to witness the same scene during the last Ice Age. It was a shock to realize that from our 2,000-foot height, my pilot and I would have been able to see nothing. Four-fifths of the thickness, of the icecap would have still been above us.

That much I could comprehend, for a similar depth and extent of ice remains today over the South Pole. It is not so much the space occupied by the last Ice Age that challenged my sense and reason but its place in time. We were in the midst of a photo flight from Victoria to Newfoundland, a journey of several days in our single-engine aircraft, and one, of those time-converted-to-distance scales came to mind. Assuming that we would have to complete the entire trip across the country in order to go back in time far enough to see a T Rex, how far, by comparison, would we have to fly to see the last continental ice sheets? The calculated answer was startling: We would slam into the Ice Age before clearing the end of the runway at our journey's very beginning.

Measured another way, imagine one year compressed into one second. By that formula, the dinosaurs became extinct more than two years ago, but the last Pleistocene advance reached its maximum extent only five hours ago, and less than two hours ago, a large remnant of the Laurentide Ice Sheet still covered northern Quebec.

In real time, the last Ice Age peaked a mere 18,000 years ago, at about the same time the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, were created. Thus there exist drawings that are significantly older than Prince Edward Island, older than the vast boreal forest, older than all the three million lakes spattered across the length and breadth of Canada, nearly every single one in a basin of glacial origin.

We have been making drawings since before written history, the better to grasp all our varied domains. Later, with maps, we began to draw entire countries, measured but unseen, until photographs from space showed us the real counterparts of these abstract outlines of the land. It would not be difficult to imagine a different chronology for civilization, to imagine spacecraft photographing the contours of the continents just 18,000 years earlier instead of now.

The "bottom" half of North America would appear then much the same as it does today, with only a slightly different coastline in low areas like Florida because of lower sea levels. But there would be no recognizable Canada. The view from space would show nothing of Hudson Bay, none of the familiar profiles of Quebec or Atlantic Canada, no Arctic Archipelago, no Great Lakes coastline, no British Columbia coast ragged with its islands in a web of inlets and passages. There would be no lakes, no forests, no grasslands, very little arctic tundra and only the tops of the highest mountains in an otherwise vast, featureless plain of pure white, the thin coating of snow on accumulated ice up to several kilometres thick.

Moreover, the edges of the ice sheets would be seen to approximate the present-day political border between Canada and the United States, running very close to the 49th latitude from the Pacific to North Dakota, reaching farther below the boundary south of the Great Lakes but staying roughly parallel to the outline of southern Ontario and turning north again. The ice sheets wouldn't even cross the Alaska-Yukon line for much of its length; the view from space would show most of Alaska, largely the northern two-thirds, as ice-free.

In North America, the geography that emerged out of the Ice Age and the geography of Canada are, for the most part, one and the same. Before there was a Canada, there was a "Canadian landscape." And long after the political borders of all present-day nations have changed and the languages we now speak are extinct, there will still be a "Canadian landscape."

It is only through science of the most recent kind that we have come to understand the true origins of landscapes. But knowledge changes perception, and when I travel and photograph across Canada, I cannot help reflecting upon the way it once was, not so long ago. The icecap would have been awe-inspiring in its vastness and simplicity: on the ground, pure white, without even the wrinkles of an ocean; in the sky, blue silence. And that was all, for spans of thousands of kilometres.

Now, the icefields and glaciers that remain occupy only a few high corners of a land rich with life and vivid with colour: the deep green of rainforest on Vancouver island; the intense yellow and the pastel blue of prairie quarter sections planted with canola and flax; the red and orange of autumn maples in Quebec and Ontario. In the scale of geological time, all emerged with such breathtaking suddenness. Another time comparison comes to mind: If the 4.5-billion-year history of Earth were condensed into a single 24-hour day, then the last ice sheets began to melt and the Canadian landscape appeared all within the last one-third of a second. From Antarctica to Eden, in the blink of an eye.

J.A. Kraulis, Summer 2001

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