has been published and will be available, along with Medical Man and Trader's Son
2019 Doors Open & Heritage Festival
in Crowsnest Pass
August Long Weekend
More info here:
COAL TOWN CULTURE: MEET THE AUTHORS
What makes a survivor?
Born in Quebec in 1850, Maggie’s life-story is one of overcoming hardships with courage and resilience. At fifteen, her family lost their wealth when her father died deeply in debt. As result of this reversal of fortune, she found herself, at seventeen, letting go of her own dreams and entering into an arranged marriage. By age twenty-four she had borne five children.
By age twenty-five, she and her children, the youngest an infant of just three months, endured an arduous trek of a thousand miles into the wilderness of northern Ontario, following her husband to his new job posting with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
For almost two decades, Maggie lived in isolation in a cabin in the vast loneliness of the north woods, where she bore five more children and fulfilled the role of an HBC Company wife. She was forced to endure the humiliation and insult of her husband’s countless liaisons with other women. Over the years of their marriage, her husband, already a domineering man, became physically abusive to the point that she began to fear for her life and the lives of the children.
At age forty-four, she and the children were uprooted again in her husband’s relentless pursuit of promotion with the Company and they made the long journey back to Quebec.
How did she survive?
AVAILABLE EARLY 2019.
I had to resign my teaching position as I am to be married and married women cannot be teachers, which seems a foolish rule to me. I received my Inspectors report today and it was very good. I have written it down here. They say they are sorry to see me go.
I must admit I am sore afraid of this step I am taking. I have been happy as an independent woman earning my own living, but until I came to live with Nell’s family, I was sometimes lonely. I hope this marriage is the right decision and not some rash and foolish thing I am doing.
I will be married at the turn of the century, which Nell says will be an adventure. T J will give me away as Pa is too ill to come to Sudbury. That makes me very sad but we will see Ma and Pa when we travel south to Montreal after the wedding. Afterwards, we will live in Dinorwic for some time. Robert will stay there as a trader with the HBC until he is accepted at Queen’s Medical School. I am somewhat apprehensive but I know now that I cannot bear to be parted from Robert. All will be well.
Robert was here again today. We went for a walk and had a lovely visit. Robert is talking of studying to be a doctor. I would be a doctor’s wife if we married. Nell would like that very much and she is encouraging him to study at Queen’s her old alma mater. I think I would like to live in Kingston, but I would miss Nell and the children and T J who is very kind to me, almost like a second father.
Robert is quite strong and handsome and seems very kind. He is quite an outdoorsman. I know Nell and Mrs. McKenzie talked about Robert’s prospects on Mrs. McKenzie’s last visit here. I think I could be happy with him but it is early days yet. I am not sure I want to leave Sudbury but Nell tells me that Robert’s people have a grand home in Montreal and his mother hopes he will go to medical school at McGill and we would live with her. I am nervous about living with her. She is quite stern in appearance, a very forceful woman.
Nell has had another baby, another girl, Aimee Margaret Scott Ryan is her name. She is beautiful and I love to hold her. The other children are happy with their new baby sister, but I think Nell and TJ would like a son. Nell has a nursemaid for baby and has gone back to her growing medical practice very quickly.
Mrs. Ross is now Mrs. McKenzie and lives in Montreal. We don’t see as much of Robert as when his mother was staying here, but he was here for a visit last Christmas. Nell tells me he wrote her a long letter and asked her to give me his best wishes.
Mrs. McKenzie is coming to visit us soon and I know Robert will be here when she comes. I have written a long letter to Ma and Pa telling them how happy I am here and how well I feel. It seems that as long as I stay warm and don’t try to do too much, my pain and fatigue are lessened.
My teaching is very successful. The trustees have renewed my contract for another year, and I still have time to be the bookkeeper for TJ and Nell. So I am busy but happy living here. I think Nell has given up presenting me with suitors which I am glad of...I know she worries that I will be an old maid but I am earning money and am quite independent which was always my goal. I think I would be quite happy living here and Nell’s children are as dear to me as any I might have.
Tea today was very interesting. Robert arrived from his Hudson’s Bay Posting in Dinorwic and met with his mother alone for some time in the parlour. Then the other children and Nell and I joined them for tea. He was pleased to see his sister and his younger brothers and they had a good visit. But sometimes he looked at me and smiled.
He is handsome and a gentleman. You can tell he is kind and he has beautiful manners. He has a very nice smile. I saw Nell watching me carefully when I looked at him. I know she likes him a great deal and has told me that he is well established as a Trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company. They provide him with good housing.
I must learn more about Dinorwic. I know it is quite far west, almost on the border with the new province of Manitoba but it is served by the rail line and is growing quickly with all the gold prospectors and settlers. It is about two days from Sudbury.
I am now teaching in Sudbury and enjoy it very much. I go home to TJ and Nell and the children each night and the cook always has a good hot meal ready for us. I have gained a little weight as Nell said it would help me deal with the cold and it does. Mind you, a warm house also helps.
Nell has asked several young men from Sudbury to come to tea on a number of occasions. She is concerned that I do not seem to be interested in any of them. They are none of them very clever and all are quite clear that they are looking for a wife to look after them and have their children and of course I would not be allowed to continue working after marriage. One fellow went so far as to say he liked me well enough but was bit worried that I had too much learning. What does he expect from a school teacher?
I have seen Mr. Black again. He is still a minister with the Anglican Church but I hear that he is going to go prospecting for gold. I suppose being paid to do the Lord’s work is not so lucrative as finding a gold mine. He has asked me if I would go walking with him on a fine day, I suppose I will decline as I do not think I want to be paid court by a gold prospector or a minister…His prospects are not very good either way. He will be going to Dinorwic as that is where the gold strikes are.
I suppose he will see Robert Ross there as he is the trader at the HBC post and has all the supplies for gold mining. On Robert’s last visit here he told T J and Nell and I that most of the gold prospectors return empty handed and empty pocketed.
I now live in Sudbury with my cousin Nell and her family. I am very happy here. I enjoy doing the books and spending time with the children. Nell is so kind to me and she works so hard. Just today she had to take the train to Naughton and then go overland and by canoe to Whitefish Lake to see how her old friend Mrs. Ross was managing. Mrs. Ross has been very ill but she is getting better now. She had 10 children in the wilds and they often come to visit Nell. The oldest are men now and have left home to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. I have met one of them several times. He is called Thomas Robert but every one calls him Robert because his father is called Thomas. He is always most courteous to me when he comes for tea. He is tall and strong and always has a gentle smile for me. I think he is handsome.