Elizabeth Thompson develops the idea of the pioneer woman as an archetypal character firmly entrenched in Canadian fiction and the Canadian consciousness. Thompson's broad definition of the concept of pioneer can be seen to reflect the history of Canadian women, starting with the pioneers of settlement and continuing through the pioneers of spiritual perfection and psychological liberation. Various versions of the pioneer woman have appeared in English-Canadian fiction since Traill's development of the character type. Sara Jeannette Duncan's The Imperialist and Ralph Connor's The Man From Glengarry and Glengarry School Days feature pioneer women who cope not only with physical frontiers but also with those grounded in social and personal concerns. More recently, Margaret Laurence used this character type in The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, and The Diviners, with characters who inhabit internal, personal frontiers. Thompson argues that the longevity of this character type in English-Canadian fiction reveals an affinity between the pioneer woman and a common conception of the role of women in Canadian society. She suggests that the role for women proposed by the early immigrants was an appropriate choice for the Canadian frontier, regardless of the location and nature of that frontier.
"tantalizing ... I think of Carol Fairbanks' Images of Prairie Women as a book of comparable nature." Clara Thomas, Scott Library, York University.