In 1979, Eileen and John Flood founded Penumbra Press. This small, thriving
publishing house, now in Waterloo, Ontario, publishes books in tune with the
North as physical place and as space in the imagination. The company's
mandate is best understood from a catalogue in 1991 in which John Flood
"I have always claimed the north to be a state conferred upon the mind by the
imagination rather than a geographical location verified by a compass or
astrolabe. It is a state of mind subsumed by a directional pull more
universal than any instrument can measure, like the allure Mary Shelley's
monster experiences when, trekking across the frozen northland, he
metabolizes into fiery resolve to create a new light for surviving and
surpassing the old darkness of humanity."
The Northern Imagination, published by Penumbra in 1983, is a study of
northern Canadian literature. This book is listed at the end of this
catalogue as a resource book, but because of its concepts and imagination it
could well be listed at the beginning to serve as an introduction. I suggest
that teachers read this book for their own pleasure and understanding of
what the North has to offer, both as that open space in the mind and as the
physical place that it is.
Reading The Northern Imagination as foundation to the teaching units in
this catalogue can open up the teaching process to a perspective that will
make a difference in the classroom, regardless of the age level.
The teaching units suggested here are rooted in literacy as the foundation
in education. From that basis, then, the units include questions and
projects that expand learning in different areas of an integrated
Not all the books have "northern" content as such, but the teaching units
have been written with the underlying awareness that the North and its
aboriginal people have much to offer if we are willing to crack open our
shell and poke out our heads at least a little distance into "north."