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Man Proposes, God Disposes

Athabasca University Press | Our Lives: Diary, Memoir, and Letters

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.


"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."

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