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[book cover] Man Proposes, God Disposes

  Audio Book

Listen to an excerpt of the e-Audio book of Man Proposes, God Disposes by Pierre Maturié that we are producing in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for the Blind. Beautifully read by Gerry Glinski.

Look for the complete e-Audio book soon!

Sample chapter



About the Book

"From the edge of the plateau there was a splendid view: the Athabasca, flowing from the east, made a great curve in front of us and carried on towards the village. … At the moment we stopped, we could see lines of ten or fifteen sledges gliding on the trail made in the ice on the river. The view was so panoramic both to our right and our left, and also over the undulations descending towards the bank, that we took the decision right there and then to plant our flag on the spot, like explorers in an unknown land and to build our house there."

In 1910, young Pierre Maturié bid farewell to his comfortable bourgeois existence in rural France and travelled to northern Alberta in search of independence, adventure, and newfound prosperity. Some sixty years later, he wrote of the four years he spent in Canada before he returned to France in 1914 to fight in the First World War. Like that of so many youthful pioneers, his story is one of adventure and hardship—perilous journeys, railroad construction in the Rockies, panning for gold in swift-flowing streams, transporting goods for the Hudson's Bay Company along the Athabasca River. Blessed with the rare gift of a natural storyteller, Maturié conveys his abiding nostalgia for a country he loved deeply yet ultimately had to abandon.

Maturié's memoir, Man Proposes, God Disposes, appeared in France in 1972, to a warm reception. Now, in the deft and marvellously empathetic translation of Vivien Bosley, it is at long last available in English. As a portrait of pioneer life in northern Alberta, as a window onto the French experience in Canada, and, above all, as an irresistible story—it will continue to find a place in the hearts of readers for years to come.


Man Proposes, God Disposes was acknowledged with an honourable mention by the Canadian Authors Association (Alberta Branch) at the recent Exporting Alberta Award presentations. What follows are the judges’ comments on the book:?

Man Proposes, God Disposes?paints the settling of francophone?Alberta. Against the clear colours of the prairie sky, as heartbreakingly blue as horses drowning in an ice-broken river, and as piercing as “the Northern Lights, their banners flaring”, the slow-paced story of a young French pioneer unfolds against the implacable background of wildness as the narrator questions the nature of human progress, as always “motivated by interest and the thought of profit”.

Man Proposes, God Disposes offers a close-up look at pioneer life in?Alberta?in the early twentieth century. The foreword to this new translation provides an overview of francophone settlement in the prairies that is clear and comprehensive. The memoir itself focusses on the narrator's personal experiences and finances, but the author's engaging personality comes through.

Man Proposes, God Disposes is a delightful translation of Pierre Maturie's recollections of traveling to and settling?in rural?Alberta?before WW1. Written in simple but poignant chapters, the narrative recounts a journey full of warmth,?challenges, triumphs and sorrows in which victory over the land comes at a difficult price.


About the Translator

Vivien Bosley is a professor emeritus of French at the University of Alberta. Her translations from the French range from seventeenth-century feminism to Canadian political biography.



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Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.


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Select a Chapter

DownloadFront Matter

DownloadTable of Contents

Gilles Cadrin and Vivien Bosley

DownloadTranslator’s Acknowledgements

Robert Wardhaugh

DownloadMan Proposes, God Disposes

Gilles Cadrin

DownloadPreface to the Original French Edition (1972)
Robert Margerit