Sunday, February 26, 2017

Juliet Waldron and John Wisdomkeeper, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Our Canadian Brides story, Nıts'ı̀t'ah Golika Xah (Fly Away Snow Goose) is set in an area which bridges The NWT and Nunavut. The nomadic Dene, Tlicho band, migrate through this vastness every year in order to follow the caribou. By the 1950’s this 10,000 year relationship between land, animals and men is under severe pressure from the outside world. This Bride story is not about immigrating to, or "taming" a wild land, it’s about already being a part of that land and trying to find a way in which to continue, caught between traditional ways and the ways of the European colonizers.  

 Yaotl (warrior) is our heroine’s name, and Golika Xah is the Snow Goose, as well as her family name. She’s not a particularly feminine girl, as her name declares, but her mother, grandmother and aunts are all part of a strong maternal group who have taught her the things a Tłįchǫ woman must know. She can tan a hide, make snares and nets, and she knows all about hunting the smaller creatures, like rabbits and birds. She can sew, embroider and make moccasins, too. She can also throw with accuracy, net and spear fish, is good with a bow. This last skill, although not traditional for her sex, will help her family survive as they travel between spruce forest and the tundra, following the seasonal migration.

The 1950s is a time of change. The kwet'ı̨ı̨̀ (whites) are moving into the area in greater numbers, opening mines and building roads. The government has made it obligatory for 1st Nation’s children to attend residential schools in order to “kill the Indian” in the hearts of the next generation. It was a settled matter of public policy to make citizens in the European mould out of the First Nations People.   Yaotl’s elders are worried by this, although they would like to understand the kwet'ı̨ı̨̀ better, particularly because they have to live with their laws. However, the idea of forgetting who they are, or of abandoning their ancient traditions --songs, stories, beliefs, and, most of all, their land craft—they hope to resist.
Yaotl and Sascho (Grizzly Bear) are picked up by Indian agents and sent off to the Roman Catholic Indian residential school in Fort Providence on the Mackenzie. Yaotl is strong and sure of herself, and so far in her life these traits have served her well. The restrictive, cold, punishing atmosphere of the residential school, with it's very real physical and emotional dangers, almost overcome her. However, like the snow geese whose name she carries, she is irresistibly drawn to seek her land and people even when deep in despair. This spiritual strength will support her resolve to make a daring escape along with her friend Sascho and two of his cousins. That same spirit will help her endure the hardships and threats which abound during their 300 kilometer walk home.

The oldest boy, Sascho, is a boy friend who will, in the course of the journey, become a boyfriend, which is a horse of another color, as all readers of romantic fiction know.  Sascho too hears the magnetic call of Tłįchǫ land, but he also hears the voices of gokeecho (ancestors). His feet, already firmly placed on the path to adulthood, will, during this difficult journey, lead him there.

And from my kwet'ı̨ı̨̀ American self, I’d like to add that I’m honored to have been given this trust, and to have John Wisdomkeeper’s counsel and guidance to help me portray 1st Nation characters with dignity and without candy-coating. While describing and venturing into Dene beliefs and lifeways for the purposes of the story, I also have to view my own family backstory in a harsh, new light. With John's help, I hope to speak some truths in the midst of what is, on the face, plain historical fiction.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meet Rose by A.M. Westerling

The beautiful cover for Barkerville Beginnings, depicting my heroine Rose and her daughter Hannah on Rose and Harrison's wedding day.
I’d like to introduce you to Rosamund Arabella Ruth Lang. She prefers Rose Chadwick but you’ll have to read the story to find out why. I know, mean of me. 😉

Rose grew up on a ranch outside of San Francisco. Her mother died when Rose was young. An only child, she happily looked after her father until the age of nineteen when he disowned her for, in his words, "dishonoring the memory of your sweet mother and bringing shame upon this family" 

She's a single mother in an era when unwed mothers were frowned upon. Like mothers everywhere, she’s  fiercely protective of her four year old daughter Hannah. When  Hannah’s safety is threatened Rose faces the biggest challenge of her twenty four years. She decides her best course of action is to join the Cariboo Gold Rush and hopefully disappear within the throngs of men and women making their way north to Barkerville, British Columbia.

Rose is an independent young woman and determined to make her own way in the world. She doesn’t trust men and when Harrison St John shows an interest in her, she’s not sure she likes it. She draws a lot of interest in the gold rush town as women are definitely in the minority. Things don’t always work out for her but she keeps on until she finds the perfect place of employment. Barkerville gives her the opportunity to provide a better life for herself and her daughter.

For all of my main characters I’ll pore through magazines until I find a likeness I like. Then I’ll cut it out and paste it on a sheet of paper and start making notes. For example, favorite sayings, what conflicts does the character face, family history, character strengths and  flaws, clothing, or any details I need to keep track of.

Please excuse the chicken scratches but here’s my character layout for Rose. As you can see, I had a tough time deciding on her name and went through a few iterations until I hit upon the one I liked. I really don't have a reason for calling her Rose other than I thought the name was pretty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Character by Katherine Pym

Due To Release July 2017
Due to release July 2017

Lady Sara Kirke (b. 1613 d. 1683-1684)

When I began researching a good heroine for our Newfoundland story, I didn't think I'd find someone like Sara Andrews, later Lady Sara Kirke.

From the few historical texts that mention her, they confess she was one hell of a lady. Historians say after the arrest and subsequent death of her husband, Sara took the bull by the horns and for a good thirty years ran a very successful plantation (farm) in Ferryland, Newfoundland Labrador. 
Old map of Ferryland
I haven't found any portraits of Sara Kirke. If there are any, they are locked away somewhere and off the internet grid. A pencil drawing of her husband exists but it's considered a modern rendering of what he may have looked like.

In 1638 David Kirke moved his family to an abandoned plantation named Province of Avalon, Ferryland, NL. (The term plantation was originally known as a colony, a settlement in a new land.) At the time, Ferryland was a bleak, hilly land with poor soil and no trees. It is located on the coast southeast of St. John's, not to be confused with Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada. It has a natural harbor that kept ships afloat during storms. 

Ferryland, NL today
The Kirkes settled in a nice stone house (only rubble now) previously built for George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore. He moved to Ferryland thinking he could establish a Roman Catholic utopia, but after one hard winter and trouble with pirates, the myriad of fishermen who showed up on his shore, Baltimore threw up his hands and ran for the exit.

It took a lot of work to sustain a plantation household, that of their servants and fishermen who worked the sea, but Lady Sara Kirke was up to the task. She partnered with her husband and turned their plantation into a fishery. They owned several boats, salted fish and produced cod oil. They traded their products for wine and other sustainable goods with England and the Europe. Once the colonies of New England gained a footing, the Kirkes obtained goods from warmer climes down the Atlantic Coast.

After Sir David Kirke was arrested and returned to England, Lady Sara raised their sons, and aided her sister who was in exile due her support of King Charles I.

Based on historical facts, Sara was a strong woman. Even today she’s considered North America's first and foremost entrepreneur, so no mewling babe there. 

I did not want to make her weak and humble, then after years of trials and setbacks have her become a strong woman. Nope. Couldn’t have it. I made her a force to be reckoned with from the get-go.

She came from a wealthy merchant’s family and married into another. I made her a partner in the Kirke’s wine business, had her outfit ships for sail to the New World, had her stand up to her husband’s gruff and stubborn ways. This made her capable for anything when she single-handedly ran the Ferryland plantation, a single mother with children (there’s no record of her remarrying), where she had to contend with fishermen from so many nations who felt they could do what they wanted, when they wanted.

I came to like and respect Lady Sara Kirke, and am happy to have been a part of her story. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Amelia: an 18th century Englishwoman in the wilderness of New Brunswick.

By Diane Scott Lewis
In writing my Canadian-based novel, On a Stormy Primeval Shore, with the wonderful research assistance of Nancy Bell, I wanted not only a strong heroine, but not the usual ‘beautiful’ woman who strikes every man to his core with her ravishing looks. I wanted a woman not considered attractive by traditional standards, but one who must struggle and fight her way to be taken seriously, and forge her own happiness.

Amelia Latimer arrives in New Brunswick in 1784, just as this western portion of the colony is breaking away from Nova Scotia. Her father is a captain in the British army stationed at Fort Howe. He’s requested her long journey from Plymouth, England, to betroth her to one of his officers, Lt. Harris.

Because she isn’t beautiful, Amelia at four and twenty years has had few marriage prospects in England; but she still hated to leave her mother who is ill with consumption. Amelia is intelligent, spirited, and determined to find happiness and a purpose.
Her first meeting with Harris doesn’t go well and deeply insulted, she plans to return to England to care for her mother.

But soon New Brunswick, with its startling beauty, rugged shoreline and pastoral interior, charms her.

Captain Latimer wants her to return home on the next ship since she’s refused his choice of a husband, but after hearing of her mother’s death, Amelia has ideas of her own.

The remote colony is a mixture of many cultures. The aboriginals, mainly the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes, who settled the land first. The French Acadians, in what was once New France, who were expelled—even slaughtered—when the English took over, then slowly allowed to return. And the Loyalists who fled north in '83 after the American Revolution, and now flood the country in need of land, food and occupation.

Amelia wants to cultivate herbs for medicinal purposes, but can she survive the harsh Canadian winter, and will a most unsuitable man steal her heart?

 Amelia Latimer is a fictional character whom I’ve entwined into the budding and fascinating history of New Brunswick.
Coming in January 2018
For more information on my books: BWL Author Page
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Martha Black

In 1898, Martha Black participated in the Klondike Gold Rush.  She was the second women elected to Parliament.  And in between, she lived an exciting life.

Read about it here ... 

and here ...  

and here ...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Elisabeth Van Alen, heroine of "Where the River Narrows" (Quebec)

by Kathy Fischer-Brown 

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, Books We Love has taken on an exciting project: the publication of 12 historical novels each set in one of the 10 provinces, the Yukon Territory, and a combined Northwest Territories and Nunavut. As I’m American, I’ve been teamed with Ronald Ady Crouch, a Canadian BWL author who brings a unique set of talents and interests to the project.

Scheduled for publication in the summer of 2018, Where the River Narrows (which is a translation from the Algonquian, “Kebec”) is set during the years of the American War of Independence. This was a tumultuous time for all involved, but especially unsettling (both figuratively and literally) for those who chose to remain loyal to King George III of England.

The story begins in June of 1774. Elisabeth Van Alen is the second child and eldest daughter of Cornelis and Catrina, well-to-do New York Dutch landowners in Tryon County, New York, on the Mohawk River. Her life has not been an easy one, however, as her mother has abdicated her role as matriarch after a succession of heartbreaking losses, leaving 19-year-old Elisabeth in charge of the daily chores of running the household and looking after Catrina, her younger siblings and father. Beth proves herself capable and industrious, but has relegated to the back of her mind any thought of marriage and having a family of her own.

Loyalists Drawing Lots For Their Lands,
1784 by C. W. Jeffreys
(Ontario Government Art Collection)
When her older brother Samuel returns home from Kings College in New York accompanied by his darkly handsome friend, Elisabeth’s life takes on new meaning and her dreams are rekindled. She finds in Gerrit Bosch a soulmate, a man of wit and intelligence, but lacking in family and means. He’s indebted to Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent of Indian affairs and undisputably the wealthiest man in all of New York. Sir William has underwritten his education and has promised Gerrit a position assisting Mr. Hall, the teacher in his settlement of Johnstown.

A month later, following an impassioned address to a convention of Indian leaders at Johnson Hall, Sir William is suddenly stricken and dies a few hours later, an event that changes the course of history.

The thirteen colonies have been in an uproar for years and are now on the brink of revolution. Sir William had been a source of calm and caution, especially where the Mohawk and other members of Iroquois Confederation were concerned. His son and heir, Sir John Johnson, is not so much so. A year later, after all-out war has broken out in Massachusetts and spread to New York, John Johnson and his supporters, in defiance of the new authority in Tryon County, declares himself for the king. In May 1776, he and over 170 of his followers escape arrest and undertake a daring and dangerous escape to Canada, where he musters a loyalist regiment, the King's Royal Yorkers. Among his followers are Samuel Van Alen and Gerrit Bosch.

The consequences of this action are dire for the Van Alen family. When he refuses to sign an “association” (a declaration of allegiance to the new government), Cornelis is hounded and persecuted by neighbors and committee members, ultimately leading to his death. Not long afterwards, the family’s house and lands are seized by the local authorities, and Elisabeth, her two young siblings, her mother and devoted servants, the Freemans, are forced to flee.

The story from this point follows their harrowing trek through the wilderness in late fall into early winter, and the survivors’ arrival at Fort Chambly, and from there to a refugee camp in Sorel and later at Machiche. Details of Elisabeth’s journey are drawn from numerous accounts and depositions of women who made similar journeys during this time: Tales of overcrowded camps teeming with disease and insufficient food, of hastily constructed barracks shared by more people than could safely be accommodated, and of a provisional government barely able to accommodate what would become a flood of immigrants by the end of the war, placing demands on the limited resources needed to fight in a losing cause.

Needless to say, this is a story of survival and endurance, which ends happily for Elisabeth and Gerrit. It is after all, a “Canadian Brides” tale :-) 


Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh's Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan's Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon, Kobo, and other online retailers.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bride of Romancing the Klondike by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

For more about Joan Donaldson-Yarmey's novels and to purchase visit her Books We Love author page

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday Books We Love Ltd is publishing twelve historical novels, one for each of the ten provinces, one for the Yukon Territory, and one combining the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. We Canadian authors were asked to pick one of the provinces or territories to write about or to do the research on for a non-Canadian author. I chose the Yukon because I have been there twice and love the beauty and history of the territory. The following is a short description of the bride of my novel.

Bride of Romancing the Klondike

It is 1896 and nineteen-year-old Pearl Owens is a modern young woman. She has given up the long, full skirts that were heavy and cumbersome, the corsets and petticoats that further limited her movement and the high-collared the dresses that forced her to hold her head high or even tilted back. She wears bloomers, styled after Turkish trousers, and ankle-length skirts.

     Pearl's idols are Anna Leonowens and Annie “Londonderry” Choen Kopchovsky. In the 1860s, Anna Leonowens taught the wives, concubines, and children of the King of Siam, while during the years 1894-1895, Annie “Londonderry” Choen Kopchovsky became the first woman to travel around the world on a bicycle. She was testing a woman’s ability to look after herself.

     Pearl wants adventure just like her idols so she and her cousin, Emma, are on their way up the Yukon River to Fortymile. Pearl is on a trip to the north where she will be writing articles about the area for her hometown newspaper. The two women meet up with Sam Owens, Emma’s brother, and his two friends, Donald and Gordon, in Fortymile. The men, who have been searching for gold in the north for five years, have just returned from staking a claim on Rabbit Creek.

     Sam and his friends leave their cabin in Fortymile and move to their claims on what is now known as Bonanza Creek. Against Sam’s instructions Pearl and Emma follow them, setting up a tent on a bench at the mouth of the Klondike River overlooking the Yukon River.

     Pearl meets Joseph Ladue, the first man to ever set her heart aflutter, while Emma’s teenage feelings for Donald are rekindled. Pearl spends her time speaking with the men and women of the north and sketching the scenery for her articles. She writes about what it is like to be in the middle of a gold strike. She also describes the early development and growth of a town eventually known as Dawson.

     During the ten months they live in the north Pearl and Emma make friends, celebrate holidays, and suffer through tragedy. One of them finds love, one does not. Of the three men two get rich, one does not.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Amelia Douglas

In addition to our brides, this month we are celebrating historic women of Canada.

Meet Amelia Douglas.  She was one of the founding mothers of British Columbia - in addition to being one of the most well-known women in fur trade society.

Read A Brief Bio Here

The Royal BC Museum has a virtual exhibit devoted to Amelia Douglas and her husband

Douglass College - named for Amelia Douglas ... check out more information here

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Prince Edward Island Bride-Anita Davison

Grace Aitken McKinnon

Grace Aitken was from an affluent, middle-class background, whose life changed dramatically at the age of 12 when her parents were killed in a carriage collision in a London street.

She became the ward of her father's business partner and attended the North London Collegiate School in Camden, London, run by Miss Frances Buss, which provided her with a progressive education; unusual for late Victorian girls and with her home life so restrictive, Grace always wondered why the pious Herbert MacKinnon allowed it.

At seventeen, Grace's guardian convinced her that she owed him a debt of gratitude which could be expunged by marrying his son. Grace saw no other option for herself but to comply, although she developed a brotherly relationship with her husband, Frederick. Life in the MacKinnon home is stilted and unenlightened - newspapers are not for general consumption and local society restricted to church and tea with her in-law's like-minded acquaintances.

Frederick's delicate health prevented him challenging his father, and after six years of childless marriage – a fault placed squarely at Grace’s door, he contracted diphtheria and died. As his widow, her in-laws assumed she would take on the role of dependent housekeeper to her semi-invalid mother-in-law; a condition Grace suspects she has chosen, and Herbert MacKinnon's two spinster sisters, all of whom are critical of Grace's ‘wicked ways’, none of which were more outrageous than walking in Hampstead village without a maid, to reading a Women’s Suffrage pamphlet.

It is 1905, Grace is 23 and Frederick has been gone over a year when she finds a note from her husband amongst his things with a solicitor's letter detailing the inheritance from her parents which was kept in trust for her until her 21st Birthday. Beneath the guise of running an errand, Grace visits the solicitor’s office and it is there learns she is not a penniless, powerless widow after all. Grace's inner rebellion emerges and she formulates her escape by booking passage to Canada.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tilly McCormack by Victoria Chatham

For this month we have been asked to introduce the bride featured in our books. I knew from when my publisher, Jude Pittman, first proposed the historical brides series that my bride’s name was Matilda. The rest of it came later. I’d visited Banff Public Library to look for books on Banff and anything I could discover about the town itself.

I explained to the Librarian, Sarah McCormack, why I was interested in these books, and she was so very helpful. The more we talked and the more books she suggested, it suddenly came to me that Matilda and McCormack sounded very good together. I asked her if I could use her surname for my bride and she happily agreed.

I tend to get a bit carried away when building my characters and I had so much material for Tilly that, rather than load my book with her backstory, I chose to leave the majority of it in my research notes. I can tell you that her father was a Scot who made his way to Canada in 1900, leaving his home in Aberdeen in search, as so many were, of a better life in a new land.

Robert McCormack never expected to meet the love of his life shortly after arriving in Montreal, but when he set eyes on pretty schoolteacher Rosemary Delorme he lost his heart. WW1 separated them for awhile, but Robert was one of the lucky ones who came home. Tilly was a welcome addition to their family, and it was with hopes of giving her a better future that they headed west to Alberta and set up farming near Medicine Hat.

Rural life was hard enough, but the dirty thirties made life harder. Having lost her mother, Tilly worked the farm with her father but when he died it was almost a relief for her when the bank foreclosed on the farm. Alone and with no family to turn to, it was imperative that she get a job somewhere. Her father’s bank manager, Mr. Bentinck, was instrumental in helping her get her position at the Banff Springs Hotel.

With her black curly hair and bright blue eyes, Tilly turns heads. She doesn't understand why people find her so note-worthy. She doesn't see herself as attractive, but knows she's well educated, thanks to her parents, honest and hard-working. She's learned to stand up for herself, thanks to her father. Marriage to her is something that might happen someday but when she meets Ryan Blake, someday seems a lot closer than she'd ever imagined it could be. Ryan seems determined to marry her, but there is one small hitch in the plan.

However, Tilly isn’t the only bride in the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but one bride has to keep her marriage secret because of the mores of the time, one bride doesn’t want to get married and the fourth bride…you’ll have to read the book to discover that!