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Dear Editor and Friends

Letters from Rural Women of the North-West, 1900-1920

Norah L. Lewis, editor

Life Writing Series

Paper 184 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-287-0

Release Date: April 1998

Online discount: 25%

$24.99  $18.74


How did women in the early twentieth century, newly arrived in North-West Canada, cope with their strange new lives — so very different from the lives they used to lead? How did they see themselves and their role in frontier life?

In the early twentieth century, drawn west by the promise of free land, economic success or religious and political freedom, women moved from eastern Canada and overseas to farms and ranches in North-West Canada. They discovered that it was not the utopia touted by government propaganda or land agents. They also discovered that there was a select but diverse group of rural women who shared their common experiences of isolation, of hard work and duty, of poverty and neglect. But, more importantly, they shared knowledge of independence and self-reliance and of pride in what they had accomplished.

Through letters written to the women’s pages in agricultural newspapers, they forged a vital network that supported, encouraged and educated women in ways to improve their rural lives. Their letters show how these rural women made significant and vital contributions to the settlement and development of the Canadian North-West.

Norah L. Lewis taught in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia and in the Faculties of English at Jiaotong University, Shanghai, and at Zhongshan University, Canton.


“This collection of letters allows us to hear in women’s own words what it was like to live in rural western Canada during the opening decades of the 20th century, and highlights the valuable role that women’s pages played in the lives of these rural women. Dear Editor and Friends help us to understand the significance of women and their work in the settlement and growth of the nation.”

— Constance A. Maguire, NeWest Review

“With its photographs, index, and list of additional readings, Dear Editor is an entertaining introduction to the correspondence ‘clubs’ which played an important part in female discourse in lonely pioneer areas.”

— Janice Dickin, University of Toronto Quarterly

“The letters have not been edited for political correctness. Some exhibit prejudice and intolerance. Others speak of incredible loneliness and still other celebrate the beauty of the Prairies. This accessible collection offers a view of settlement life in the West that is different from the one often found in personal-letter collections.”

— Patricia A. Myers, Canadian Book Review Annual