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A Biography of an Urban Place


272 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket

Trade Paper, $20.00 (US $20.00)

Publication Date: July 2017

ISBN 9781928088288

Rights: US

Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd (Jul 2017)


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Shortlisted: 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction How can you truly belong to a place? What does being at home mean in a society that has always celebrated the search for greener pastures? And can a newcomer ever acquire the deep understanding of the land that comes from being part of a culture that has lived there for centuries?  When Daniel Coleman came to Hamilton to take a position at McMaster University, he began to ask himself these kinds of questions, and Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place is his answer. In this exploration of his garden – which Coleman deftly situates in the complicated history of Cootes Paradise, off of Hamilton Harbour – the author pays close attention to his small plot of land sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment. Coleman chronicles enchanting omnivorous deer, the secret life of water and the ongoing tension between human needs and the environment. These, along with his careful attention to the perspectives and history of the Six Nations, create a beguiling portrait of a beloved space.


"In [Yardwork], paying close attention to the ground we stand on becomes a spiritual act. He reminds readers too that the more we focus in on a small space, the bigger it grows – and the more it can tell us about the larger world, the global network of which the one small place and all of its inhabitants are a part. The book will encourage all readers to engage in this kind of intensive 'Place Thought' as a way to connect with the natural world to which they belong." —Angie Abdou, Hamilton Review of Books

"Calling the modern world a culture of distraction, Coleman['s] . . . In Bed with the Word is a fine and highly recommended piece of social issues writing." —Bookwatch ON In Bed with the Word

"An intelligent and nuanced look at the missionary experience, layered with sharp insight and poignant reflection . . . a frank commentary on cultural dynamics." —Edmonton Journal on The Scent of Eucalyptus

"Daniel Coleman's White Civility . . . illuminates not only English- Canadian literature and history, but also the psychology of the thinkers and shapers of English-Canadian culture and governance." —The Chronicle Herald on White Civility

Author Biography

Daniel Coleman was born and raised the child of Canadian missionary parents in Ethiopia, an experience he has written about in The Scent of Eucalyptus: A Missionary Childhood in Ethiopia. He moved to the Canadian prairies in the 1980s and completed his PhD in Canadian Literature at the University of Alberta in 1995. He went on to publish scholarly books on Canadian immigrant writing and on how Canada became a white, British place. Since 1997, he has lived in Hamilton, Ontario, where he teaches Canadian Literature at McMaster University.