Picturing E. Pauline Johnson / Tekahionwake:

Illustration and the Construction of Indigenous Authorship

  • Carole Gerson Simon Fraser University
  • Alix Shield Simon Fraser University


Illustrations—both drawings and photographs—appeared in most books by E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913), Canada’s first prominent Indigenous author, from their first publication in the early twentieth century through various reprints and editions into the twenty-first. This article examines the evolution of these images as we address the choices made by her publishers with regard to moments and modes of illustration, with special attention to her two most popular volumes, Legends of Vancouver (1911) and Flint and Feather (1912). Focusing on the interior illustrations that were read along with the texts, we consider how these drawings and photographs contributed to the construction of Johnson as an Indigenous author and to the interpretation of her stories and poems by those who prepared her books, given that her publications were directed to a mainly non-Indigenous readership.

Author Biographies

Carole Gerson, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Carole Gerson (FRSC) is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. She has published extensively on Canada’s literary and cultural history with a focus on early Canadian women writers, from well-known authors such as Pauline Johnson and L.M. Montgomery to more obscure figures who can be found in her two databases: Canada’s Early Women Writers (https://cwrc.ca/project/canadas-early-women-writers) and the more inclusive Database of Canada’s Early Women Writers (https://dhil.lib.sfu.ca/doceww/). She was a member of the editorial team of the History of the Book in Canada/Histoire du livre et de l’imprimé (2007), and co-editor of volume three (1918-1980). Her co-authored book, Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) received the Klibansky Prize in 2001. In 2011, her study, Canadian Women in Print, 1750-1918, won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian criticism. In 2013, she received the Marie Tremaine medal from the Bibliographical Society of Canada. Her most recent book, co-authored with Peggy Lynn Kelly, is Hearing More Voices: English-Canadian Women in Print and on the Air, 1914-1960 (Tecumseh Press, 2020).

Alix Shield, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Alix Shield is a white settler of English and Scottish descent. She currently works as a Term Lecturer for the Department of Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University (SFU), which is located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Tsleil-Wauthuth, and Kwikwetlem First Nations. Shield completed her PhD in English at SFU in 2020; her dissertation is titled Kwaskastahsowin (“Put things to right”): Case Studies in Twentieth-Century Indigenous Women’s Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Canada. She received a SSHRC CGS Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Award (2016-2019) and was recently awarded an Emerging Open Scholarship Award by the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute (2021). Currently, she is working on republishing E. Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver—retitled Legends of the Capilano—with the University of Manitoba Press and in collaboration with descendants of the Capilano family.

How to Cite
Gerson, C., & Shield, A. (2021). Picturing E. Pauline Johnson / Tekahionwake:. Authorship, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.21825/aj.v10i1.20629