Friday, December 9, 2011


My research for the settings for Winter Shadows took me to rural Manitoba St. Andrew's, a parish on the Red River in Manitoba, which still has some of the old stone houses from around 1850.

The exterior of my house in the novel, Old Maples, is fashioned after that of Captain Kennedy's house along the Red River (now  a tea house and museum) and some of the interior comes from a typical small whitewashed Red River squared-logged house; the sort where the farmers and former servants of the Hudson's Bay Company lived; and also from the Governor's House at Lower Fort Garry, a few miles away - as Beatrice's father had once been a man of rank in the Hudson's Bay Company.

You will soon be able to see more photos of the area, houses and interiors under the Winter Shadows tab above, as I add them in the new year.

                                                  Governor's Kitchen - Lower Fort Garry

Above is hearth in the Governor's house at the fur trading post which gave me an idea of what the old hearth could look like in Old Maples - which Cass (in modern times) sees for the first time when the workmen renovating the old house tear off the wall that is hiding it. She finds an important link to the past inside the sooty hearth wall. There are a lot of hidden things in that old house! Even a ghost...

                                    Governor's Kitchen - Lower Fort Garry

This is the old kitchen at the fort, below, c 1850. Although it's not exactly the same as my other main character Beatrice's kitchen in 1856, it's pretty close. Her home kitchen at Old Maples is a bit larger, as it would be the centre of family life unlike the Governor's house. You can see the smoke hanging in the air. In Beatrice's kitchen there is also a large wooden table to work and to eat at and six wooden chairs - and her step-mother Ivy's locked store cupboard! A similar table is seen below.

 Cass and Beatrice share the same house over 150 years apart. Both are unhappy young women, each facing a tough new stepmother as well as other big changes in their lives. They often look out the windows of the old house to the river and trees beyond. Are they really seeing each other through time?

I'm not sure what this little sleigh, above is, except probably a "play" sleigh for a child or a form of highchair. But it has a very Christmas-y look to it!

There are more photos which I took when researching the area. I will be adding them in the new year under Winter Shadows' information.


Gail Goetz said...

I love all this, Margaret. We in the south have nothing like this. We have the old plantation houses but they're of course not as old as thing. Looking forward to seeing more.
Gail Goetz

Margaret said...

Thanks, Gail. This area along the Red River is so interesting to me because it had strong links with the fur trade of the 17th - 19th C; The Hudson's Bay Company; England and Scotland; and the the Anglican church Missions. The "country marriages" of many Scottish servants of the HBC with aboriginal peoples was not uncommon. I chose to have the main characters from the 1850's of mixed Scottish and Cree blood. At that time, much of the hierarchy of that small area were, indeed, of mixed blood - and often educated in Great Britain or in private schools. When more British-born immigrants came to live in the settlement, things rapidly changed. I find the whole area really fascinating. But then I find your old plantations facinating, too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, spectacular! Now I want to come visit and play historical tourist... my daughter and I are heading to Ontario for 200-year-anniversary of War of 1812 events this coming summer, but Red River and Louis Riel is another of my FAVOURITE historical moments...