At first read Paul F. Sharp’s 1955 work might look like an extension of Frederick Turner’s frontier hypothesis. Yet the intellectual turn Sharp laid out in 1955 reacted to Walter Webb’s 1931 idea about man and nature. According to Webb, man entered the environment of the American West, and then reacted accordingly. In this way environment rather than man dictated the coarse of action. Yet Sharp tested this hypothesis by considering how man entered the North American west north and south of the 49th parallel. If Webb’s earlier ideas held true, then British Canadian culture and American culture (or Anglo-American culture) would have played out quite similarly on both sides of the geo-political border. The fact remains that they did not, though, since American culture and British Canadian culture were structured in two different ways. In the American West, chaotic and localized development ruled the day. North of the 49th parallel, though, a structured British-Canadian will set the course of its western development.
My first review from December 5, 2012 was analogous to how a Canadian might have regarded Sharp — here is just another Turnerian, Frederick’s same whiskey in a different cask. Yet the closer to an object, including Sharp’s 1955 work, the more amplified the details and subtleties become. I suppose this is an excuse for anyone to reread and revisit a good novel or piece of scholarship (or a novel piece of scholarship), Sharp’s work included.