Ernest Buckler wrote poetic prose about Nova Scotia, particularly of life in its Annapolis Valley. He spent some seventy years there and lived elsewhere for only a few years in his twenties. Having taken his B.A. degree in mathematics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he took an M.A. degree in philosophy at the University of Toronto. He then worked in Toronto for the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company before returning to the Annapolis Valley in 1936, at age twenty-eight. Buckler spent the remainder of his life on a farm near Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, except for his last few years, which he passed in a rest home in Bridgetown. From his small room there he could look out on a mountain looming as significantly as the one in his first and best-known book. He described himself as a farmer who wrote, rather than as a writer who farmed.
Nevertheless, from the later 1930’s he was writing short stories, poems, and articles which were published in Esquire and such Canadian periodicals as The Atlantic Advocate, Saturday Night, and Maclean’s, as well as radio scripts for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of these short stories prefigure characters and episodes in his novel The Mountain and the Valley, which he said took him six years to write. This Bildungsroman shows the maturing of David Canaan, the sensitive observer amid a farming family whose members also have deep feelings but do not or cannot articulate them. Significant turning points in David’s development and in his relations with his parents, brother, twin sister, and friends are presented in the novel’s six main sections. Buckler’s capacity for combining realistic detail with symbolic import, expressed in rich imagery and luxuriant language, is the...
(The entire section is 736 words.)