What was life like in British North America and what changed when Canada became a country? While the idea of being a livein servant might be unimaginable to many students today, so is the fact that Canada hasn’t always been a country. This title in the Dear Canada series will help students understand what it meant to be an immigrant in the late 1800s as well as give an inside look to the birth of a new country. Rosie, the protagonist, is the live-in servant for the Bradley family. When the capital is moved to Ottawa, the Bradley family moves too, taking Rosie along with them—far away from her family and everything she’s familiar with. From Rosie’s point of view, we only hear small snippets about the politics of the time, but it’s enough to start Rosie (and the reader) thinking about how things might change if a single country is formed from ocean to ocean. Rosie’s story of change and uncertainty parallels our own country’s journey toward Confederation. The images included at the end of the book are excellent historical extracts to support students’ understanding of Ottawa’s growth and change over the years.
Students studying Confederation could read this book in order to have a greater understanding of the changes in our country. Bradford’s descriptive writing supports student’s ability to visualize daily life in 1866. A keen teacher could turn this work into a whole-class novel study. Similarly, excerpts from The Confederation Diary will help students imagine daily life in Ottawa pre-sidewalks, pre-industry, and pre-unity. Teachers in Quebec and Ottawa can use this book to support students in Making Connections (between British North America and Canada today). Teachers across the country can focus on transforming as a reading strategy, encouraging students to develop an understanding of the factors that lead to Confederation.
[Review by Amanda Forbes.]