Northern (genre)

The North-West Mounted Police, and later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, were often the heroes of Northern fiction
The Yukon was a common setting for Northern fiction.

The Northern is a Canadian genre in literature and film made popular by the writings of Rex Beach and Zane Grey. It is similar to the Western genre but the action occurs in the Canadian North and typically features Mounties instead of, for example, Cowboys or Sheriffs. In addition to Canada, Northern is associated with modern films or television programs that are set in Alaska. The genre was extremely popular in the inter-war years of the twentieth century.[1]

In addition to being set in Canada the stories often contrast the American Old West with the Canadian one in several ways. In films such as Pony Soldier and Saskatchewan the North-West Mounted Police display reason, compassion and a sense of fair play in their dealings with Indigenous peoples of the Americas as opposed to hotheaded American visitors (often criminals), lawmen or the American Army who seem to prefer extermination with violence.

The Western idea of lawlessness set in American towns was not a part of the Canadian Northern, though individual lawbreakers or uprisings by Canadians (Quebec), Riel, and Northwest Mounted Police. First Nation tribes or Métis featured in some depictions.

Charlie Chaplin's 1925 film The Gold Rush is a comedy that parodies some of the cliches of the Northern genre.[1]

Examples of Northerns

Folklore of Canada (Canadian oral stories)


Pulp magazines









  1. 1 2 "Chaplin's decision to have The Gold Rush take place during the 1897– 8 Klondike Gold Rush placed it squarely within the well established Northern genre, which spanned theatre, literature and film, encompassing stories about trappers, adventurers, lumberjacks, miners, Mounties, Eskimos, and others-even animals-in the Far North".Matthew Solomon, The Gold Rush, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 1137516119

External links

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