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By Gordon Aiken. 2010
Canadians took politics seriously in the years following Confederation and Gordon Aiken’s novel about pioneer Muskoka and the fledgling nation’s… capital shows why. Unique events in the Dominion’s second election, in 1872, inspired Aiken to write about Muskoka’s returning officer, Richard Bell, who refused to declare Liberal candidate A.P. Cockburn elected, even though he got the most votes. Consequent ground-breaking events included Bell’s summons to give an accounting of himself to the House of Commons, the first and only time an MP would be elected to parliament by members of the Commons itself, and reforms in Canadian election law including introduction of the secret ballot. Privately published as Returning Officer in 1982, and long since out of print, this Blue Butterfly edition is re-titled No Return. Completely reset and redesigned, with added maps and period photographs, this new edition also features J. Patrick Boyer’s afterword, "Gordon Aiken’s Quest and the Genesis of No Return." The political intrigues woven into Gordon Aiken’s rich tale of local and national affairs from 140 years ago will resonate with readers today, if its essential plots and human ambitions were simply updated by new technology and a fresh cast of characters to re-enact timeless dramas of mismatched lovers, a local judge fighting the newspaper editor, lumber barons playing both sides to keep their timber licences, and contractors changing political sides to win road jobs (or what today are termed "infrastructure projects"). Aiken, Member of Parliament for the same district a century later, wrote with deep understanding about Muskoka and its people and acute knowledge of parliamentary politics. No Return tells of one man’s struggle to support his chosen party, maintain his independence, confound his enemies, and hold his family together under duress.
By Sara Jeanette Duncan, Douglas Lochhead. 1973
After experiencing life in London, the narrator and her brother discover that they are Canadians, not colonials. Their encounters with… Englishmen and Americans demonstrate that there are three distinct countries, each with a character of its own, but sharing common interests. This is an early novel on the eternal theme of identity.
By Douglas Durkin, Peter Rider. 1974
One of the most complex experiences for Canadians was World War 1 and its attendant social upheavals. Because of the… lack of a clear description of the emotional forces of the period, historians have tended to concentrate on the political manifestations of agrarian and working class unrest. There are no well-known sources for social commentary, a lack that makes this novel important as an historical document. Originally published in 1923, The Magpie is an articulate and perceptive work which provides an accurate description of the disillusionment that developed after the war when it became apparent that many of the government's promises of social reform were not going to be fulfilled. Craig Forrester – nicknamed 'The Magpie' because of his terseness in conducting business on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange – is appalled by the greed, hypocrisy, and intolerance of the 'decent' classes and opts for persona morality and social justice. Rejecting urban life, he returns to the farm of his childhood, symbol of the traditional values of honesty and simplicity. By having his hero make this choice, Durkin adopts one of the greatest themes of Canadian literature and intellectual thought – the agrarian myth. A secondary theme, of particular interest today, is the role of women in post-war society and the evolution of moral codes. The three women in 'The Magpie's' life achieve surprising degrees of personal autonomy.
By Mary Pettit. 2012
Home child Mary Janeway runs away from her farm placement, grows into adulthood, and ultimately comes to terms with life… in Hamilton, Ontario. Sixteen-year-old Mary Janeway, a home child, is desperate to escape from her rural home child placement and flees to London, Ontario, to find a domestic position. When conditions become unbearable, she moves on, vowing never to relinquish her freedom again.After she arrives in Hamilton as a young bride, she quickly adapts to the urban conveniences and the marvels of new inventions that include electric sewing machines, sulphur matches, street stoplights, a one-horsepower Brunswick refrigerator, the advent of the zipper, and the beginning of radio. But even the latest technology can’t stop the ravages of disease and other family tragedies.Mary lives through two world wars, the Spanish Influenza, and the Great Depression. In spite of many hardships, she remains a strong, resilient woman well into her senior years and makes many contributions to Hamilton, the city she calls home.
By Douglas Lochhead, Kate Madeleine Bottomley. 1973
In Honor Edgeworth the sole and sincere motive of the authoress has been to hold up to the mass the… little picture of society, in one of its most marked phases, that she has sketched, as she watched its freaks and caprices from behind the scenes.Ottawa, in this work, is taken merely as a representative of all other fashionable cities, for the simple reason that it is better known to the writer than any other city of social repute. Her object in publishing the volume at all, if not clearly defined throughout the work, may be discovered here: it is primarily, to attract the attention of those who, if they wished, could exercise a beneficial influence over the sphere in which they live, to the moral depravities that at present are allowed so passively to float on the surface of the social tide. It would with the same word appeal to the minds and hearts of those women who are satisfied to remain slaves to the exactions of an unscrupulous society, at the sacrifice of their most womanly impulses, and their noblest energies; and would also remind some reckless sons of Ottawa, of how miserably they are contributing towards the future prosperity of their country, by adopting, as the only aim of their lives, the paltry ambition of an unworthy self-indulgence.The predominant feeling throughout the entire composition has been one of pure philanthropy, as the authoress desires to benefit her fellow-creatures, in as far as it lies in her very limited power.
By Douglas Lochhead, Lance Bilton. 1973
By Robert Barr, Douglas Lochhead. 1973
By Douglas Lochhead, Margaret A. Brown. 1973
This work cannot be fully understood unless the reader is aware of the writer's motives. The book has a twofold… meaning -- that of a political novel, and that of the portrayal of a great love and a religious drama. As Disraeli in his novels portrayed the political and social conditions of certain eras of his country, in a simple way this work is intended to portray the conditions existing in Canada at an era when the country was in a state of transition, with the idealistic conception of what the government of a country should be, the conception being based upon a knowledge of the inherent principles of Divine Right and upon Plato's Republic of Justice. The scene is laid prior to the last election during Sir John A. Macdonald's administration. There are no great questions at issue, politics are seen in their lowest form; the protective tariff had been adopted, and with the advent of machinery the old order of things was passing away; the new order had not yet brought any great issues before the people, and the election, commonly called the "Old Flag" election, was run merely on a sentiment of loyalty to the motherland. "My Lady of the Snows" is a woman who has been born "great," and one who has based her life on principles rather than the emotions, or Plato's theory that the emotions should remain subservient to the will.
By Douglas Lochhead, Alexander Begg. 1973
By Mary Pettit. 2009
Mary Janeway, born in Scotland in 1887, came to Canada as a "home child" at a very young age. Separated… from her brothers and sisters, the "tiny" Mary was sent as a domestic to a farm near Innerkip, Ontario. This is Mary’s story – a recreation of her life set in Victorian rural Ontario, from the time of the tragedy that split her family to her eventual escape from a life of drudgery. Robbed of her childhood years but buoyed by an inner resolve and an indomitable spirit, Mary Janeway reveals the tragic events surrounding this period of Canadian history – the Home Children. Mary Janeway was godmother to author Mary Pettit.