A wolf’s howl is felt in the body. Frightening and compelling, incomprehensible or entirely knowable, it is a sound that may be heard as threat or invitation but leaves no listener unaffected.
Toothsome fiends, interfering pests, or creatures wild and free, wolves have been at the heart of Canada’s national story since long before Confederation. Villain, Vermin, Icon, Kin contends that the role in which wolves have been cast – monster or hero – has changed dramatically through time. Exploring the social history of wolves in Canada, Stephanie Rutherford weaves an innovative tapestry from the varied threads of historical and contemporary texts, ideas, and practices in human-wolf relations, from provincial bounties to Farley Mowat’s iconic Never Cry Wolf. These examples reveal that Canada was made, in part, through relationships with nonhuman animals.
Wolves have always captured the human imagination. In sketching out the connections people have had with wolves at different times, Villain, Vermin, Icon, Kin offers a model for more ethical ways of interacting with animals in the face of a global biodiversity crisis.
Stephanie Rutherford is associate professor in the School of the Environment at Trent University.