This is a new critical edition of the acknowledged best Canadian novel of the 1930s. Irene Baird's "Waste Heritage" is a groundbreaking work of Canadian fiction based on the dramatic and violent labour disputes that took place in British Columbia in 1938. The story follows the progress of two friends, Matt Striker, a 23-year-old from Saskatchewan, and his simple-minded companion Eddy, as they travel from Vancouver to Victoria following the occupation of the Vancouver Post Office. Like the unemployed masses that took siege of the Post Office, Matt and Eddy yearn for relief after years of economic depression. Empathetic and tragic, "Waste Heritage" has been praised as Canada's "Grapes of Wrath" and the most important Canadian novel of the 1930s. A new critical apparatus surrounds Baird's original text, informing the reader of the historical and literary contexts of the work, as well as providing exhaustive textual analysis.
Irene Baird is one of Canada's most original and underappreciated writers. Born in England in 1919, she spent much of her life in British Columbia and Ontario, and travelled widely in Canada's north. She is the author of four novels: John (1937), Waste Heritage (1939), He Rides the Sky (1941) and Climate of Power (1971). She also worked for the National Film Board, was a journalist, and became the first woman to head a federal information service. She died in 1981. Colin Hill teaches Canadian literature at the University of Toronto. Through his bibliographic and archival research he has recovered significant lost works of Canadian fiction and shed new light on the aesthetics of Canada's prose modernists and realists.