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YesterCanada Paperback – 2016
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'YesterCanada' presents thirty historical tales spanning this great land and the centuries from the 1200s to the 1900s. Here are a few of the mysteries you'll find in its pages: Where in the icy Arctic is the lost Vancouver-based ship Baychimo? Who rang the chapel bell in Tadoussac, Quebec one foggy April night in 1782? Why did a Minnesota farmer abandon his farm, walk to Saskatchewan, and build an ocean-going ship far from any ocean? In 'YesterCanada' you'll also meet adventurers like Ontario´s daring Lady Agnes, Nova Scotia's migrating Normanites, gold-seekers of Alberta, and the Manitoba Cree chief who gave his life for the woman he loved. Elma Schemenauer Born near the village of Elbow, Saskatchewan, Elma sank deep roots into the prairie way of life and the traditions of her extended Mennonite family. Venturing farther afield, she became a teacher of English and religion. After several years she fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving into a publishing career in Toronto. She's the author of 75 books including Yesterstories, Native Canadians Today and Long Ago, Jacob Siemens Family Since 1685, Russia, Ottawa, and Hello Winnipeg. In 2006 Elma and her husband relocated to Kamloops, British Columbia. There she writes, blogs, and takes long walks on grassy hillsides that remind her of her prairie roots.
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Top customer reviews
These historical tales of my country had me enthralled from the first page and I wondered why I had never heard about them in school when I was growing up. I mean, who wouldn't want to know that Sir John A MacDonald's wife perched herself on the cowcatcher of a train just to get a better view of what was up ahead? Or that her husband, much to the horror of those in charge of his safety, joined her?
The author has included factual stories as well as folklore, that I found incredibly intriguing. This will be a book that I recommend to many and hope that it is one that ends up in Canadian schools everywhere as "required reading". I wasn't even going to read this book because of the cover, but when I read the back story and another reviewer's opinion of it, I knew I had to read it. And that is the one thing I fear will keep people from reading this book - the cover - and that would be a shame, because this is one book every Canadian should read.
The author has successfully created a selection of stories that are not only educational, but fascinating and enjoyable to read. You’ll find yourself thinking how come I never heard of the story of The Woman Who walked to the Top of the World or world famous actor Charles Francis Coghlan had a connection to Canada. With beautifully written characters ranging from Lady Agnes to Tom Thomson, YesterCanada takes the reader on many incredible journeys and conveys more in a few pages than many do in an entire novel.
In Abigail Becker, Heroine of Lake Erie we meet the brave Mrs. Becker who fights desperately to save a crew aboard the sinking schooner Conducter. I couldn’t wait to get to the last page to see if she indeed saved the crew or had the ship tragically sunk to the bottom of Lake Erie with everyone on board.
In Lily of the Peace River we learn of the tragic tale of the demise of Edward Armson and his wife who perished alone in the wilderness leaving behind a daughter and one page turning mystery. Or the haunting page turner of the life of Tom Sukanan. His sad and lonely life brought me to tears.
By far my favorite story was that of Lady Agnes Macdonald’s thrilling train ride from Ottawa to Bristish Columbia. Written with such passion, I felt as though I was there with Lady Agnes, sitting on the cowcatcher chugging across the prairies.
There’s a huge amount of skill involved in putting together an array of stories with all different themes ranging from adventure, love, mystery, and even tragedy and still have the novel feel like one book. Elma does this beautifully.
It is rare, but some stories have the power to say with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Elma’s complication of short stories is that kind of novel. My only advice is clear your afternoon because once you start reading YesterCanada you’re not going to want to put it down.
Review by Slavomir Almajan
It deserves five-star rating indeed! It is also a must-read book for readers of any age, any gender, any culture...
Elma Schemenauer invaded my searching heart with a new level of curiosity, way beyond "let's see what else is new" realm. She captured my full attention with Remember the Sunflowers, a captivating novel, deeply entrenched in Canada's prairie culture with all the harmonies and disharmonies of life in a real world.
YesterCanada comes, at least for me, as a surprise that shattered all my reservations regarding short fictionalized history stories. Sometimes this kind of stories come as a cover up for poorly researched facts. YesterCanada is a real deal! It is not a mere attempt to fill the pages with nicely crafted words, although there is a lot of that in this book, but rather a heart's response to so many old stories and legends of this land.
It is a master's touch throughout every story and legend that brings to life the characters and the things that you never thought could breathe again. But they did and they did it with the author's life.
Tom Sukanan is one of the most beautiful and complex characters in the book and the circumstances surrounding his life and shaping his destiny were, to say the least, not less complex. The restlessness he carried within drove him toward unleashing the best of him to the service of others. "It wasn’t that he didn’t care about other people. When new homesteaders arrived in the area, Tom offered to lend them a hand in building their houses. He also turned his inventive and mechanical abilities to projects that benefitted the whole community. It was Tom Sukanan who built the area’s first grain-threshing machine. It was also Tom who constructed a homemade sewing machine so that the women of the district wouldn’t need to do all their mending by hand." The homesickness that hit him later on morphed into one of the most intense dramas that could hit the human soul. The creator became almost one with his creation. They both became an unsung song, victims of aging without legacy, of dying with unfulfilled dreams.
The British Columbia Ship That Wouldn't Die is a symbol, a Thing that survived its creator, carrying his restlessness that built it across the oceans...
Lillian Alling was more than a mere mortal woman. She was a heroine, a pursuer of her dream. Nothing could stand against it. Somehow a part of New York City and every place that her feeble feet touched became better and more alive. The obstacles sometimes would be simple acts of kindness or even apparent hostile actions driven by pure intentions. Wow! I dare you to read this story without falling in love with its main character!
By the author's touch even the dead come to life, not necessarily through living but through animating the bored world by a mysterious and almost unbelievable story. Yes, I said to myself, love survives the mortal being and frees enough territory to accommodate an absolutely beautiful story.
Elma Schemenauer grew to know intimately the world around her and made it more beautiful through her outstanding way of being restless for the sake of carrying the light of Christ through what He made her to be.