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“I Want to Join Your Club”

Letters from Rural Children, 1900-1920

Edited by Norah L. Lewis
Subjects History, Canadian History, Biography & Autobiography, Life Writing
Series Life Writing Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889202603, 262 pages, November 1996
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587308, 262 pages, October 2010

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
“I want to join your club”: Letters from Rural Children, 1900–1920, edited by Norah L. Lewis

Preface | Neil Sutherland



“We Were Nine Days Coming Out”: By Ship, by Train, by Wagon

“I Have Two Sisters and a Brother”: Family and Community Life

“We Have No School Here”: Education and Schooling

“I Have a Pony”: Children and Their Pets

“I Want to Tell You of the Fun We Had Today”: Games, Hobbies, Clubs, and Community Events

“I Have Been Trapping This Year”: Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing

“My Father Is Both Fisherman and Farmer”: Occupations and Vocations

“I Shall be a Farmer”: Life and Work on the Farm and Ranch

“A Story That Is a Little Tragic”: Drama, Trauma, and Childhood Adventures

“My Father Has Enlisted”: Children and the First World War

“I Worked in a Pulp-Mill”: Part of the Work Force


“I am a girl, 13 years old, and a proper broncho buster. I can cook and do housework, but I just love to ride. ”

In letters written to the children’s pages of newspapers, we hear the clear and authentic voices of real children who lived in rural Canada and Newfoundland between 1900 and 1920. Children tell us about their families, their schools, jobs and communities and the suffering caused by the terrible costs of World War I.

We read of shared common experiences of isolation, hard work, few amenities, limited educational opportunities, restricted social life and heavy responsibilities, but also of satisfaction over skills mastered and work performed. Though often hard, children’s lives reflected a hopeful and expanding future, and their letters recount their skills and determination as well as family lore and community histories.

Children both make and participate in history, but until recently their role has been largely ignored. In “I Want to Join Your Club,” Lewis provides direct evidence that children’s lives, like adults’, have both continuity and change and form part of the warp and woof of the social fabric.


``This book would be a good addition to any school library, both as entertaining reading and historical reference, and as a reminder that the past was not so golden: `I am housekeeper, as my mother works in town eight miles away and only comes home Saturday night, as she has to walk. I have a little brother three months old to take care of besides looking after the other children and the work. I can sew and knit. I am eleven years old. ...Northern Rose. ' ''

- Atlantic Books Today

``The book is low-key, as delicate and wistful as a watercolor. Yet it is a tremendously important addition to our collective social history because it gives voice to a previously ignored segment of Canadian society. ''

- Janet Arnett, , Canadian Book Review Annual