Skip to main content

Our Canadian Girls

Series

Our Canadian Girls

The tales told in the Our Canadian Girls series tell the stories of four extraordinary girls living in extraordinary times.  Through the eyes of Rachel, Marie-Claire, Penelope and Emily you can learn a few things about Canada's history.  The girls themselves may be fictional, but the events that they live through are not.

Links:
Official Website (Educator Materials available)

Our Canadian Girls

Books in this series

by Sharon McKay

The war is over and it's Christmas. Penelope and her grandmother are looking forward to being reunited with Penny's father and sisters. However, during the year that they've been apart, Penny feels like her sisters have grown up without her. She quickly learns that her father wants to take her and her sisters back to Halifax with him, to become a family again. But Penelope has come to love her grandmother and the life they share in Montreal. By the end of the holiday she will have to make a decision that will affect her, her family, and the course of her life.

by Lynne Kositsky

The war is over and it's Christmas. Penelope and her grandmother are looking forward to being reunited with Penny's father and sisters. However, during the year that they've been apart, Penny feels like her sisters have grown up without her. She quickly learns that her father wants to take her and her sisters back to Halifax with him, to become a family again. But Penelope has come to love her grandmother and the life they share in Montreal. By the end of the holiday she will have to make a decision that will affect her, her family, and the course of her life.

by Julie Lawson

Emily is looking forward to one of her favorite times of the year: the four-day celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday. On May 26, Emily, her family and friends climb on board streetcars for the ride to Esquimalt to witness the climax of the holiday celebrations. As Car 16 rolls onto the Point Ellice Bridge, the center span of the bridge collapses and the streetcar --- packed with more than 120 passengers --- plunges into the Gorge!

by Julie Lawson

When Hing's family finally arrives, Emily becomes fast friends with his daughter Mei Yuk. But as Emily brings Mei Yuk into her social life, she finds some things changing between her and her best friend, Alice. Inspired by her art teacher, a young Emily Carr, Emily learns the importance of staying true to oneself and the meaning of tolerance and friendship.

by Julie Lawson

Emily greets the summer holiday with mixed feelings: while there's no more school, there's no Alice to play with because Alice's parents forbade their friendship. But summer holds out new promise with Emily's discovery of a dog on the beach. Near death when she spots him and with no one to claim him, it doesn't take long before Emily's tender loving care restores him to his happy and healthy self. In fact, Sam is such a great dog that soon Emily worries that he may be dognapped! Victoria has just been hit with gold fever and men are thronging into the city from Seattle to grab gear --- and good dogs if they can find them --- before heading up north to the Klondike to get rich. The gold rush, it seems, can change everyone's fortunes --- even those of a dog!

by Kathy Stinson

In A SEASON OF SORROW, Marie-Claire is looking forward to leading a normal life again. Her brother Louis is home from the west, and she's able to go back to school. But then smallpox descends on Montreal and it seems that no one will be spared --- not even the people that Marie-Claire loves the most. How will she and her family survive?

by Kathy Stinson

Marie-Claire is facing the consequences, both good and bad, of her generous offer to house the Linteaus, a family who has lost their home in a fire. While their presence fills the house with the vitality and laughter missing since Emilie's death, it's a small house and there are too many people in it. Marie-Claire decides to take matters into her own hands, with surprising results.

by Kathy Stinson

It's almost Christmas, which means fresh snow, ice-skating, and delicious, festive dinners. Best of all, Marie-Claire's Tante Thérèse, Oncle Henri, and their new baby Angélique are coming to visit from Toronto. But instead of excitement and happiness, Marie-Claire is still sad from the loss of her little sister, Emilie. She is also, for the first time, feeling jealous of her wealthy friend Laura. As she struggles with her guilt over wanting things she doesn't have, she learns that both giving and receiving are important parts of Christmas, and life.

by Anne Laurel Carter

When the Acadians are deported from their land by the British in 1762, Elizabeth and her family are offered one of their farms in Nova Scotia. Elizabeth is deeply unhappy about leaving her home in New England but the beauty of the Annapolis Valley soon wins her over. Her misgivings return, however, when she discovers that someone is stealing eggs and milk from the farm and, much worse, that Acadians are imprisoned in barracks nearby. Will she be able to fight injustice?

by Anne Laurel Carter

PIRATE ISLAND resumes the story of Elizabeth, a Planter in Nova Scotia in the 1760s. She and Mathilde, the daughter of the Acadian family Elizabeth helped in Book One, have become fast friends. But Sarah Worth is also Elizabeth's friend now, and Elizabeth hopes Sarah and Mathilde will learn to like each other. She wants the three of them to explore Pirate Island like her hero, Robinson Crusoe. After all, an adventure --- including a search for treasure --- should be just the thing to bring three girls together.

by Anne Laurel Carter

Nova Scotia, 1762: While Elizabeth's mother is busy preparing for the arrival of a baby, plans to start up a school in their home must be put on hold. But when Elizabeth learns that her friend Mathilde can't read, she's determined to do something about it. In between chores at the Porter house, she begins to teach Mathilde and young Josh Porter. When Elizabeth's friend Sarah hears about the secret school, she decides to pitch in with the teaching, much to Mathilde's dismay. Will Elizabeth ever manage to bring her two friends together? And will her students be prepared for the Christmas Day surprise she has in store for their families?

by Anne Laurel Carter

Nova Scotia, 1762: Elizabeth and Mathilde have become best friends, but the animosity between Mathilde's Acadian family and the local settlers may force the LeBlancs to move away from the place they call home. Elizabeth cannot imagine her life without Mathilde, with whom she plays and shares stories. Even the birth of her new brother doesn't stop her from thinking about losing her friend. She is determined to do everything she can to keep the LeBlancs where they belong. Will Elizabeth's prayers be answered?

by Dorothy Joan Harris

In Depression-era Vancouver, times are tough. It is 1939 and Ellen's dad has lost his job, forcing Ellen and her family to move to cramped quarters with her grumpy grandfather. Living far away from her friends, with little to entertain her and few luxuries, Ellen is lonely and frustrated with her lot in life. But Ellen's view of things changes when she meets a hobo, who teaches her the true meaning of generosity and goodwill.

by Dorothy Joan Harris

Picking up where the first book left off, we find Ellen in Depression-era Vancouver. News of the war in Europe is adding to everyone's woes, but Ellen's circumstances are looking brighter. Her father has gotten a good office job, and her deepening friendship with her next-door neighbor Amy, a Canadian girl of Japanese descent, relieves the loneliness of living in a new town. Then Japan becomes a hostile aggressor in the war and Ellen discovers that war affects everyone, including children, even thousands of miles away.

by Dorothy Joan Harris

Vancouver, 1940: Ellen and her parents have grown accustomed to living with wartime food rationing, but news that Ellen's classmate Marjorie has been stricken with polio causes fear of an epidemic in the community. There are other fears, too --- of the war and for the many who have enlisted at risk to their lives. When Ellen becomes ill and must recuperate at home, she does a lot of thinking --- about the war, what she can do to help the men overseas, and how she can cheer up her sick friend.

by Dorothy Joan Harris

Vancouver, 1941: As the war rages on in Europe, the United States joins in the fight after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces. Suddenly, Japanese Canadians are considered to be "enemies," and Amy Takashima and her family fear for their safety and freedom. Ellen cannot understand why her best friend should be punished, especially since Amy was born in Canada and her parents have been wonderful neighbors. But others in the community think that the Takashimas could be spies --- which only strengthens the girls' friendship as they cling together for comfort. What will happen to Amy and her family? Will the war separate the girls forever?

by Cora Taylor

It's 1865, and Angelique, a ten-year-old Métis girl, is getting ready for the annual buffalo hunt on the prairies. This year's hunt will be special because Angelique is now old enough to participate alongside the grownups. Excited, and a little bit scared, she knows it will be hard work, with new and important responsibilities. Just how important becomes clear on the day Angelique wanders off exploring and finds herself in the middle of a buffalo stampede. The consequences to her ---and to everyone else taking part in the hunt --- may well be costly.

by Cora Taylor

It's 1865, and Angelique and her family are hunting buffalo across the prairies, along with other Metis families. When horse thieves raid their camp one night, more than the horses are in danger: the buffalo hunt --- and the Metis' very survival --- are at stake.

by Cora Taylor

It's 1870, and Angelique and her family are once again looking forward to the annual buffalo hunt. But this year, and much to her disappointment, Angelique must stay behind to care for her expectant mother. Angelique can't imagine that helping her mother will be nearly as exciting as joining the hunt. Soon, however, she discovers that her responsibilties are just as great --- and possibly more dangerous!

by Cora Taylor

In the final installment of Angelique's story, Angelique and Joseph have a new baby sister, but Mama and baby must stay with the midwife until the raging blizzards subside. As Papa travels to and from the midwife's house, Angelique must take on more responsibilities at home, which would be much easier were it not for the freezing temperatures. Winter, which has come with a vengeance to the little settlement of Batoche, means snow and fun, but it can also mean danger.

by Budge Wilson

It's 1941, and Izzie and her family are preparing for a very special Christmas. With all the soldiers, sailors and ships crowding into nearby Halifax, World War II seems especially close at hand. Despite the hardships of war, Izzie's extended family is coming to stay for the holidays and Izzie, her little brother and their friends have been placed in charge of making Christmas decorations. When a terrible storm threatens to spoil the festivities, Izzie decides it is up to her to save Christmas --- for everyone!

by Budge Wilson

It's 1942, and Izzie Publicover's life is changing. Her father has finally been accepted by the Canadian navy, and the rest of the family is moving to Dartmouth so that Izzie's mother can work. Although Izzie is proud that her father will be fighting the Nazis, she loves her home in Granite Cove and will miss her best friend, Jasper. Making the most of her new circumstances, she soon befriends another recent arrival at her school. Patricia has been evacuated from London, England, where the war is more immediate and dangerous. But even as Izzie works on breaking Patricia's standoffish exterior, the terror of war is moving closer to Nova Scotia.

by Budge Wilson

Nova Scotia, 1942: Izzie and her family have been living a new kind of life in the town of Woodside. Her mother has a job on the assembly line at the sugar refinery, and Izzie and her brother, Joey, have found new friends. Still, with Izzie's father in the navy, it's impossible for the family not to worry about him when they see explosions in the night just beyond Halifax Harbour or when they hear news of the sinking of another ship.

When Izzie's family learn they can return to Granite Cove for the summer, Izzie is delighted and invites her friend Patricia to stay with them. But there is no escaping the reality of war, and one fateful day the family receive a telegram that will change their lives.

by Budge Wilson

Nova Scotia, 1945: With reports that the war is coming to an end, the Publicovers eagerly await the return of Izzie and Joey's father. But peace will also mean other, less welcome changes for Izzie's best friends, Roberta and Patricia. Patricia fears having to return to her uncaring mother in England, never to see her dear friends --- or Jasper --- again, and insecure Roberta will be left all alone if Izzie's family decides to go back to Granite Cove. How will they manage without each other?

by Priscilla Galloway

It's 1862, and an expedition is making the perilous journey to the west coast of Canada, where gold has been discovered. At Fort Garry (now Winnipeg), ten-year-old Lisa, an orphan, joins the group with her aunt, uncle and cousins. As Lisa and her family battle their way across the prairies and over the mountains to the goldfields of Cariboo, they encounter terrible hardships --- and learn how important they are to one another.

by Priscilla Galloway

It is June 1862. Lisa and her family are now in Kamloops, almost at the end of their journey to Cariboo. But with new baby Rose to take care of, Lisa's parents are happy to stay put. Lisa can't believe they want to stay in Kamloops and give up a chance to find gold. Then a letter arrives from her newly married cousin, Archie, and Lisa discovers an alternative. She will go to Cariboo to be with Archie and his new wife, and she'll find gold all by herself --- enough for her whole family!

by Priscilla Galloway

It's 1863, and the fortunes of Lisa and the McNaughtons are looking up. The gold nugget Lisa discovered will pay for her family to be reunited with her in the mining town of Cameronton, and she, Archie and Mr. Wattie have staked their claim. They've also staked their hopes on discovering more gold. Trouble looms, however, when a fierce-looking miner called Samuel Stokes insists that the claim --- and Lisa's nugget --- belong to him. Stokes is a bully, and Lisa is scared of him, but she's sure that he has no claim to her gold, and she's not going to give it up without a fight.

by Kathy Kacer

It is 1944, and Margit and her mother, who have fled from war-torn Czechoslovakia, are refugees in Canada. They are Jews, and although life is difficult in this unfamiliar land, they know it would have been much, much worse had they stayed behind. Margit manages to make some new friends but she cannot help wondering what will happen to her when the war ends. And what has become of her father, who was taken away by the Nazis?

by Kathy Kacer

It is 1946, and the war is finally over. Margit's beloved father has returned to his family after being held in a concentration camp, and Margit is thrilled. Her family is trying hard to do well in their new home, but Toronto is very different from Czechoslovakia. Her highly educated father cannot find work in this new country, and Margit starts to fail at school, which she hides from her parents. How can she disappoint the family she loves after they have been through so much to make a good life for her in Canada?

by Kathy Kacer

It is 1947, and Canada has opened its borders to one thousand Jewish war orphans. When Margit's own Toronto Jewish community is asked to open its homes and hearts to these children, she is determined to welcome a child to her family. But between school, housework, and helping care for her brother, Margit barely has a moment to herself. How can she convince her parents that they have the space, money and time to open their doors to another child?

by Troon Harrison

Ten-year-old tomboy Millie MacCallum needs a break from her parents and new baby sister almost as much as they need a break from Millie. So it's arranged that Millie will spend the summer with her aunt at Stoney Lake in Ontario's Kawartha Lakes region, one of the province's first areas of pioneer settlement. It's 1914 and life in the Kawarthas is much different from Millie's urban existence in Toronto. In the course of a wonderful, adventurous summer, Millie learns about another way of life --- and about herself --- in ways that she would never have imagined.

by Troon Harrison

It's September 1914. Ten-year-old tomboy Millie MacCallum has just learned that her father, like so many other Canadian men, will be leaving for England to join in the war effort. More bad news: her mother has enrolled her in a new school where she'll be expected to learn languages, dancing and lady-like deportment. Millie would much rather be paddling a canoe or tucking up her dress to wade among water lilies. Nonetheless, she promises her father that she'll stay out of trouble while he's away. But for a girl as lively as Millie, this is a hard promise to keep.

by Troon Harrison

December 1914: Millie is looking forward to a beautiful Victorian Christmas, just as usual. With her father away fighting in the war, she is especially determined to keep holiday traditions alive during this time of turmoil. But Christmas will be anything but "as usual" this year. With the unexpected arrival of Molly and Feather as well as some new faces, everyone has differing opinions on how Christmas should be celebrated. Will all of Millie's perfect plans be dashed? Will this be the worst Christmas ever?

by Deborah Ellis

It's September 1901, and ten-year-old Keeley and her father are making a fresh start, after the death of Keeley's mother, in a brand new town called Frank that sits in a valley at the bottom of Turtle Mountain in southern Alberta.

From the moment they arrive Keeley knows she'll love Frank. Not only can she and her dad live together, but in Frank there's room for children to breathe, as her dad would say. There's also room for mischief, and Keeley quickly gets into some, with the encouragement of a schoolmate named Peter. Peter dares Keeley to spend a night in the coal mine, where she discovers another part of Frank that's a little bit scary. Will things turn out as she hopes?

by Deborah Ellis

It's 1902, and Keeley has decided that she wants to be a newspaper reporter. What better way to start off her career than by solving a mystery and writing about it for the new local paper? All over Frank, Alberta, things have been going missing: Mrs. Johnston's shirt from her clothesline, Andy Grissick's frying pan, and Mrs. Greer's axe. But there are even more mysterious things happening around Frank. Keeley's teacher, Miss Griffin, is behaving oddly, there are women protesting in the streets, and Canada is apparently at war, although Keeley doesn't understand whom the soldiers are fighting or where the battles are taking place. What she does know is that if she can solve these mysteries, she will have a great story to tell!

by Deborah Ellis

Life is bustling in Frank, Alberta, with more new settlers arriving every day in the booming mining town. Keeley is busier than ever, hatching plans for her newspaper and preparing for the upcoming spelling bee. She's bound and determined to outspell Peter! Everything changes, however, when a disastrous landslide leaves much of Frank in ruins, struggling for survival. Worst of all, Keeley's father is missing, and all she can do is desperately hope that he is still alive.

by Kathy Kacer - Children's, Literature

1947: Now that Margit and her family have settled into their new life in Toronto's Kensington Market, they have --- at Margit's urging --- agreed to take in a Polish orphan. Lilly speaks no English and jealously guards her only possession: a photo of her mother and father. Unable to communicate with Lilly, or to comfort her when she wakes in the night with bad dreams, Margit and her family are feeling the strain. Even Margit's cherished friendship with Alice is at the breaking point. Will Margit ever be able to break through to this troubled young girl? Will Alice ever speak to her again?