Rethinking the Paratext: Digital Story-Mapping E. Pauline Johnson’s and Chief Joe & Mary Capilano’s Legends of Vancouver (1911)


  • Alix Shield Simon Fraser University Department of English



Squamish, Skwxwú7mesh, Coast Salish, Mohawk, paratext, decolonize, digital, story-map, digital humanities, Indigenous literature, erasure, GIS,


In the 1911 collection Legends of Vancouver, E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) presents a series of Coast Salish legends based on the oral narratives of Skwxwú7mesh Chief Joe Capilano (Sahp-luk) and his wife Mary Agnes Capilano (Lixwelut). Though in publication now for over a century, no edition of Legends has yet to acknowledge the authorial contributions of Chief Joe and Mary Capilano in the book’s shifting “paratext,” or critical framework. 

Using this collection of stories, I illustrate how the digital humanities –  specifically, web-based “story-mapping” and GIS technologies – can inform our ways of rereading twentieth-century Indigenous literatures. I focus on addressing the erasure of the Capilanos and, by extension, the Skwxwú7mesh Nation throughout Legends of Vancouver’s history of publication, using digital story-maps to recentre the narrative and to reinforce important connections between text and place. My approach simultaneously argues that scholars, publishers, and editors need to reconsider the paratext for all works of Indigenous literatures. 

Author Biography

Alix Shield, Simon Fraser University Department of English

Alix Shield is a PhD student in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC). Her research uses contemporary digital humanities methods to analyze collaboratively-authored twentieth- and twenty-first-century Indigenous literatures in Canada, and is primarily focused on E. Pauline Johnson's 1911 text Legends of Vancouver.  Alix is the recipient of a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship for her doctoral work (2016-19).






Research Note