Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Noteworthy Books with Canadian Historical Themes

English Titles

The Auction The Auction
Jan Andrews
Illustrations: Karen Reczuch
Toronto: A Groundwood Book, Douglas & McIntyre, 1992, 32 p.
ISBN 0888991681
Ages 6 to 10

Cover reproduced by permission of Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.

As they prepare for an auction to sell the family farm, Todd and his grandfather console each other by reminiscing about the time before Todd was born. Todd has heard these stories before and he and his grandfather find solace in remembering them. The stories how Gramps chose this bit of prairie, how he cleared the land, the day they got electricity are enhanced by the realistic and colourful illustrations which, together with the text, paint a picture of life some 40 years ago. The real drama in The Auction, however, occurs in the present. This is a contemporary story about accepting change.

Belle's Journey Belle's Journey
Marilynn Reynolds
Illustrations: Stephen McCallum
Victoria, B.C.: Orca Book Publishers, 1993, 32 p.
ISBN 0920501907
Ages 4 to 8
Belle's Journey, written by Marilynn Reynolds, illustrated by Stephen McCallum, reprinted by permission of Orca Book Publishers.

This charming picture book depicts a time  --  probably the 1920s  --  when rural children regularly rode horses as a means of transport to and from school, and in this case, piano lessons. In the story, a little girl named Molly and the old family workhorse named Belle are caught in a sudden prairie blizzard on the way home from Molly's weekly piano lesson in town. The bitter cold and fierce wind penetrate the text and illustrations (marvelously rendered in pencil crayon and watercolour) as the faithful Belle relies on instinct and perseverance to find the way home. A heart-warming tale of days gone by.

Breakaway Breakaway
Paul Yee
Toronto: A Groundwood Book, Douglas & McIntyre, 1994, 144 p.
ISBN 0888992017
Ages 12 to 16
Cover reproduced by permission of Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.

Kwok-Ken Wong, an 18-year-old growing up on a poor mud flat farm in Vancouver in the dirty thirties, is at odds with the world. He doesn't fit in at school where he is the only Chinese student. He is ill at ease in Chinatown because his family doesn't live there anymore. His authoritarian parents are always nagging him about schoolwork, farmwork and pigslop work. On top of everything, his dreams of soccer glory and a scholarship to university are thwarted at every turn. The myriad of detail in this realistic story, about Chinese-Canadian culture, Vancouver's Chinatown, and the Fraser River farm, heightens the impact of its theme of racial intolerance. A story of yesterday with a message for today.

Catch Me Once, Catch Me Twice
Janet McNaughton
St. John's, Nfld.: Tuckamore Books, 1994, 169 p.
ISBN 1895387388
Ages 12 to 15

Sadness and uncertainty surround young Ev McCallum in wartime St. John's. There is little news from her father who is away at war; her mother is weathering a difficult pregnancy; her grandmother interferes; her grandfather is busy. But this is not a sad story. Ev has spirit, determination and a strong sense of self. The reader feels at one with her and her family and friends, at ease with topics as diverse as midwifery, fairy lore, and boat-building, and at home with the nightly blackouts (necessitated by the threat of Nazi invasion) and the salty sea air. A well-written story, true to the period, told with warmth and sensitivity.

The Cremation of Sam McGee The Cremation of Sam McGee
Robert W. Service
Illustrations: Ted Harrison
Introduction: Pierre Berton
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1986, ©1907, 32 p.
ISBN 0919964923
Ages 11 and up
Cover reproduced by permission of Kids Can Press Ltd.

A victim of 19th-century gold fever, one Sam McGee left the warmth of Tennessee for the promise of gold and the reality of cold in the Yukon. The fulfillment of his dying wish to be cremated is the task of his partner, who relates the tale. The lure of the Yukon, so central to Service's poem, is also evinced in this publication by the 12 wonderful paintings by Ted Harrison which accompany the text. The hauntingly beautiful paintings speak volumes about life in the North and reflect the poetic images of a gold-hungry southerner lost in a cold and desolate landscape.

Return to top of page arrow
Proactive Disclosure

Social Tagging (About Social Tagging)

Date Created: 2001-05-29
Date Modified: 2002-09-25

Top of Page
Important Notices