Professor Macmillan has placed all lovers of fairy tales under a deep debt of obligation to him. The fairy tale makes a universal appeal both to old and young; to the young because it is the natural world in which their fancy delights to range, and to the old because they are conscious again of the spirit of youth as they read such tales to their children and grandchildren over and over again, and rejoice in the illusion that after all there is not a great difference of age which separates the generations.
The fairy tale makes this universal appeal because it deals with the elemental in our natures that is the same in every age and in every race. In the Canadian Tales which Professor Macmillan has so admirably gathered from Indian sources, we find the same types of character and scenes of adventure that we do in the tales of the German forests, of Scandinavia, England or France.
There is in us all an instinctive admiration for the adventurous spirit of the fairy tale which challenges the might that is cruel and devastating, and for the good offices of the fairies which help to vindicate the cause of the noble in its conflict with the ignoble, right with wrong.
The origin of the fairy tale is to be traced always to the early stages of civilization, and it is very gratifying to be assured from time to time that man possesses certain natural impulses which spring from an inherent sense of honour, and the desire to redress the wrongs of the world.
Professor Macmillan has been successful in presenting the Indian folk-lore in a most engaging manner. The stories have all the delightful charm and mystery of the Canadian forests; they have penetrated into the heart of nature, but also into the heart of man.
JOHN GRIER HIBBEN.
The tales in this collection, like those in "Canadian Wonder Tales," were gathered in various parts of Canada—by river and lake and ocean where sailors and fishermen still watch the stars; in forest clearings where lumbermen yet retain some remnant of the old vanished voyageur life and where Indians still barter for their furs; in remote country places where women spin while they speak with reverence of their fathers' days. The skeleton of each story has been left for the most part unchanged, although the language naturally differs somewhat from that of the story-tellers from whose lips the writer heard them.
It is too often forgotten that long before the time of Arthur and his Round Table these tales were known and treasured by the early inhabitants of our land. However much they may have changed in the oral passing from generation to generation the germ of the story goes back to very early days beyond the dawn of Canadian history. Canada is rich in this ancient lore. The effort to save it from oblivion needs no apology. Fairy literature has an important place in the development of the child mind, and there is no better fairy lore than that of our own country. Through the eyes of the Indian story-teller and the Indian dreamer, inheriting his tales from a romantic past, we can still look through "magic casements opening on the foam of perilous seas in fairy lands forlorn"; we can still feel something of the atmosphere of that mysterious past in which our ancestors dwelt and laboured. The author's sincerest hope in publishing this volume is that to the children of to-day the traditions of our romantic Canadian past will not be lost in our practical Canadian present.
Notes: Contains 26 Native American folktales gathered from Canada.
Author: Cyrus Macmillan
Publisher: S. B. Gundy, Toronto; John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd., London