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Dear Editor and Friends

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

Edited by Norah L. Lewis
Subjects History, Canadian History, Social Science, Women’s Studies, Biography & Autobiography, Life Writing
Series Life Writing Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889202870, 184 pages, April 1998

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Dear Editor and Friends: Letters from Rural Women of the North-West, 1900–1920, edited by Norah L. Lewis

List of Illustrations


“The West Is Calling” | Mary Fraser





Tom Boy


Alberta Fawn

Emma Rose

East Wind

E. M.T.

Late Comer


Sour Grapes




Maid o’ the Mist

A Bereaved Mother

Nil Desperadum


Frank’s Mother


Still Hopeful


Sage-Brush: From a Dry Climate

Butter and Eggs: Land for Single Women

B. S.: Room for a Change

T. Lynch: Teachers Wanted in B. C.

A Wrathy Spinster: A Spinster Who Knows

B. C.: Young Wives

J. W.: A Man among the Amazons

A Clerk: A Good Place for Women


A Mother


Western Teacher: A Western Teacher’s Advice

Young Schoolma’am: A Word for Widowers

B. A.M. : A Happy Western Teacher

Poor but Hopeful: On Mining Speculation

Big Mike: Big Mike Wants a Working Wife



Meadow Rue

Imogen: Teaching in the West

Hazel Eyes: A Brave Woman

Sunset: Diana of the Pacific

Bess: Fond of Horses and Hunting


Barrie: Helpful and Amusing

Cricket of Paradise Valley: Life and Love

A Marriageable Woman: A Chance for a Bachelor

Bread Winner: A Sad Story


Teresa: An Englishwoman’s View

Lord Ullin’s Daguther: The Wife’s Dower

Mere Men: The Dower Question

Brightness: Pretty and Useful Seat

Justice of the Peace: The Dower Law

Mrs. J. A.K. : Baby for Adoption

Nawitka: A Strong Plea for Women

A Wife and Mother: The Franchise


Addariah: A Vexed Question

Farmer’s Wife (Slave): A Real Grievance

Farmer’s Wife: Story of a Maternity Nurse

One Who Knows: Why Young People Leave the Farm

In-the-Depths: Comfort Wanted

Temperance Worker: Local Option

Old Maids


Settler: Graham Island


Tired: Tired’s Letter of Thanks

Christina: A Helpful Letter

Penelope: Her Heart’s Desire

Flynn Valley: Children Need a Home

Rosebush: A Prairie Christmas Tress

Betty: Things Look Black

Morning Albertan: A Christmas Tree


Beacon: Matrimonial Laws in Saskatchewan


Sweet Idaho: Children Given Away

Grandmother: Methods in Child Raising

A Mother: Health and Morality

Worker: What Do You Think?

Residential Teacher: School Problems

A Broken-Hearted Wife: a “Bacher’s” Wife


Brother Bachelor: A Voice from Vancouver

Hope: Women Need to Get Out

Francis Marion Beynon: Who’ll Help This Baby?

F. M.B. : Many Homes for Baby

A Homesteader’s Wife: Four Lean Years in Five

Aloha Twin: Valuable Fur

An English Soldier’s Wife


Farmer: A Pitiful Heart

Evangeline: When a Man Enlists

Determination: Can’t Alter Circumstances

Saskatchewan Rose: The Question of Population

A Loving Wife

No Occupation: Wake Up! Farm Women

The Mother of a Soldier: The Grandmother Speaks

A Soldier’s Mother: Advice for Expectant Mothers


New Country-Woman: Query?

Maternity: On Midwives

Saskatchewan Nancy: The Sensible Age


Prairie Maid: Brave Little Girl

Discouraged Woman: Another Tragedy

H. M. Mc. : Municipal Hospitals

Ileen: Labor Problem

Young Old Benedict: Champions Married Women


Rosie Cheeked English Girl: Takes Issue With Frenchy

A War Bride: Definition of a War Bride

Isabelle: Calls Attention to Laws


Peggie: To Can Beef and Pork for Summer

Conclusion: Was It Worth the Journey?

Appendix: Papers, Clubs, and Editors

Additional Readings



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.


``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, Winter 2000-2001

``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

``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