Here is the second instalment highlighting our new Canadian Historical Fiction in Overdrive. There are many more great titles to explore. Enjoy!!
The Lamp, the Ice and the Boat Called Fish by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish tells the dramatic story of the Canadian Arctic expedition that set off in 1913 to explore the high north.
Lucky’s Mountain by Dianne Haycock
The year is 1935 and Maggie Sullivan’s world has fallen apart. Maggie has grown up in a close-knit mining community perched atop a mountain in British Columbia. But now her father has been killed in a mine explosion and she is being forced to leave the only home she has ever known. To make matters worse, she must also leave behind her best friend Lucky, the three-legged dog that was a special gift from Pa.
Note: Teacher’s Guide for Lucky’s Mountain here.
The Lynching of Louie Sam by Elizabeth Stewart
Between 1882 and 1968 there were 4,742 lynchings in the United States. In Canada during the same period there was one—the hanging of American Indian Louie Sam.
The year is 1884, and 15-year-old George Gillies lives in the Washington Territory, near the border with British Columbia. In this newly settled land, white immigrants have an uneasy relationship with the Native Indians. When George and his siblings discover the murdered body of a local white man, suspicion immediately falls on a young Indian named Louie Sam. George and his best friend, Pete, follow a lynch mob north into Canada, where the terrified boy is seized and hung.
But even before the deed is done, George begins to have doubts. Louie Sam was a boy, only 14—could he really be a vicious murderer? Were the mob leaders motivated by justice, or were they hiding their own guilt? As George uncovers the truth—implicating Pete’s father and other prominent locals—tensions in the town rise, and he must face his own part in the tragedy. But standing up for justice has devastating consequences for George and his family.
Inspired by the true story of the lynching, recently acknowledged as a historical injustice by Washington State, this powerful novel offers a stark depiction of historical racism and the harshness of settler life. The story will provoke readers to reflect on the dangers of mob mentality and the importance of speaking up for what’s right.
Meyer’s Creek by Connie Brummel Crook
A compelling story of the true experiences of a United Empire Loyalist family during a critical period of Canadian history. Mary Meyers is typical of any nineteen-year-old. She longs for adventure—and for freedom to live her own life.But in the year 1786, and the realities that face newly settled United Empire Loyalist families like Mary’s are often harsh. In this continuation of the Meyers family saga that began with the author’s first novel, Flight, Mary must come to terms with danger, the survival of her family, and love.”
Note: Study Guide (Ideas and Activities) for Meyers Creek is available here.
The Old Brown Suitcase by Lillian Boraks Nemetz
The Old Brown Suitcase, an award winning book that has sold extraordinarily well both nationally and internationally, now appears in a new edition by Ronsdale Press. The novel narrates the absorbing story of a young girl who survived the Holocaust against all odds.
At age fourteen, Slava comes to Canada with her parents and sister and a suitcase filled with memories of a lost childhood, memories that now haunt her new life. She cannot forget the hunger, stench and disease in the Warsaw Ghetto, nor the fear and humiliation of being incarcerated behind a high brick wall. She cannot forget her extraordinary escape from the Ghetto when she walked alone through the gate while the guards were looking the other way. Nor can she forget being swallowed up in a strange and unknown place to survive under a hidden identity.
The story juxtaposes heart-wrenching scenes from a child’s life in war-torn Poland with the life of a teenager trying to adjust to a new country in time of peace. In Canada, it is not easy for Slava to build a bridge between two cultures; nor is it easy to live with the turmoil of her immediate past. At the same time she must face the new challenges involved in being an immigrant, a Jew and a teenage girl. This new edition appends notes on the Warsaw ghetto and a bibliography for future reading.
The Phantom’s Gold by Eric Murphy
A year after a tragic accident, thirteen-year-old William McCoy runs away to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia to be with his late father’s family. He finds more than just memories: he also finds a high-stakes schooner race, clues to the location of a legendary stash of gold … and the ghost of his ancestor, the famous rum-runner Bill “The Real” McCoy!
Rescue at Fort Edmonton by Rita Feutl
Janey doesn’t want to spend the summer away from her friends in Toronto – and certainly not in Edmonton with the grandmother she hardly knows. But her parents will be away – her mother in Turkey designing housing for earthquake victims, her dad on business trips.Her first surprise is her feisty grandma, who meets her at the airport in her vintage Cadillac, Marilyn. The second comes when she visits the Fort Edmonton historic park and time travels to 1907. The third is learning the real reason she’s in Edmonton. Her grandma is going through cancer treatment and needs someone to be with her.Janey makes four trips, each to a different period of Fort Edmonton’s history. What draws her into the past? Only on the last trip does she discover the meaning of her adventures – and their crucial connection to her own family.Rita Feutl’s first novel features a deftly handled plot and a wealth of fascinating characters from prairie history.
Note: Novel Study Guide for Rescue at Fort Edmonton is available here.
The Reunion by Jacqueline Pearce
Shannon is excited about spending a week at her friend Rina’s house, but she’s a little nervous too. Rina seems to be able to do everything better than she can and her home is chaotic compared to Shannon’s own. When things fall apart, Rina’s grandmother is there to tell them a story from her past, early in the Second World War. The story is about a rift between her and her childhood friend, Mitsu, a rift that could never be healed because Mitsu and her family were taken away from the small town of Paldi and interned with other Japanese Canadians. Rina’s grandmother, Jas, never saw Mitsu again. That is, not until Shannon and Rina find a handful of forgotten beads in the bottom of a cardboard box.
Note: Teacher’s Guide for The Reunion here.
Strawberry Moon by Becky Citra
The year is 1838 and Ellie’s grandmother has arrived all the way from England. Ellie is horrified to discover that the forbidding old woman intends to take her back to Britain to be raised properly. Ellie is determined that she will not go, but what can a nine-year-old girl do in the face of an adult with her mind made up?
Note: Teacher Guide for Strawberry Moon is available here.
Willa’s New World by Barbara Demers
Willa is a thirteen-year-old orphan shipped to the new world in 1795. Resourceful and strong-willed, she survives many hardships before travelling on foot from Hudson’s Bay to Fort Edmonton with native companions who show her a genuinely “new” world.Life doesn’t look promising for Willa when her family is wiped out by the London plague. Her uncaring uncle ships her to York Factory on Hudson’s Bay, scarcely expecting her to survive the trip. But she’s stronger than he knows. Not only does she make it to the new world, but she also survives unscrupulous thieves by going to work for Master George, the fort commander, and by befriending Amelia, the aboriginal cook.Through her successful work and the support of Amelia, Willa begins to be something she has never dreamed of – a strong and independent person. After Willa refuses Master George’s surprise offer of marriage, she decides she must leave again. As Amelia’s relatives lead her across the northern wilderness to Fort Edmonton, they show her a land of great beauty and teach Willa how to live in accord with this natural world.
Winds of L’Acadie by Lois Donovan
When sixteen-year-old Sarah from Toronto learns that she is to spend the summer with her grandparents in Nova Scotia, she is convinced that it will be the most tedious summer ever. She gets off to a rough start when she meets Luke, the nephew of her grandmother’s friend, and one unfortunate event leads to another. Just when she thinks her summer cannot get much worse, she finds herself transported to Acadia in 1755.
Here she meets Anne and learns much about the Acadian culture and history and the Acadians’ relations with the Mi’kmac people. She also experiences the warmth she has always wanted of a closely knit family. When Sarah realizes that the peace-loving Acadians are about to be torn from their homes and banished to distant shores, she is desperate to find a way to help them. Forced to abandon her pampered, stylish lifestyle, Sarah uncovers a strength and determination she did not know she possessed.
Although Sarah has to come to terms with the fact that “you can’t change history,” she is willing to risk her life to do everything in her power to help her Acadian family, and finds a surprising ally in Luke. Winds of L’Acadie, a historical novel for readers ten and up, reveals a painful part of Canadian history through the relationship of two young women from different centuries.
Note: Teacher Guide for Winds of L’Acadie is available here.
Reviews by Overdrive