As ordinary people living in the extraordinary time before World War One, their hopes and dreams were forged in a time of radical transformation. It was a time marked by rapid industrial, economic, social and cultural change. As the suffrage movement began to gain momentum, the biggest changes came about in the lives of women.
Against this backdrop, a widowed woman and her three sons are lured to the Pioneer West with the promise of cheap land. Set in an isolated community of early settlers in what is still Indian land, life is far from comfortable. The mother, a suffragette, is a strong woman ahead of her time as she attempts to define herself within (and against) the traditional roles of daughter, wife, and mother. Her three sons stand with their backs against the wall. Believing only in themselves and in each other, they are faced with the possibility that all their plans have come to nothing. When life is brutally hard, the boundaries marking good and evil tend to disappear.
In 1905, Saskatchewan joined Confederation and the Canadian government began actively trying to encourage settlement. Told of “a land where vegetables of excellent quality were grown as far north as JamesBay and flowers bloomed on the shores of the Great Slave Lake,” who could resist?
From 1891 to 1911, the population grew by one thousand, one hundred and twenty five percent. The Canadian government encouraged families from Europe and around the world—especially “families with women who could edify and purify the frontier”.
Without exaggerating the romance and violence of the times, this account of the journey and life on the prairies has an authenticity that gives the reader a true sense of the hardships endured by the early settlers. Believable life-size characters respond realistically to the demands of pioneer life in this story of the struggle for survival in the Last Great West. ‘Star in a Stone Boat’ is a valuable folk history narrating the settlement of Canada.
Do we live in a time of historical amnesia?
» If so, this book should waken readers to the understanding of what life was like for the early settlers living in Upper Canada and on the prairies;
» Remind readers of the reasons for workers’ strikes of the early 1900’s and the rise of the Unions;
» Arouse interest in the early suffragette movement and give readers an idea of how very limited the social, civil, and religious rights of women were prior to the women’s movement;
» Appeal to those interested in history and to those attracted to outdoor adventure;
» Evoke a sense of awe, for the beauty of the grasslands along withfeelings of mystery and majesty for the power of nature;
» Introduce them to the far reaching effects of the Indian Act as a piece of legislation created under British rule for the purpose of subjugating the Aboriginal people.
Although the photographs have been in her possession for many years, it is only when Chaela Hartwright examines them closely that she encounters the ghosts of the women in her family. She comes to realize that life and death not only coexist, but also make strange bedfellows. This story is about ghosts – the ghosts that sleep deep beneath our levels of consciousness. Whether the action takes place in 1865 or 2015, whether it happens at Fountaindale, in the house at Muskoka Falls, or in China after the Cultural Revolution, it is a coming of age story that deals with the cruelty of love.
Deciding to teach media, she embarked on the lifelong path of education studying first at the University of British Columbia and then completing graduate studies at McGill and Concordia in Montréal. She later went on to teach Media, Philosophy and Psychology before turning to experiential learning as a means of exploring the ‘real’ world.
Michele travelled in the Far East for a number of years teaching in Hangzhou, Beijing and Taipei before moving back to Victoria, British Columbia. Here she finally had time to pursue her passion for writing and published her first novel, All the Ghosts are Sleeping.
As a result of years of Asian training, Michele enjoys teaching Bao Jian, the Tai Chi sword, and various Yang style Tai Chi forms in her spare time.