For details, go to
New Star Books.


For the early European arrivals to the New World, wild nature was compelling. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century travellers and immigrants to Canada, in their first encounters with exotic animals, were mesmerized by what they saw. Their experiences of “hedgehogs” (porcupines), “lowing frogs” (bullfrogs) and “sea cows” (walruses) prompted a literature of discovery that is alternately startling, cruel, comic and adulatory. 

In six essays, What Species of Creatures illuminates these animal accounts. Period quotes contribute to the banter of an idiosyncratic narrator who is acquainted, too, with twenty-first–century science. Historical personalities at large in the six chapters roam the landscapes of Acadia, New France and Rupert’s Land, their adventures conveyed through extended anecdote. The book borrows, as well, from vivid traditions of animal writing—the fable, children’s stories, classifications by naturalists, and even merchandise lists compiled by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Although rich in historical detail, What Species of Creatures reflects present concerns, challenging us to consider our own place in the hierarchy of beasts. It probes our seemingly insatiable appetite to trap, catch, skin, domesticate, eat, eradicate or otherwise bend to our use the animals in our midst.

What critics are saying about What Species of Creatures:

"Can't say enough about it. I'm not even halfway through, but couldn't wait to recommend it."

—Terry Glavin

TRANSMONTANUS BLOG, JANUARY 30, 2009


"A lively—and deadly—chronicle of first encounters between the New World's early settlers and this continent's lesser beasts. Seldom has scholarship been served up with such delectable charm and saucy wit. An original—I loved every page."

—Sylvia Fraser, writer


"The time Kirsch spent with primary sources is demonstrated . . . in her revealing and often humorous citations."

THE BEAVER, JUNE/JULY 2009


"The author's own background as an accomplished travel writer, coupled with an irrepressible wit, brightens the pages and delights the reader time and again . . . a new, forgiving, and creative way to look at the human-animal adventure. It's bound to make you smile."

—B.L. Anderson
THE ARK
JOURNAL (U.K.), SUMMER 2009


" . . . tightly argued and beautifully written. . . . Often adopting the perspective of the animal, Kirsch casts an unusual, extremely perceptive light, somehow redolent of Enlightenment's sharpness and lucidity, on the settlers' life and customs."

—F. Fasce, University of Genoa, Italy
ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA 2010 45 (1)


"Intriguing . . . an incisive, passionate challenge to us to re-examine our relationships with the other animals, who (yes, who) maintain their precarious existences alongside the juggernaut of humanity."

—Dania Sheldon
VANCOUVER REVIEW, SPRING 2009


"A writer doing a strain of cultural anthropology she may have invented all on her own. . . . There's something remarkable and unsettling going on here. . . . The result is fascinating and informative. . . . tremendous fun to read."

—Brian Fawcett
DOONEYSCAFE.COM, MARCH 22, 2009


"Kirsch's research includes a deep collection of primary sources and a reinterpretation of some traditional documents in early Canadian history that sheds new light on human-animal relations during this period."

—Sean Kheraj, Department of History, University of British Columbia
H-ANIMAL, JULY 2010


"This book is like no other I know, an imaginative assemblage of intriguing material on human and animal lives, woven together seamlessly to create mysterious tales. Sharon Kirsch has produced a unique, scholarly, and engaging chronicle of the early encounters between Europeans and the New World animals."

—Lynette Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis
ANTHROZOÖS, JOURNAL OF HUMAN-ANIMAL RELATIONS, SPRING 2010


"A magical treasure. . . . Kirsch fills our minds and imaginations with the creatures that fascinated Canada's early settlers. She encourages us to slow down to appreciate the magical in the seemingly mundane, the new in the old, and the extraordinary in the ordinary."

—Carla Atherton
CAHOOTSMAGAZINE.COM, FALL 2009


What Species of Creatures is recommended by Canada's National History Society and CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup Christmas Reading List 2009.

 


Excerpts

Excerpts from What Species of Creatures: Animal Relations from the New World:

On Hibernation
On Migration



NiCHE Podcast Interview:
Nature's Past: Episode 11