St. Lawrence’s proximity both to Canada and to the Adirondacks and the endless recreation opportunities the region affords were immediately attractive to Ed Forbes in his search for colleges. After matriculating, he chose a first-year program that compared Canadian and American cultures. He found the course, taught by Dana Professor of Canadian Studies Robert Thacker, retired Professor of Environmental Studies Alan Schwartz and Associate Professor of Sociology Patrice LeClerc, to be a revelation.
“While having so much in common, it’s remarkable how different Canada and the United States really are,” Forbes says. “I was immediately interested in the differing stories of the two nations’ development and decided to pursue the rest of my studies at St. Lawrence to better understand the nuances of those stories.”
As a sophomore, Forbes took advantage of St. Lawrence’s opportunity to pursue both a double major and a combined major. He declared a double major of English and History and combined his History major with Canadian Studies.
“In my years as an upperclassman, I took course after course in English, History and Canadian Studies that carried my comparative education forward,” Forbes said. “Looking back at it, I might as well describe my major as North American comparative studies.”
Forbes’ academic experience at St. Lawrence culminated in his senior year when he pursued an honors thesis titled “Frederic Remington’s Canada,” in which he examined the influence of the famous artist and illustrator — who hailed from Canton — on American perceptions of Canada.
“So many Americans, when they hear any mention of Canada, immediately think of Mounties, the officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who, in their mounted patrols of Canada’s western provinces and territories at the close of the 19th century, became as iconic as America’s cavalry,” Forbes said. “Remington was one of the first, if not the first, illustrative journalists to depict the Mounties in American magazines.”
In addition to writing his thesis, for which he earned departmental honors, Forbes was also one of about 15 St. Lawrence students who traveled across Canada with Dr. Thacker on a two-week train trip that started in Toronto and included stops in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver.
“We explored historic sites, met with experts on Canadian literature and savored the regional differences in Canadian culture,” Forbes recalls. “It was a seminal moment in my St. Lawrence experience.”